BUSM's Framingham Heart Study Receives $1M Challenge Grant

in Uncategorized
October 5th, 2009

Boston University School of Medicine’s (BUSM) Framingham Heart Study (FHS) has received a two-year $1M challenge grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

According to FHS investigator Emelia Benjamin, MD, ScM, a professor of medicine at BUSM and professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, the challenge grant will be used to add two statisticians to help identify risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation beyond the aging of the heart. FHS will also work with investigative groups at the University of Minnesota, with Joint-Principal Investigator, Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, as well as researchers in Iceland, Germany and the Netherlands.

The novelty of the FHS challenge study is that the investigative team includes collaborators at five other major cohort studies who will work together to develop the most accurate way to predict atrial fibrillation with simple clinical factors. The researchers will then examine whether new biomarkers or genetic tests add significantly to the ability to predict new-onset atrial fibrillation.

“It is a tremendous privilege to receive this challenge grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute,” said Benjamin. “We now have the opportunity to make major headway in the prevention of atrial fibrillation.”

The objective of the FHS is to identify the common factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease by following its development over a long period of time in a large group of participants who have not yet developed overt symptoms of cardiovascular disease or suffered a heart attack or stroke.

The researchers recruited 5,209 people between the ages of 30-62 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. Since 1948, the participants have continued to return to the study every two years for a detailed medical history, physical examination and laboratory tests. In 1971, the study enrolled a second generation, 5,124 of the original participants’ adult children and their spouses to participate in similar examinations. In April 2002, the study enrolled a third generation of participants, the grandchildren of the original cohort.

Over the years, careful monitoring of the FHS population has led to identification of major cardiovascular risk factors, as well as valuable information on the effects of these factors such as blood pressure, blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels, gender and psychological issues.

More information on the FHS can be found at http://www.framinghamheartstudy.org.