Rhode Island Hospital’s Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) has been awarded a $7.36 million research project grant (R01) from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to study sudden cardiac arrest. The research will be focused on mechanisms to develop new therapies and strategies to prevent sudden cardiac arrest and to measure the impact of genetic and environmental factors on risk for sudden cardiac death. The grant will be paid out over five years and is the largest grant of its kind to be paid to a Lifespan partner hospital.
The grant is an R01 grant, the original and oldest grant mechanism used by the National Institutes of Health. Typically, R01 grants are for less than $250,000, and any organization requesting more than $500,000 per year must secure prior approval from the NIH to apply for the specialized grant. The grant issued to the CVRC at Rhode Island Hospital will be approximately $1.5 million per year, and is specific to the research project A Multi-Scale Approach to Cardiac Arrhythmia: from the Molecule to the Organ.
“R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health are incredibly difficult to come by and are highly competitive,” said Gideon Koren, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Rhode Island Hospital. “Major academic medical centers around the country bid for these grants each year in an effort to further their research to find cures, diagnostic tools and new therapies for the most pervasive and life-threatening diseases.”
Koren continued, “Receiving this award demonstrates that the NIH recognizes the quality and importance of the research being conducted at Rhode Island Hospital and specifically in the Cardiovascular Research Center. It also demonstrates the commitment of its researchers to discover new ways to prevent sudden cardiac arrest.” In sudden cardiac arrest, which affects more than 300,000 people in the U.S. each year, the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly, preventing blood from flowing to the brain and organs. The majority of those who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest die within minutes. According to the NIH, the risk of sudden cardiac arrest increases with age and men are two to three times more likely than women to suffer such an arrest.
“This award from the NIH is a remarkable achievement,” said Peter Snyder, Ph.D, senior vice president and chief research officer for Lifespan. “It underscores the quality of the research at Rhode Island Hospital and provides our researchers with the means to continue to explore new treatments and preventative measures of an illness that takes thousands of lives each year in the U.S.”
Koren was recruited to Rhode Island Hospital in 2005 to launch the Cardiovascular Research Center. Among the largest cardiovascular research programs in the country, the CVRC now is home for 43 investigators including undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and faculty, and receives over $3.8 million in direct costs from the federal government.
The CVRC will work in collaboration with researchers at Brown University; Northeastern University; Pennsylvania State University; and the University of California, Los Angeles. The grant was funded by the NIH funding agency the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, (NHLBI), grant number HL110791.