The UCLA Cardiovascular Research Laboratory was established in 1957 with a gift from the American Heart Association (AHA). Since then, UCLA physician-scientists have been at the forefront of groundbreaking and collaborative investigations, accelerating discoveries that have altered the course of cardiovascular research and treatments. On September 26, 2017, UCLA celebrated this six-decade partnership with the AHA at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.
The event spotlighted two outstanding cardiovascular researchers who have made a significant impact on the fight against heart disease and stroke. Dr. Gregg Fonarow (MD ’87, RES ’90, FEL ’93), director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, co-chief of the UCLA Division of Cardiology and a longtime AHA/American Stroke Association volunteer, was honored with the AHA Los Angeles Volunteer of the Year Award for his efforts to create best practices that improve care for heart disease and stroke patients and for his research. Dr. James N. Weiss (FEL ’81), director of the UCLA Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, chief of the UCLA Division of Cardiology and Chizuko and Nobuyuki Kawata Chair in Cardiology, received the inaugural UCLA Cardiovascular Research Leadership Award.
When it was established in 1957, the UCLA Cardiovascular Research Lab was the country’s first local, privately supported research laboratory. Some of its milestones over six decades of excellence include:
• The development of an effective solution to protect the heart during open heart surgery;
• Research published by Dr. Weiss in the journal Science, demonstrating that complex proteins regulate cardiac ion channels, which are critical for all aspects of cardiac function;
• Performance of the first heart-lung transplant by a UCLA team;
• Discovery by UCLA researchers of how to stop cardiac scars from producing arrhythmias;
• Development of an evidence-based program by Dr. Fonarow for managing coronary artery disease that serves as a prototype for the AHA’s “Get with the Guidelines” program, now practiced in more than 2,500 hospitals, benefiting more than seven-million patients;
<• Performance of the UCLA Heart Transplant Program’s 2,000th heart transplant in 2012, making UCLA the first program in the Western United States and only the second in the world to achieve this milestone.
Cardiovascular investigators at UCLA continue to design therapies and interventions that prevent and effectively treat heart disease. Supporting their efforts are cross-campus collaborations facilitated by the Cardiovascular Research Theme, one of six unified research strategies established by the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Few places have the ability to transcend the different levels of innovation, from devices to surgical procedures, and molecular diagnostics to new therapies,” said Dr. Yibin Wang, professor of anesthesiology, medicine and physiology and chair of the UCLA Cardiovascular Research Theme. “UCLA is already a leader in the field, and with the Cardiovascular Research Theme collaborations, our progress has accelerated.”
For more information, contact Michelle Jacobson at: 310-267-1213