Cardiovascular Expert Dr. Harry Silber Speaks to AP Chemistry Students

Harry Silber, M.D., PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine and a BT School parent, helped AP Chemistry students understand real-life applications of their current learning.
Harry Silber, M.D., PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine and a BT School parent, explained the critical role of nitric oxide, a free radical which is secreted by the inner lining of arteries, in maintaining cardiovascular health to AP Chemistry students recently. Dr. Silber reviewed some noninvasive methods for assessing nitric oxide activity in people’s arteries, such as such as phase contrast MRI, which were developed in his lab at JHU.

AP Chemistry teacher Dr. Lea Scheffer offers this technical explanation of Dr. Silber’s presentation:
 
AP Chemistry students applied their newly-learned concepts of chemical bonding and Lewis structures in connection to the important function of nitric oxide as a free radical, with an unpaired electron. They understood the complex relationship between chemical structure and possible function of a molecule in important signaling processes related to cardiac disease and vascular function.

Reminding the students of the importance of parabolas in physics, which they had learned last year, Dr. Silber described how the velocity profile of blood in a long, straight, narrow artery is also a parabola, and how he and his group at JHU used this model to calculate shear stress at the arterial wall. He explained that arterial wall shear stress is the most important physical stimulus for the release of nitric oxide by the inner layer of the artery wall (the endothelium). He described his research on using MRI to measure the shear stress stimulus for nitric oxide release as well as the dilation of arteries caused by nitric oxide. In his research work, Dr. Silber focuses on assessment of vascular function by MRI and also non-invasive assessment of cardiac filling pressure.

Our seniors were intrigued and pleased to see how chemistry, physics and biology come together to create vast interdisciplinary areas where, in their future careers, they will be able to apply all the scientific concepts they learned in high school.
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