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February 2, 2011

UVa Physicians Lead Research On the Next Generation of Heart Surgeries

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The University of Virginia Health System is one of seven medical centers in the United States and Canada that have been chosen to establish a Network for Cardiothoracic Surgical Investigations in Cardiovascular Medicine.

Under the auspices of a $1.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (both part of the National Institutes of Health) UVa will lead a consortium which includes Inova Fairfax Hospital and Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital to evaluate newer surgical techniques, technologies, devices, and innovative pharmaceutical and bioengineered products to ensure that the public has access to the best procedures determined by careful assessment.

“We are hoping to change the way certain aspects of heart surgery are performed based on the best clinical practices,” says Dr. Irving L. Kron, co-leader of the initiative and a cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Virginia.

This will be accomplished through an infrastructure for multi-center collaborative clinical research to evaluate surgical and interventional therapies directed at cardiovascular disease.  The participation of surgeons and their colleagues in allied specialties in a coordinated national cardiothoracic surgical network will advance the use of evidence-based medicine and inform the use of new interventions in surgical practices.  Results of network studies are expected to be widely disseminated, to improve the scientific basis of care for affected individuals and to serve to inform future larger clinical trials. The Network will also serve as a clinical trials training ground for fellows and junior faculty.

“By combining the cardiothoracic surgery and neurological outcomes expertise we have at UVa, this research will allow us to strengthen our knowledge from which both the surgery and neurology scientific and patient communities will benefit,” says Karen C. Johnston, M.D., M.Sc., professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the UVa School of Medicine and co-leader of the initiative.

Additionally, Dr. John Dent, a nationally known UVa. cardiologist and Dr. Michael Dake, an internationally known radiologist, will lend their expertise in echocardiography and interventional radiology. Kron believes the unique mix of specialties coupled with the large urban and rural population base will ensure UVa makes substantive and novel contributions to the network.

“This exciting new collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, as well the seven network institutions, will help advance innovative surgical therapies from the laboratory to clinical care,” said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. “By enhancing the ability of research teams to evaluate new techniques, technologies, and devices, the network promises to improve the scientific basis of care in cardiovascular disease,” she added.

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