Centers of Excellence

Heart & Vascular Center

Heart and Vascular Research

The Brigham and Women's Hospital Heart & Vascular Center is world renowned for its clinical care and research. This includes a rich history of medical firsts: the first mitral valve surgery, the first direct current cardioversion for atrial fibrillation, the first cardiac care unit, the first use of anti-arrhythmic medication following myocardial infarction, and the first heart transplant in New England.

Clinical trials at Brigham and Women's Hospital have demonstrated that: thrombolytic therapy (clot-busting drugs) could significantly improve a patient's chance of survival following a heart attack; aspirin could prevent a first heart attack, ACE inhibitors could save lives and protect against left ventricular enlargement following a heart attack, and cholesterol-lowering medication could save lives in patients following a first heart attack.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have identified the genes responsible for a variety of cardiac diseases, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Holt-Oram syndrome, and have made significant progress toward the understanding of coronary and vascular disease, endothelial function, cardiac mechanics, and heart failure.

That commitment to improving heart and vascular care continues. In 2014 alone, our cardiovascular researchers were responsible for 281 active clinical trials, with over 100,000 study participants worldwide. Below are examples of recent and current heart and vascular research initiatives at BWH.

In October 2016, Calum MacRae, MD, PhD, Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at BWH, and an international team of collaborators were selected to receive the One Brave Idea Research Award, a five year, $75 million award from the American Heart Association (AHA), Verily Life Sciences and AstraZeneca. The team is researching genetic and molecular markers of heart disease. Read BWH Press Release announcing One Brave Idea award.

  • New techniques to repair heart valves, including heterograft (animal tissue) valve replacement.
  • Improving cardiac revascularization and performance.
  • Providing mechanical circulatory assistance and support to patients awaiting heart transplantation.
  • Studying the molecular genetics behind angiogenesis, the formation and development of blood vessels.
  • Investigating the growth of new blood vessels that occurs with transmyocardial revascularization, a procedure to improve blood flow by opening channels in the heart wall.
  • Researching the biologic dynamics of cardiac infarction and congestive heart failure.
  • Studying ischemic and reperfusion injury, the cellular damage that occurs when blood flows back into tissues that were temporarily deprived of circulation during surgery.
  • Investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in xenotransplantation (cross-species) of the heart.
  • Studying the immunogenetics of valve transplant.
  • Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) Study Group, dedicated to advancing the understanding of cardiovascular disease and improving the care of patients.
  • Generating novel therapies for cardiac amyloidosis.
  • Breakthrough pharmacological therapy for heart failure treatment.
  • Testing novel disease-modifying therapies for inherited cardiomyopathies.

Visit our Clinical Trials page for a list of all heart and vascular-related clinical trials open to new participants at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and other Partners HealthCare institutions. Only patients who have provided consent participate in studies.

Resources

Read more about Cardiac Surgery, Cardiovascular Medicine, and Vascular and Endovascular Surgery research.

Learn how you can support our heart and vascular research.

Access the current and past issues of Heart and Vascular Center Update

Read our annual reports, At the Heart of the Future 2016, At the Heart of the Future 2015.

View the Heart & Vascular Center’s timeline of innovation and discovery.

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