In 2007, Hong Kong businessman William Fung and central Ohio community leader Abigail Wexner established a fund to foster international exchange in congenital heart disease. The recipients of the first Fung Wexner Award, Loren Wold, PhD, of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Zhe Zheng, MD, PhD, of the Cardiovascular Institute and Fu Wai Hospital in Beijing, China, and their co-investigators, were announced on June 18, 2008. The $40,000 award will support the establishment of a first-of-its-kind Tissue Bank for Congenital Heart Disease Samples – modeled after tissue banks in other specialties.
During cardiac surgery and certain interventional cardiac catheterizations, heart tissues are removed and historically have been discarded. The Tissue Bank for Congenital Heart Disease Samples will allow researchers to capture clinical data from those tissue samples for use in future studies.
“Having a collection of cardiothoracic samples in an organized tissue bank will facilitate research to gain knowledge of the complex biology of congenital heart disease and other cardiac diseases,” said John P. Cheatham, MD, George H. Dunlap Endowed Chair in Interventional Cardiology, Director of Cardiac Catheterization and Interventional Therapy and Co-Director of The Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
In collaboration with clinicians and researchers at Fu Wai Hospital, the long-term project goal is to establish an international consortium for the banking of pediatric cardiac specimens that will be used to better understand congenital heart disease and lead to new, more effective treatments for cardiac patients.
“The Tissue Bank for Congenital Heart Disease Samples is the first step in a larger, general initiative to develop a full-capture approach to our patients and medical care,” said Wold. “Our intention is to merge research and clinical efforts to improve patient care internationally in which patient-specific characteristics are used to tailor treatment.”
Funding will be coordinated through Nationwide Children’s and will support activities at both hospitals. Expansion of this ground breaking and evolving project will depend upon the ongoing results of tissue banking.
Project co-investigators include Alistair Phillips, MD, and John Bauer, PhD, both of Nationwide Children’s, and Shengshou Hu, MD, of Fu Wai Hospital.