Colin Sumners, Ph.D.

Professor of Physiology and Functional Genomics

College of Medicine

2002 Awardee

Colin Sumners works to understand the cellular and molecular effects of a small protein in the brain, but his very focused research may have large implications for understanding conditions such as hypertension and strokes.

Specifically, he has concentrated on the small protein angiotensin II, which has diverse actions within the brain.

On the one hand, angiotensin II is a major player in the normal control of blood pressure. It attaches to receptor proteins on the surface of nerve cells in the brain and triggers changes in their activity, causing increased blood pressure. This effect of angiotensin II in the brain is greatly increased in, and is a major contributor to, hypertension or persistent high blood pressure.

On the other hand, angiotensin II acts on a different set of receptor proteins to contribute to brain cell death that occurs following a stroke.

Sumners’ research is focused on understanding the so called “signal transduction mechanisms” inside of brain cells that respond to angiotensin II. He seeks to understand the ways in which angiotensin II controls the activity of brain cells under normal conditions, and how these signaling mechanisms go wrong in disease states.

Sumners and his colleagues have performed groundbreaking work in defining many of the signal transduction molecules that are responsible for short-and long-term effects of angiotensin II on brain cells, and have identified problems with these mechanisms that likely contribute to hypertension and cell death.

Sumners’ work has been continuously supported through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association since 1984. In 1992, he won the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award — a seven-year research grant — from the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and in 1997 he received the Teacher/Scholar Award from the University of Florida.