Cristhiaan Ochoa, MD
term ending - June 30, 2007
Dr. Ochoa attended medical school in his native country at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellin, Colombia. It was in medical school as a TA for a pulmonary physiology class that he first became interested in pulmonary hypertension. When it came time to decide what to do for research in his last year in school, he decided to work with Dr. Charles Hales and Dr. Deborah Quinn at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in their pulmonary and critical care lab. “I got hooked,” he says of his first hands-on experience with pulmonary hypertension research. With PHA’s grant money Dr. Ochoa is exploring the properties of a protein called thrombospondin-1. Previous researchers had hypothesized that thrombospondin-1 acted as a protective agent in the lungs, and Dr. Ochoa is determined to prove this hypothesis. Dr. Ochoa tests his theories in mice by inducing hypoxia (decreased levels of oxygen in the blood).. His project involves comparing mice without the thrombospondin-1 gene to normal mice after inducing hypoxia in both groups.
Dr. Ochoa plans to use this information to ultimately find a cure. His project represents a new angle to go about treatment for PH. While most of the current treatments are vasodilators, Dr. Ochoa’s treatment would actually reduce the thickness of pulmonary vessels. Dr. Ochoa is a physician but his ultimate goal is to dedicate himself to research. He plans to go back to school to earn a PhD in lung biology and continue with pulmonary research.