Vascular disease research gets $15M kickstart from AHA

Four medical centers have been awarded a cumulative $15 million by the American Heart Association (AHA) as part of an effort to expand current research on vascular disease, the AHA announced in a statement Jan. 12.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Northwestern University, University of Kentucky, Baylor College of Medicine and Vanderbilt University were chosen by the AHA to participate in the organization’s eighth “Strategically Focused Research Network.” The seven networks that currently exist are comprised of between three and five centers each and deal with focused issues like obesity, hypertension, women’s heart health and prevention.

Each of the entities will receive $3.7 million over the next four years to look into specific vascular issues like peripheral artery disease (PAD) and aortic diseases, according to the statement.

“This work is vitally important, because vascular disease is expected to increase as the population ages and as diabetes and obesity become more prevalent,” past AHA president Steven Houser, PhD, FAHA, said. “The lives of millions of men and women from all walks of life can benefit. Funding new breakthroughs through this targeted research program can provide more answers, ultimately helping prevent vascular disease or identify it earlier and determine more therapies and best practices to help patients live longer, stronger lives.”

Brigham and Women’s in Boston, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, will be focusing on the causes of, risk factors for and best treatment of critical limb ischemia, while Northwestern in Chicago will be looking into how blockages in leg arteries damage muscles and how that affects movement. The University of Kentucky in Lexington and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston will be zoning in on aortic diseases in the chest and abdominal area. Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, will take on PAD.

AHA’s research networks were launched in 2014 and have been expanding rapidly since. The organization is expected to announce its ninth network, one focusing on atrial fibrillation, this summer. Applications are being accepted through the end of January.