The Fondation Leducq in Paris, France, dedicated to improving human health through international efforts to combat cardiovascular disease, awarded a $6 million grant award to a new global research network of cardiovascular scientists which includes three researchers from the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
This new large grant was awarded as part of the Fondation Leducq's Transatlantic Networks of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Program. Network researchers will aim to identify cellular and molecular targets to help advance cardiac regeneration therapeutics. Their research proposal was one of only four research projects selected this year for funding by the foundation from among one hundred applications. Research is planned to launch in January 2014.
The new global network brings together physician-scientists with leading expertise in developmental biology, cardiac stem cell biology, biomarkers, gene therapy, metabolism, immunology, pharmacogenomics, and clinical cardiology.
The new research network includes Mount Sinai's Roger Hajjar, MD, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Mount Sinai, Jean-Sebastien Hulot, MD, PhD, Director of Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Therapeutics at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Mount Sinai, and Jason Kovacic, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in Cardiology at Mount Sinai. Other network members include: Toren Finkel, MD, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health, the North American Coordinator; David Sassoon, PhD, of the Universite de Pierre et Marie Curie-Sorbonne Universites in Paris, France, the European Coordinator; Thomas Braun, MD, PhD, of Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim, Germany; Richard Harvey, PhD, of Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia; Nadia Rosenthal, PhD, of the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College in London, UK; and Mark Sussman, PhD, of San Diego State University, SDSU Heart Institute, in San Diego, CA.
"Working together, our research network has the extraordinary opportunity to investigate novel methods for cardiac regeneration to repair injured hearts," says Dr. Hajjar, who also serves as the Arthur & Janet C. Ross Professor of Medicine and Professor of Gene & Cell at Mount Sinai. "Our ultimate mission is to advance this emerging translational medicine field with discovery and the rapid translation of novel cardiac regenerative therapies from the laboratory bench to the patient's clinic for testing in innovative clinical trials."
Currently, there is no scientific consensus on what process governs or restricts cardiac regeneration. The research network hopes to gain a greater comprehensive understanding of the roles played by cardiac stem cells, heart muscle cells known as cardiomyocytes, and other cardiac cell types that regulate cardiac regeneration to assess their potential capabilities to assist in the revival and regeneration of a damaged heart and its tissues for patients diagnosed with impaired cardiac function or structural damage.
As of 2013, Fondation Leducq has supported 39 research networks, more than 360 investigators at 123 institutions in 18 countries. The Fondation Leducq was created in 1996 by Jean and Sylviane Leducq to support collaborative work between investigators in North America and Europe. The Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Research Program was launched in 2003.
The Cardiovascular Research Center at Mount Sinai directed by Dr. Hajjar was founded in 2007. It conducts cross-disciplinary basic and translational cardiovascular research to prevent and reverse heart disease, heart failure, and atherosclerosis which is the hardening of the heart's arteries due to plaque buildup — a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. The Center's research investigations focus on cardiovascular disease, heart failure, vascular disease, heart valve problems, and ventricular dysfunction.
"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death around the world. New global research alliances like ours, thanks to the generous support of the Fondation Leducq, will truly accelerate the development of more refined therapies to ease the wide-reaching burden of cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Hajjar.