News Room Articles

NIH Award Brings Together Pediatric, Adult Heart Disease Research, Training


Columbus, OH - 10/16/2009

The National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, recently awarded researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) a five-year, $1.4 million grant to provide in-depth training to clinicians and basic scientists in congenital and acquired heart disease.

This training program is the first in the country that focuses on cardiovascular disease as a continuum from fetal life to senescence, allowing Nationwide Children’s and Ohio State to be well-positioned to have a measurable impact on cardiovascular disease, and to foster new collaborative opportunities between the institutions.

Pamela A. Lucchesi, PhD, director of the Center for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Terry S. Elton, PhD, interim director of the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute at OSUMC, are co-principal investigators for the grant.

“Cardiovascular disease does not begin in adulthood. One of our research priorities is to discover more about how and why adult cardiac disease starts in childhood,” explained Dr. Lucchesi. “Learning about adult heart disease predictors in the pediatric population will lead us to more options for early intervention with pediatric patients and prevention of adult heart disease later in life.”

“This grant represents an exciting opportunity to provide training for the next generation of translational scientists,” said Dr. Elton. “Translational medicine, the newer approach to improve human health, incorporates scientific discoveries that must be translated into practical applications. Such discoveries usually originate at ‘the bench’ from basic research, in which scientists investigate disease at the molecular or cellular level, then progress to the clinical level, or the patient's ‘bedside.’ Scientists realize that this bench-to-bedside approach to translational research is necessary to advance patient care. Basic scientists provide clinicians with innovative ideas for use in patients, and clinical researchers make novel observations about the nature and progression of disease at the molecular or cellular level that often stimulate basic investigations.”

While the award expands the opportunities for training, it also fosters collaboration among the area’s pediatric and adult care clinicians.

“This grant further enhances the excellent cardiology fellowship programs at both institutions and encompasses our overall mission of being able to train the next generation of physicians who can advance the field for patients with heart disease of all ages. Our programs – pediatric, adult, and combined adult congenital heart disease – benefit greatly from this grant as we train future academic leaders while providing state-of-the-art care,” explained Timothy Hoffman, MD, Cardiology Fellowship director at Nationwide Children’s.

Alex Auseon, DO, associate director of the Cardiovascular Training Program at OSUMC, added, “As two nationally recognized training centers in cardiology located within minutes of each other, Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s have a long history of cooperation in clinical training of residents and fellows, but we've only just begun to realize the potential of collaboration in the research arena. This grant will allow for a formal, structured relationship that will foster research innovation and productivity, benefiting patients of all ages with cardiovascular disease.”

Adults with congenital heart disease comprise one of the fastest growing populations within cardiology – 90 percent of all infants born with a congenital heart defect are expected to survive into adulthood.

“As the needs of these pediatric and adult cardiac populations increase, a partnership between pediatric and adult hospitals and research institutes will provide a more comprehensive approach toward treating and preventing this prevalent health problem,” said Dr. Lucchesi.

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