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Vol. LVII, No. 18
September 9, 2005

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NHLBI Partners with Suburban, Hopkins on New Cardiac Program

With an official nod from the Maryland Health Care Commission late last month, a new partnership between NHLBI, Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and Johns Hopkins Medicine promises to deepen the cardiothoracic surgery, clinical research and physician- training expertise of all three institutions. When the program opens its doors in early 2006, Suburban Hospital will offer open-heart surgery and angioplasty for the first time, and NHLBI will bolster its surgical research capabilities with a clinical practice at its doorstep.

The research component of the cardiothoracic surgery alliance began in 2004, but the recent regulatory approval made the clinical program a reality. Since 1999, NHLBI and Suburban have collaborated on a study to evaluate the effectiveness of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in diagnosing heart attack and coronary artery disease in emergency room patients. Currently, the two institutions are researching the role of adult stem cells and progenitor cells in improving blood flow to the heart muscle of patients who've had heart attacks.

The new NHLBI and Suburban Hospital partnership will bring more cardiothoracic surgical expertise to Bethesda. Shown are (from l) Dr. Keith Horvath of NHLBI and Suburban’s Dr. Eugene Passamani and Dr. Kenneth Kent.  
Dr. Keith Horvath, Dr. Robert Balaban and Dr. Elizabeth Nabel of NHLBI and Dr. Kenneth Kent, chief of cardiology at Suburban, will lead the program. Dr. William A. Baumgartner at Johns Hopkins University is providing start-up guidance.

"The program unites the hands-on community private practice with the most current diagnosis and treatment available at NIH," said Nabel, who is NHLBI director. "The partnership leverages the strengths of both Suburban and NHLBI and promises not only to expand our knowledge of heart disease, but also to improve the care of the area's patients."

Protocols developed as part of the new program will fall within one of three major categories: cellular processes, bioengineering and xenografts. Specifically, research will include the restoration and maintenance of blood flow to the heart, valvular surgery and porcine grafts for heart failure.

"The most rewarding facet of this program will be the ability to take the most innovative, state-of-the-art research from the bench to the bedside of patients and to directly impact care the next day," said Horvath. "And to do all of this literally by walking across the street."

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