Quality of Research
School of Medicine
Research Assessment Exercise (2008)
|Unit of Assessment||Staff submitted (FTE)||By percentage, research activity in the submission judged to reach quality standard|
|Cardiovascular Medicine (A1)||19.40||4||3||2||1||UC|
(Overall quality profile in blocks of 5%)
Research Profile: Cardiovascular Medicine
|Institution||% Research 4* and 3*|
|University of Oxford||85|
|University of Cambridge||85|
|King's College London||80|
|University of Manchester||75|
|Imperial College London||65|
|University of Glasgow||65|
|University of Bristol||55|
|University of Leeds||45|
|University of Birmingham||40|
Table continues to 11
The School of Medicine has a long-standing international reputation in cardiovascular research recently consolidated by the formation of the Cardiovascular Sciences Interdisciplinary Research Group housed mainly in the purpose-built Wales Heart Research Institute. The Institute provides laboratory space and facilities for patient-based research and has fostered strong links with the British Heart Foundation and industrial partners that build on its world-leading expertise in specific areas of basic and clinical research. More than 500 peer-reviewed papers have been published since the Institute opened in 1999.
The Interdisciplinary Research Group encourages a broad scientific portfolio that encompasses fundamental aspects of intracellular and intercellular signalling (via calcium, nitric oxide and gap junctions) and integrated clinical studies. Research strategies range from cutting-edge molecular and cellular biology to dynamic physiological vascular/myocardial imaging. The focus is to translate basic research findings into improved patient care in terms of diagnosis, treatment and outcome.
The Myocardial Biology group has made major advances in understanding the molecular biology and function of the ryanodine-sensitive channel which plays a central role in the intracellular calcium signalling that regulates myocyte contraction. Novel mechanisms have been discovered by which inherited and spontaneous ryanodine receptor mutations result in cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure and sudden cardiac death. The group works with both of Cardiff University’s Nobel Laureates – Professor Robert Huber (Chemistry, 1988) on high-resolution protein structure and Professor Sir Martin Evans (Medicine, 2007) on stem cells as novel therapies in cardiovascular regenerative medicine.
The Wales Heart Research Institute is the focus for Cardiovascular Research in Cardiff University.
The Vascular Biology group has wide interests in endothelial cell function, and in particular the role of nitric oxide (NO) and the phenomenon of endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization. Links between NO, oxidative stress, endothelial cell dysfunction and cardiovascular disease are under investigation, including the effects of elevated homocysteine levels and lipid oxidation pathways that may be relevant to the development of hypertension and atherosclerosis. The potential therapeutic use of exogenous nitrite as an NO source in patients with ischaemic heart disease and heart failure is also being explored. The group has pioneered a hypothesis that explains the existence of endothelium-dependent relaxations that are independent of NO, and is now addressing the role of endogenous regulators of direct cell-cell coupling to better understand this phenomenon in vascular disease.
A translational research program is investigating the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, focussing on the preclinical impact of cardiovascular risk factors on endothelial function and markers of endothelial injury, repair and ageing in relation to the progression of structural arterial disease and clinical events. Indices of arterial stiffness and dynamic endothelial function are being used to assess alterations in vascular function with ageing or disease and evaluate therapeutic interventions.
The Wales Heart Research Institute operates a unique internally-funded professional training year initiative. This scheme sponsors around six UK undergraduates each year in intercalating into their degree studies a one-year period of full-time supervised research training in the Institute. This allows them to develop skills relevant to cardiovascular research and has encouraged many to return and pursue full-time PhD studies.