Bolli, U of L to lead multi-center cardioprotective study

Group garners nearly $10 million NIH grant to evaluate new therapies
Bolli, U of L to lead multi-center cardioprotective study

Dr. Roberto Bolli of the University of Louisville Division of Cardiovascular Medicine will lead a multi-center research consortium to study cardioprotective therapies at a preclinical level.

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Once again, when the world needs the best in cardiovascular research, it turns its eyes to the University of Louisville.

A multi-institutional consortium, led by Roberto Bolli, M.D., chief of the University of Louisville Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and director of the Institute for Molecular Cardiology, recently earned a nearly $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health'sNational Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to evaluate cardioprotective therapies at a preclinical level.

The $9.56 million, five-year grant, titled "Preclinical Consortium to Facilitate Translation of Cardioprotective Therapies (CAESAR)," will include four independent laboratories and cores at the University of Louisville, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University and Virginia Commonwealth University; the U of L team will lead this multi-center program.

Together, these institutions will work to test potential cardioprotective therapies in a blinded, randomized manner using rigorous statistical methods and analyses.

"CAESAR will be my most important contribution to the field of cardioprotection," Bolli said. "We hope that CAESAR will facilitate translation of basic research into therapies that will help victims of heart attacks."

According to Bolli, it will mark the first time the NIH has funded a network of laboratories to test cardioprotective therapies and to serve as a public resource.

"Approximately eight years ago, I began talking with NIH representatives about the need to change how we are conducting cardioprotective preclinical studies," Bolli said. "Those conversations have led to this grant."

The network's research will be available to all investigators in both the academic and biomedical research fields; NIH-funded investigators will have access to the network's facilities and expertise at no cost.

"The development of a network of leading laboratories, funded by the NIH and available to the entire community of investigators, represents a veritable paradigm shift that will radically transform the way we approach cardioprotection," Bolli said.

A key advantage in how these studies will be conducted is the addition of a statistician in developing the research study design. Another is ensuring reproducibility; each study will be performed in two centers using identical protocols, with each center unaware of the other’s results.

In addition, expanding the multi-faceted approach to this level of research will bring these new therapies to patients much sooner.

"Multi-center research programs accelerate the translation of research to the clinic," Jesse Roman, M.D., Chairman of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine said. "CAESAR is such an effort. By joining strong cardiovascular research programs at Emory, Johns Hopkins, and VCU, the U of L team, lead by Dr. Roberto Bolli, brings attention to the important topic of cardioprotection.

"This approach represents what should be the natural evolution of sophisticated scientific programs that seek to advance discovery. I am extremely proud of the stellar contributions this team has made to our understanding of cardiovascular disease."

Joining Bolli in the research at U of L are Xian-Liang Tang, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Yiru Guo, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Qianhong Li, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Steven Jones, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, all with the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Medicine; and Dr. Maiying Kong, Ph.D., associate professor of bioinformatics and biostatistics in the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

Leading the efforts at the other university centers are Dr. Charles Steenbergen at Johns Hopkins; Dr. David Lefer and Dr. Jacob Vinten-Johansen at Emory; and Dr. Rakesh Kukreja at Virginia Commonwealth.