A “joined-up” approach underpins a new research centre set up at the UK’s University of Leeds to advance the understanding, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

The Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre will provide a formal conduit for scientists from the university’s Faculty of Medicine and Health and its Faculty of Biological Sciences to pool their knowledge and research towards the development of new approaches to cardiovascular disease, and to implement these approaches into clinical practice.

The Centre will draw together a range of expertise, from molecular, genetic and protein insights to the health of the whole cardiovascular system and its relationship with associated conditions such as diabetes and obesity. It will develop strong links with National Health Service Trusts and encourage researchers from other faculties with applicable expertise, such as mechanical and tissue engineering, nanotechnology and mathematical modelling, to join the initiative.

Head of the Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre is David Beech, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Leeds University’s Faculty of Biological Sciences. Mark Kearney, a cardiologist and scientist who was recently recruited to the Faculty of Medicine and Health from King’s College London, has been appointed deputy head of the centre.

“Drawing together all the related expertise from across the University offers a wonderful opportunity, and the drive to form the Centre has been strongly supported by the researchers and clinicians themselves,” Professor Beech said. “There’s a great deal of internationally renowned research here but it has not previously been co-ordinated in such a formally constituted centre.”

Providing a focus
“This joined-up approach will provide a real focus for all our work,” he added. “It will allow us to collaborate and communicate much more easily, which will generate more research findings and ultimately lead to real benefits for patients. It will also inform and enhance undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, and thus help educate the next generation of cardiovascular researchers and clinicians.”

Professor Chris Wild, director of the Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics (LIGHT) – which is part of the Faculty of Medicine and Health – noted that cardiovascular research at the university “has always been highly regarded”, with the LIGHT alone received new awards worth more than £2 million (€2.69 million) in 2007 from the British Heart Foundation.

The added benefit of a co-ordinated cross-faculty approach was that “it will enable us to bid for larger research grants to tackle major questions crucial to understanding cardiovascular health and disease”, Professor Wild commented.