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New NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit opens at Royal Brompton Hospital



Monday, 15 November 2010


New NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit opens at

Royal Brompton Hospital


Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, director general of research and development at the Department of Health, visited Royal Brompton Hospital today to officially open the new National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, a joint initiative with academic partner Imperial College London.


As part of the NIHR, the cardiovascular BRU puts the Trust and Imperial at the forefront of international research into the most challenging heart conditions.


Research at the cardiovascular BRU will concentrate on increasing the understanding of poor heart function in people living with cardiomyopathy (inherited heart muscle disease), arrhythmia (irregular heart-beat), coronary heart disease and heart failure. This will be achieved by:  


  • Faster identification of genes linked to heart disease with a view to providing more personalised treatment for patients in the future.


  • Improving imaging techniques to diagnose patients more accurately and monitor any changes occurring in the heart.


  • Conducting clinical trials to investigate new treatments or advancements to improve current medical care.


  • Developing new techniques such as gene therapy and stem cell therapy.


Professor Dudley Pennell, director of the cardiovascular BRU, who is professor of cardiology at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London and consultant at Royal Brompton Hospital, said “It has been a privilege leading the development of the cardiovascular BRU at the Trust. Through the NIHR, we have created state-of-the-art facilities to advance our research into many life-threatening and debilitating conditions. We hope to use this work to provide better treatment options and create a better understanding of heart disease - offering patients a much better quality of life.”


Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, director general of research and development at the Department of Health, said: “I am delighted to be opening this NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in cardiovascular disease led by an excellent team committed to paving the way for further research within the NHS into poor heart function. I welcome the pioneering research that uses a combination of genetics and advanced imaging techniques to improve cardiovascular patient care.”


Professor Stephen Smith, principal of the faculty of medicine at Imperial College London, said: “Imperial has world class expertise in cardiovascular research and we have many scientists working with clinicians at the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and elsewhere to develop new ways of diagnosing, preventing and treating heart problems. The establishment of the new cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit will allow us to expand our pioneering heart research and deliver even more innovations that will benefit patients.”




For further information, please contact:


Shima Islam, Head of media relations

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust

Tel: 020 7351 8672 (Brompton)

Tel: 01895 828 877 (Harefield)

Mobile: 07866 536 345

Email: S.Islam@rbht.nhs.uk


Notes to editors:


Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust is a national and international specialist heart and lung centre based in Chelsea, London and Harefield, Middlesex. The Trust helps patients from all age groups who have heart and lung problems and is the country's largest centre for the treatment of adult congenital heart disease. www.rbht.nhs.uk


In April 2008, the NIHR awarded a four-year grant worth at least £10 million to a partnership of Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London to fund respiratory and cardiovascular BRUs at the Trust.  The Units will lead innovative research in respiratory and cardiovascular medicine, translating advances in medical research into benefits for patients and supporting the expansion of current research output in these priority areas of disease.


The Cardiovascular BRU, a Cardiac Regeneration Unit, will research into new treatments for the heart using genes, stem cells, tissue engineering and devices. A significant part of the research will be the establishment of cardiovascular genetics research working in close synergy with advanced cardiac imaging and cardiac Positron Emission Tomography (PET). This will develop a pipeline of discovery of new mechanisms of heart disease and new treatments. The imaging technologies will also be used to develop new techniques of delivering novel treatments (such as stem cells).


Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.


Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.


In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible. www.imperial.ac.uk 


The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility.  The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training.  Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. www.nihr.ac.uk

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