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overview Dr. Gohar Azhar is a Professor of Geriatrics at the Reynolds Institute on Aging, College of Medicine, at UAMS. She is also the Director of Clinical Research, Director of the Pat Walker Memory Clinic and Research Center and Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Aging Program. Dr. Azhar graduated from Dow Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan. She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh where she was recognized for her “Excellence in Ambulatory Care” and as an “Outstanding Resident ”. Subsequently, she trained as a geriatrician and physician-scientist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Division on Aging, at Harvard Medical School, in Boston. Prior to her appointment at UAMS, she was an Instructor at Harvard and worked in the laboratory of Dr. Jeanne Wei. She received pilot funding from the Nathan Shock Program to study the effects of oxidative damage on the heart and the brain and was the first to report on the age-associated changes in the heart and brain in response to hypoxia-reoxygenation in terms of altered bcl2/bax ratios. She also conducted some of the first experiments on cardiac ischemia-reperfusion in the aging mouse model and determined that the window of opportunity for intervention and salvaging of cardiac tissue was significantly shorter for the old heart versus the young adult heart. Her basic research focused on elucidating the role of serum response factor (SRF) in the aging heart. Dr. Azhar was responsible for the physiological and functional characterization of a number of transgenic mouse models of SRF under-expression and over-expression. She co-authored a salient paper describing the cardiac changes in these mice titled “Model of functional cardiac aging” in in which a modest increase in a single transcription factor, SRF, led to accelerated aging of the heart. In brief, this was a model with premature diastolic dysfunction, represented an “old heart in a young adult body.” Diastolic dysfunction is a condition that is very commonly observed in older adults and is now also termed “heart failure” with preserved ejection fraction or HFPEF. Dr. Azhar also practiced as a geriatrician at community care centers in inner city, Boston before moving to UAMS in 2002. Dr. Azhar also held the position of Director of the Research Career and Development Core of the Arkansas Older American Independence Center and has helped establish a program to train numerous students and junior faculty members in aging research. Her basic research interests continue include investigating transcriptional control of the aging heart and physiological evaluation of stress responses of the aging cardiovascular system. She has recently been awarded an NIH, R41 STTR grant titled, “Nutritional Therapy in Elderly with Heart Failure” which builds on her clinical interests in cardiovascular aging. The clinical research projects involve the study of heart failure in the elderly, memory disorders, frailty and functional outcomes in response to nutritional interventions or new drug therapies. She is interested in investigating memory disorders and dementias and discovering new genes and proteins that could help turn the older hearts and brains into younger hearts and brains. She enjoys being a geriatrician and integrating all aspects of science and technology to maintain functional independence of older individuals and their caregivers in her practice.

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