Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, taking more than one million lives annually. We at the Medical College of Wisconsin have made research aimed at understanding and curing heart, lung and blood vessel diseases a top priority.
The Cardiovascular Center is a nationally recognized leader in the study of the basic mechanisms underlying diseases of the heart, lung and blood vessels. Its scope is comprehensive, including all aspects of cardiac, vascular and cardiopulmonary biology.
Total laboratory space exceeds 42,000 square feet, making it one of the largest cardiovascular centers in the United States and providing a think tank for investigators studying cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Allen W. Cowley, Jr. is the Director of the Cardiovascular Center and Chairman of the Physiology Department. Dr. Diane Munzenmaier is Assistant Director and assistant professor of Physiology/Genetics. The Center is comprised of more than 150 faculty scientists and physicians from virtually every department at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Cardiovascular Center researchers are responsible for nearly $60 million in research grants.
Here are highlights of the Center's research and program initiatives:
Recently, the Cardiovascular Center began collaborating with the BloodCenter of Wisconsin and the Free Radical Research Center.
This arrangement represents significant opportunities for expansion of joint research programs, joint recruitment of new faculty and the development of new scientific methodologies for the College's faculty.
"Vascular Signaling by Free Radicals" is one of the Center's program initiatives. Free radicals are highly reactive agents produced in normal biological processes through the body's use of oxygen. This vascular biology initiative is analyzing how free radicals induce cell death within vessels, and how they modify normal vascular function.David R. Harder, PhD is the principal investigator and Peter Newman, PhD, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, David Gutterman, MD, Northwestern Mutual Life Professor of Cardiology, and Balaraman Kalyanaraman, PhD, director and professor of biophysics, are project leaders.
A second program initiative involves a new direction for anesthesiology research. With the Medical College of Wisconsin's Department of Anesthesiology, the Center is using genetic analysis of anesthetic-induced cardiac conditions.
Another initiative focuses on the mechanisms controlling cerebral circulation and disease states such as stroke and neuronal damage found in Alzheimer's disease. This $9 million project with Johns Hopkins University is identifying genetic and molecular controls of cerebrovascular circulation. Richard Roman, PhD, professor of physiology, is a project leader, and David R. Harder, PhD, is principal investigator of the program.
Within the Blood Research Institute is another program initiative – the study of the genetics of hypertension and blood pressure regulation. Peter Newman, PhD, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, is the principal investigator of the program. In addition, Allen Cowley, PhD, chairman and professor of physiology, and Theodore Kotchen, MD, professor of medicine, are directing the research under a Specialized Center of Research Excellence (SCOR) grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Two clinical trials underway in the Cardiovascular Center involve the study of gliomas, tumors that originate in the brain or spinal cord. William Campbell, PhD, chairman and professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and David R. Harder, PhD, professor of physiology, have identified an endothelial-dependent hyperpolarizing factor that is present in human vessels, especially in the heart. Center investigators are testing specific drugs that may lead to therapies that will reduce or eliminate the tumors.