||Present at the recent ribbon-cutting were (front row, from l) Susan Lee, Maryland State Delegate; Kristen Cox, Maryland Secretary of Disabilities, representing Gov. Bob Ehrlich; Joan Kleinman, district director for Rep. Chris Van Hollen; Brian Gragnolati, Suburban Hospital president and CEO; Dr. Keith Horvath, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Suburban and director of NHLBI’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Program; Dr. Edward Miller, dean of Johns Hopkins Medicine; Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, NHLBI director; Howard Dennis, Montgomery County councilman; and Dr. Eugene Passamani, senior vice president of medical affairs, Suburban Hospital.
A new phase of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s research partnership with Suburban Hospital began Sept. 29 with the official opening of the NIH Heart Center at Suburban Hospital.
For several years, NHLBI intramural scientists led by Dr. Andrew Arai and Dr. Robert Balaban
have been engaged in a research program with Suburban on the use of MRI to diagnose heart attack and coronary artery disease in the emergency room. The NIH Heart Center will combine a broader research program involving NHLBI’s newly reestablished intramural heart surgery program with Suburban’s full-service cardiac surgery/cardiology program and with Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“The NIH Heart Center’s integration of scientific
research with superior heart care not only will help Suburban Hospital’s patients but also will ultimately benefit heart patients across the country,” said NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate
NHLBI had closed its intramural heart surgery program in 1990 due to small patient volume, cost issues and a shift in scientific priorities. According to Nabel, exciting new research opportunities
in MRI imaging, stem cell research and minimally invasive heart surgery prompted the institute to consider reopening the program at the same time that Suburban was pursuing a new cardiac
“Combining the research strengths of NHLBI with Suburban Hospital’s excellent patient care and clinical focus made a lot of sense,” she said.
Research studies already under way or planned include a study on neurocognitive changes after heart surgery (in collaboration with NINDS), MRI evaluation of patients with the aortic valve disease
called aortic stenosis to assess the need for valve replacement and comparison of two different
non-surgical procedures to correct arrhythmia in patients with atrial fibrillation. The Heart Center’s
future research agenda also includes studies
of stem cell transplantation and MRI-guided robotic heart surgery.
In addition to conducting research and providing angioplasty and cardiac surgery, the Heart Center will also serve as a training facility with post-residency
fellowships at Johns Hopkins. The Heart Center research program is led by Dr. Keith Horvath,
chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Suburban and director of NHLBI’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Program, and Dr. Kenneth Kent, chief of cardiology at Suburban and former NHLBI intramural