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Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason and the Hope Heart Institute Join Forces to Create the Hope Heart Program at BRI
- Virginia Mason Premier Research Programs Expand – Hope Heart Continues Funding Research and Enhances Its Focus on Cardiovascular Education
SEATTLE, Wash. —Jan. 26, 2004—The Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) and The Hope Heart Institute (THHI) announce that THHI’s team of heart researchers will join BRI, adding a basic and translational cardiovascular research program to BRI’s world-class diabetes, immunology, and genetics research programs. The Hope Heart Program at BRI will build upon THHI’s international reputation as a leader in cardiovascular research, and the endeavor to advance treatment options for individuals with cardiovascular disease. The Hope Heart Institute will remain an independent non-profit organization, expanding its focus on education programs and maintaining a strong commitment to funding cardiovascular research at BRI and elsewhere.
BRI is renowned internationally for its research in autoimmunity — with a focus on diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, and THHI maintains an international reputation for the quality of its cardiac research. The addition of THHI scientists will establish a dedicated BRI research team to further explore the strong link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as related autoimmune diseases. The expansion of the BRI programs, with support from THHI, will accelerate research in cardiovascular disease, known as the number one killer of Americans today. Being part of the Virginia Mason system will provide THHI scientists the ability to bring cutting-edge cardiovascular solutions to patients through translational research or a ‘bench to bedside’ approach, and offer the opportunity to expand Virginia Mason’s existing cardiovascular clinical research program. “We will closely link innovations in the laboratory and applications in the clinic, ” said Jerry Nepom, MD, PhD, Director of the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.
“By bringing Hope Heart research laboratories into BRI, we will be able to expand opportunities in cardiovascular research through utilization of our core laboratories and synergies with our existing genetics, immunology, clinical research, and diabetes research programs. Advances in scientific knowledge and technology now bridge these disciplines,” said Dr. Nepom.
The Hope’s founder, Lester Sauvage, MD sees tremendous promise in joining forces, “The research of today will be better tomorrow as a result of this agreement. The combined resources of Hope Heart’s cardiovascular research program and BRI’s diabetes program will advance the prevention and treatment of heart disease worldwide.”
The integration of THHI’s program into BRI’s, will create a critical mass of research scientists and provide access and opportunities for exchange and collaboration among colleagues. The THHI research staff of scientists and technicians joining BRI have noted expertise in heart disease, including such specialties as vascular biology and angiogenesis and vascular and matrix biology.
Both organizations have a link to a solid foundation in cardiovascular care, including heart surgery. Virginia Mason is an established innovator in cardiovascular care—the first hospital in Seattle to adopt endoscopic vein-harvesting techniques during bypass surgery and to adopt the beating-heart technique during bypass surgery. Virginia Mason cardiovascular specialists also utilize such innovations as electrophysiology, anticoagulation management and cardiovascular risk reduction based on related research.
Dr. Lester R. Sauvage, founder of The Hope Heart Institute, pioneered the coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery used at Virginia Mason and around the world. The world renowned cardiac surgeon performed thousands of life saving surgeries during his more than 40 year medical career. He founded The Hope Heart Institute in 1959 to further breakthroughs in cardiovascular research.
The BRI Board of Directors and THHI Board approved this agreement on December 18. The transaction is anticipated to close following final paperwork, with the Hope Heart Program at the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason projected to begin March 1, 2004.
Several key benefits to cardiovascular research and our community:
- Synergies of technology. BRI and THHI researchers anticipate synergies of technology. BRI scientists have expertise in cytometric and genetic technologies, which will be introduced to cardiovascular research in the new program laboratories. Hope Heart scientists have expertise in tissue analysis technologies, which will be extended to autoimmune disease and cancer research through collaborations with BRI scientists.
- Synergies of clinical research. The Translational Research initiatives at BRI facilitate the rapid deployment of molecular and genetic technologies in novel clinical trials. This expertise will now be extended to cardiovascular clinical research. For example, techniques developed in THHI’s laboratory for improving new blood vessel growth in tissues will provide an opportunity to apply this innovative approach to patients with heart disease.
- Efficiencies. Collaboration will result in economies of scale. In today’s research environment cost efficiencies are paramount, and working as a team will allow as many funds as possible to go directly to research.
- Linked disease research. The same genes and molecules that trigger inflammation in one disease often are also involved in other diseases, although the precise order and magnitude of these genetic and molecular signals can change. BRI scientists are leaders in the discovery and science of these signals, and many of the principles and techniques now successfully used to study diseases such as arthritis and diabetes can be extended to the study of inflammatory cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.