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Conquering Heart Disease

Raised toward our $3,500 Goal
87 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on May 17, at 11:59 PM EDT
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Conquering Heart Disease

The Heart Disease Problem

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), or heart disease, is the leading global cause of death, killing approximately 17.4 million individuals per year, which accounts for almost a third of all deaths worldwide (World Health Organization, 2017). CVD is caused by atherosclerosis and has evidently become a global epidemic. Unfortunately, atherosclerosis cannot be entirely prevented or cured over an individual’s lifetime. Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes are the only preventative measures recommended to reduce risks for heart disease and stroke due to atherosclerosis (National Institutes of Health, 2016).  Preventative measures aside, effective treatments for atherosclerosis have proven to be invasive and ineffective. Invasive, surgical procedures such as bypass surgery or stenting are commonly used in late-stage CVD, when atherosclerosis has progressed and diminished blood flow in the arteries. However, these surgical methods can have severe drawbacks and increased health risks for patients. Additionally, surgery does not guarantee complete prevention of CVD events from occurring once again


What is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis can be characterized as a progressive, long-term disease caused by the formation and buildup of plaque in the arteries. Though researchers are still unclear as to exactly when the onset of atherosclerosis begins, certain aspects such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking do increase risk for atherosclerosis. If no preventative measures are taken, over time, the plaque hardens and causes narrowing of the arteries, as seen in the picture. This results in irreversible damage to the arteries and the heart since it restricts blood flow to other organs in the body (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2016). In turn, this can lead to a series of other cardiovascular diseases and complications, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke.



Team COR's Solution

Due to the drawbacks in current treatments, our team hopes to develop a non-invasive and effective treatment method that prevents the progression of atherosclerosis. Our aim is to develop an miRNA cocktail that targets receptors on macrophages, which will reduce the uptake of oxLDL. miRNA treatment is a promising area of research thanks to miRNA’s ability to target specific receptors, which would result in a much more effective form of treatment without the side effects of invasive surgery.


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Who is Team COR?

Team COR is an undergraduate research team that is a part of the Gemstone Honors College.  Our team is composed of eleven sophomore undergraduates pursuing degrees in areas such as Neurobiology and Physiology, Public Health, and Bioengineering.  The Gemstone Honors program allows undergraduates to complete three years of research in a field of their choice in small teams with their peers.  Team COR's faculty mentor is Dr. Helim Aranda-Espinoza, the associate chair and director of graduate studies in the school of bioengineering. 



Reasons for Completing a Launch Campaign

Since our research project is a scientific, biology oriented one, the majority of our project will be done in the lab. In order to complete our various experiments to answer our research question, we will need to purchase various lab equipment and materials. The first phase of our research includes culturing cells and in order to do this we will need to purchase macrophage cell lines, microRNA mimics, ELISA kits, Western Blot kits, different media, micropipettes, etc. In order to complete our first phase and move onto the second, we will need to purchase this equipment first and complete our many different experiments. Our funds will go to the purchasing of these materials and equipment. 


​Connect with Team COR

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email us at

​You can also visit our team's website at

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Gifts in support of the University of Maryland are accepted and managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization authorized by the Board of Regents.  Contributions to the University of Maryland are tax deductible as allowed by law.  Please see your tax advisor for details.                                                                                                                                         

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Lab Equipment

This donation would allow micropipette tips, glassware, and other materials necessary for cell culturing to be purchased for lab use.


Culturing Materials

This donation would allow different media to be purchased that is needed to culture cells, along with human ELISA kits.



This donation would allow for cells like human macrophages and monocyte cell lines to be purchased for use in experiments.


Kits and Plates

This donation will allow for Lucifer's Assay kits to be purchased which are used during cell culturing, as well as plates containing multiple wells.


MicroRNA Mimics

This donation will allow for miRNA mimics to be purchased that will target a receptor on macrophage cells. These mimics will be used extensively in the lab to test our hypothesis.

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