2016 Wylie Scholar
Assistant Professor of Surgery Division of Vascular Surgery
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPMC)
Dr. Ryan McEnaney received the 2016 Wylie Scholar Award for his research on the development of medical therapies to unblock arteries for patients for whom surgical procedures are not an option.
Diseases involving arterial blockages are the leading causes of death and disability in North America and Europe. Current therapy requires invasive methods of stenting or bypassing the blockages. Yet for the patients who are unable to tolerate surgery, there have been limited options. What if there were a pharmacological alternative?
Arteries retain remarkable plasticity, even into advanced age. For example, a small blood vessel can naturally remodel itself into a larger collateral artery to compensate for a blocked artery, through a process called arteriogenesis. This provides a new pathway for circulation.
However, these collateral vessels do not naturally achieve the original capacity of the blocked large artery, even though they have the potential to come close. The vessels expand in reaction to fluid forces passing through them, and adjust to accept these forces with a modest increase in size.
Dr. McEnaney’s research seeks to understand the biochemical signaling mechanisms that allow collateral arteries to perceive these forces. Once these mechanisms are understood, it may be possible to develop medical therapies that encourage collateral arteries to grow much larger than they would have otherwise. This would enable better blood flow around the blocked large artery. This research may someday result in a non-surgical treatment to restore blood flow in patients with blocked arteries.
“I am honored to receive this award – a major milestone in my career as a surgeon and scientist,” said Dr. McEnaney. “I am also humbled to now be listed among the distinguished group of prior recipients. It’s a tremendous accomplishment to receive the award, as well as a great responsibility to carry on its tradition of excellence. I thank the review committee for granting me this opportunity.”
Dr. McEnaney received his medical degree from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and completed his residency at UPMC, where he served as administrative chief resident in vascular surgery. He is board certified in vascular surgery.
Dr. McEnaney’s surgical interests include peripheral vascular disease, aortic aneurysms, venous diseases, and vascular access. His scientific research focuses on the molecular biology and biochemistry of vascular adaptation to occlusive disease.