FORT COLLINS - A CSU scientist will use a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate triggers for hypertension in people with obesity.

Gregory Amberg, an associate professor in the CSU Department of Biomedical Sciences, hopes that his research will help define underlying causes of cardiovascular disease to provide better preventative therapies, according to a release from CSU.

"Hypertension is one of the major modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but it often goes undiagnosed until it is in the more advanced stages, when the damage is already done," Amberg said in a statement.

Identifying molecular switches can help prevent heart disease, which would help avoid organ damage that often accompanies established disease, Amberg said.

Amberg will focus specifically on the workings of calcium ion channels, which allow calcium to permeate the body's tissues, triggering muscle to constrict the arteries, which increases blood pressure.

Amberg's five-year research could shed light on how calcium channel signals influence blood vessel functions that regulate blood flow and pressure, which contribute to diseases such as hypertension, stroke and coronary artery disease, according to the release.