Europe-wide network fighting heart disease

Academic expertise at the University of Birmingham's Medical School is contributing to a Europe-wide network fighting heart disease. The European Vascular Genomics Network (EVGN) is the first European Funded network of excellence in the field of cardiovascular disease. Professor Asif Ahmed heads the Birmingham team whose blood vessel research will now be communicated around Europe.

The University of Birmingham Medical School is one 25 basic and clinical institutions involved (encompassing 35 academic groups), and along with 2 biotechnology companies and 1 management company promotes multidisciplinary interaction.  Ten EU Member or Associated States are involved.

The network acts as an interface between scientists in order to promote and accelerate the transition of knowledge in vascular biology.  Its ultimate aim is to improve diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Europe, accounting for over 5 million deaths each year. Half of all deaths in Europe in 2002 were from cardiovascular diseases. Heart attacks and stroke, which predominantly result from atherosclerosis (fatty deposits) in arteries, account for 80% of deaths from cardiovascular diseases.

Professor Asif Ahmed is Professor in Vascular Biology at the University of Birmingham.  His work looks at how the body could grow new blood vessels with the ultimate aim of preventing heart disease in the first instance rather than relying on surgery.

He says of his involvement: "I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with colleagues around Europe in furthering cardiovascular research.  By sharing information and resources we will effectively not have to re-invent the wheel. This will speed up the progress of research so our work gets from laboratories to patients quicker, developing new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that will provide benefits for patients across Europe".

This Network is funded by the European Union within its 6th Framework Programme "Life Science, genomics and biotechnology for Health", aiming at integrating and strengthening the European research area. It has a budget of 59 317 827 euros including 9 million Euros granted by the European Union over a 5 year-period.

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