The Geisel School of Medicine and Dartmouth-Hitchcock are partnering with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) as one of four centers in a new American Heart Association-funded research network charged with unlocking some of the mysteries behind vascular disease.
The Dartmouth/BHW center will focus on Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) and seek new ways to help identify patients at risk and to improve patient outcomes for these conditions. The center will be funded through a four-year grant from the AHA, at $3.7 million annually.
Mark Creager, MD, the Anna Gundlach Huber Professor in Medicine at Geisel, director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Heart and Vascular Center and a past president of the American Heart Association, is the co-director of the Dartmouth/BWH center; research work at Dartmouth-Hitchcock will be lead by Philip Goodney, MD, associate professor of surgery and of health policy and clinical practice.
“This newly funded research network, targeting vascular diseases, was created to kick start new thinking on PAD and aortic disease,” said Steven Houser, PhD, FAHA, immediate past president of the American Heart Association and senior associate dean of research, chairperson of the department of physiology, and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Temple University in Philadelphia. Dr. Houser participated in the application review process.
The Association’s Vascular Disease Research Network will fund four centers. Each will receive $3.7 million over the next four years. The centers are:
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Geisel School of Medicine/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Boston Massachusetts and Lebanon, New Hampshire; “Understanding Pathobiology and Predictors of Limb Ischemia to Improve Outcomes in Peripheral Artery Disease and Diabetes”: This research will seek to learn what causes critical limb ischemia, severe obstruction of the arteries which markedly reduces blood flow to the extremities (hands, feet and legs) and has progressed to the point of severe pain and skin ulcers or sores. Researchers will also seek new ways to help identify people at risk by using practical risk tools that could be delivered on a website or phone; and personalize the application of intensive medical therapies to the highest risk patients to reduce the burden of critical limb ischemia and amputation in patients with diabetes.
- Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois; “Calf Skeletal Muscle Pathology and Disability in Peripheral Artery Disease”: Researchers will focus on how blockages in leg arteries damage muscle and how that affects walking, as well as determine if a therapy for leg muscle damage in PAD patients can also improve their ability to walk.
- University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas; “University of Kentucky-Baylor College of Medicine Aortopathy Research Center (UK-BCM ARC)”: These projects will focus on aortic diseases in the chest or abdominal area that involve the expansion and tearing of the vessel wall (aneurysms and dissections) and can cause internal bleeding and a high death rate. Men have greater incidence than women, but women have higher risks for bleeding and worse outcomes from surgery. The major aim of this study is to understand what causes these sex differences.
- Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; “Microcirculatory Disease Determines Limb Outcomes in PAD”: Researchers will study people with PAD using different methods to understand why the leg's muscle and blood vessels don't work and result in a reduced ability to walk and look to better understand how a person’s medical history and inherited factors may predict PAD and its poor outcomes.
Vascular diseases, including atherosclerotic peripheral vascular and aortic diseases are prevalent in the U.S. and other nations. More than 202 million people worldwide, including more than eight million in the U.S. age 40 and older, suffer from PAD, which impacts peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head - most commonly the legs. The reduced blood flow associated with PAD can damage cells and tissue in the limbs, organs and even in the brain. PAD can lead to walking difficulty and increased leg pain with walking, called claudication. People with PAD are at risk of complications including infections and amputation. Additionally, individuals with PAD have significantly higher rates of major adverse cardiovascular events including heart attack, stroke and death.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.