Guest Editorial - Douglas E. Vaughan, M.D.

Poised for the future

Editor’s Note:  This guest editorial was written in 2007 by Douglas Vaughan, M.D., who in 2008 became chair of the Department of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Douglas E. Vaughan, M.D.
Director, Vanderbilt Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
C. Sidney Burwell Professor of Medicine
Professor of Pharmacology
Published: October, 2007

Photo by Dean Dixon
More rapidly, perhaps, than has any other field of medicine, the treatment of heart disease has been transformed by extraordinary advances in basic and clinical science.

One of the best examples of the impact of research is in the management and treatment of patients with acute MI (myocardial infarction, or heart attack).

The evidence for many of the standard treatments that we routinely apply today, including beta-blockers, acute reperfusion therapy, statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can be attributed to the investigative efforts and leadership of Eugene Braunwald, M.D., who is profiled in this issue of Lens.

This issue also will examine two other areas of active research that have been conceptually informed and motivated by Braunwald’s ground-breaking work—mechanisms of coronary thrombosis (clotting in the coronary arteries), and new treatments to improve cardiac function after a heart attack.

These advances are examined from the perspective of researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a microcosm of the breadth and depth of research and cross-disciplinary collaborations that are revolutionizing heart disease treatment and prevention around the world.

Investigators at Vanderbilt, for example, have pioneered numerous advances in cardiovascular research, including fundamental insights into the metabolism of prostaglandins and other eicosanoids, the molecular biology of blood pressure regulation, and the molecular mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias.

Many of these studies have been conducted in the Clinical Research Center, one of the first of its kind in the country and also one of the most productive in terms of the volume of CRC-related research papers that are published each year.

Another example is the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, which in 2005 joined cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular surgery under one roof.

The institute provides a new opportunity to improve the ways we interact, and to increase the efficiency and quality of what we do. It achieves a real partnership between the providers, whether they are physicians, nurse practitioners or nurses, and the hospital that was not possible before.

In 2006, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) designated Vanderbilt, along with the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Pennsylvania, as a Specialized Center of Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR) in Hemostatic and Thrombotic Diseases.

The Vanderbilt SCCOR grant will allow investigators from throughout the medical center to investigate why patients with obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are at greater risk for arterial thrombosis and premature coronary disease.

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