Meet Research Grant Recipient: Joelle Hartke, MD

Dr. Joelle Hartke is the recipient of the Froggy’s Drive and Strode Family Chair of Research for $45,000.

BAF: Please tell us your background, where you are from, schooling, etc.

JH: I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY alongside my four siblings, who I am very close with. I graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, where I played on the varsity lacrosse team and served as team captain my senior year. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to return to my hometown to pursue my medical studies at the Jacobs School of Medicine in Buffalo. As a newly minted PGY-5 resident at Barrow Neurological Institute, I have three years remaining in my neurosurgical residency training after which I will stay at BNI to complete an endovascular fellowship.

BAF: What led you to become involved with brain aneurysm research?

JH: My passion and commitment to enhancing outcomes for patients grappling with cerebrovascular diseases began after a personal tragedy—the loss of my grandmother to a devastating ruptured cerebral aneurysm. During medical school in Buffalo and throughout my residency at Barrow, I have been surrounded by incredible mentors in the cerebrovascular department, which has further strengthened my decision to pursue clinical practice and research endeavors within this field. My clinical mentor, Dr. Lawton, and research mentor, Dr. Hashimoto, have been invaluable in helping me to achieve these goals.

BAF: In the simplest terms, what is the purpose of your project?

JH: The purpose of our project is to investigate the potential relationship between Gas6 and aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. The proposed experiments are designed to establish the protective role of Gas6 against the development of aneurysmal rupture. We aim to determine whether the administration of Gas6 decreases the intracranial aneurysm rupture rate, whether inhibiting Gas6 increases the intracranial aneurysm rupture rate and whether the protective effect of Gas6 against the development of aneurysm rupture is dependent on MerTK.

BAF: In the simplest terms, what do you hope will change through your research findings?

JH: With the aim of establishing the protective role of Gas6 against intracranial aneurysm rupture, we hope that this research can lead to the discovery of precision therapies that can improve clinical outcomes for patients with intracranial aneurysms. This pre-clinical study will lay the basis for future clinical trials utilizing Gas6 for pharmacological prevention of intracranial aneurysm rupture. Ultimately, if the outcomes from future clinical trials determine that the administration of Gas6 is successful in protecting against aneurysm rupture, our goal would be for all patients diagnosed with intracranial aneurysms to receive this precision therapy resulting in a decrease in the overall rupture rate of cerebral aneurysms.

BAF: Why is the funding you are receiving through the Brain Aneurysm Foundation so important?

JH: We are sincerely grateful for the opportunity presented by this BAF grant to advance our project, which has shown great promise through our preliminary studies. It is essential to acknowledge that the completion of this project necessitates substantial investment in materials and resources. Thanks to the funding provided by this BAF grant, we can now proceed with securing a dedicated research technician to support us in the lab.  Moreover, this funding enables us to acquire and maintain the required mice, as well as procure all the necessary supplies essential for the successful execution of our research. Our unwavering focus remains on improving outcomes for individuals who suffer from aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage due to ruptured cerebral aneurysms.

Pictured above is Dr. Hartke’s research poster, “The Effect of Growth-Arrest Specific 6 on Intracranial Aneurysm Formation and Rupture”