Future of Research

Hilltop Park
   Your heart works nonstop to deliver nutrient-
   rich blood to every part of the body.

The Columbia Cardiovascular Research Initiative (CVRI) is the conceptualization of a comprehensive long-term approach to cardiovascular research designed by Dr. Lee Goldman Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine. Dr. Goldman established the CVRI as part of the CUMC strategic plan for the future. The focus is on continuing to build in areas of strength and identifying areas ripe for development.

How will the CVRI affect the Wu Center? If we are successful in raising philanthropic funds, the CVRI can be transformative! Columbia has great strengths in many areas of molecular cardiology, including heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, and atherosclerosis. Many of these important advances have been made by the Wu Center’s faculty and are outlined in this issue of Heart Horizons.

But we need to expand our reach in other areas, including genetics and hypertension. In order to maintain excellence in our areas of strength and to fill the gaps in areas of need, we must recruit new faculty and build programs. These are tough times for biomedical researchers in all fields. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), by far the most important source of funding for molecular cardiology, is in the doldrums. Success rates for NIH grants are in single digits and researchers, as well as those thinking of going into the field, are losing hope. Much great science has been put on hold due to lack of funding. This translates into lost opportunities for patients with heart disease; discovery has been slowed and new therapies have been delayed.

It has never been more important to find sources of funding other than the NIH. The CVRI is our big hope for the future. Will Columbia be able to reach its full potential and continue to produce paradigm-changing discoveries that bring new hope to patients with heart disease?

We don’t know the answer to that question yet, but we are ever hopeful. In this issue of Heart Horizons, you will find brief articles describing the incredible advances made by seven of the Wu Center faculty. These run the gamut from fighting atherosclerosis, still the leading cause of heart attacks, to using zebrafish to understand how and why some babies are born with developmental defects in their hearts. Please feel free to contact Dr. Andrew Marks ( with any questions you have about our research and how it may affect you and your family. We look forward to partnering with you to fight heart disease and to improve the lives of our patients!

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