By TERRA OSTERLING
Published March 14, 2023
Third-year epidemiology PhD student Ahmed Soliman has been awarded an American Heart Association (AHA) Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. The prestigious award is designed to advance the research and clinical training of pre-doctoral or clinical health professional students who plan to conduct research or work in careers aimed at improving cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and brain health.
Soliman’s research examines the impact of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) on the cardiovascular health of postmenopausal women. He will receive an annual stipend and other project support totaling $32,553. PPIs are medications routinely prescribed to treat heartburn, acid reflux and stomach ulcers, with widespread use among older adults. Prescription-strength and over-the-counter PPIs are sold under the trade names Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Zegerid.
Soliman seeks to examine the relation between PPIs and heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure and the presence of blood-clotting markers. His proposed research supports the AHA’s mission to reduce the burden of heart disease by advancing research in an aging society.
While PPIs are safe when used for the short term — weeks to months — little is known about their long-term impact on cardiovascular disease (CVD). Accumulating evidence points to a potential increased risk of CVD with long-term use of PPIs, particularly in older women.
“PPIs are widely prescribed in older women, and the cardiovascular disease risk associated with use in this population is understudied,” Soliman says, adding that his proposal addresses gaps in understanding of how PPIs may affect CVD in postmenopausal women, who are at higher risk of CVD compared to younger women.
Soliman plans to use data from the Women’s Health Initiative, the large, ongoing epidemiological study on postmenopausal women in the U.S. — WHI’s Northeast Regional Center is housed at UB — to examine the association between PPIs and cardiovascular disease. He also plans to use data from collected serum samples from the Buffalo OsteoPerio study, an ancillary study of the WHI.
Soliman, who was born and raised in Egypt, has a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, both from Alexandria University in Egypt. He has nine years of experience, including as a clinical pharmacist working in hospitals. His previous research focused on using epidemiological methods to study drug safety profiles; his current interest is cardiovascular epidemiology.
“Working as a clinical pharmacist in Egypt for several years,” Soliman says, “I came to appreciate the importance of disease prevention and the value of epidemiological research in determining risk factors of diseases, especially cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide.”