Framingham Heart Study
A single question can resound through generations.
In 1948, a group of healthcare researchers, responding to an epidemic of heart attacks in the United States, asked: “Why do some people develop cardiovascular disease while others do not?”
It was a query that launched the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), a multi-generational investigation into the genetic and environmental causes of cardiovascular disease that laid the groundwork for modern preventive cardiology.
What began as a public-health survey has evolved into a global network of collaborative research run by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston University School of Public Health (SPH) in partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
A Global Data Source
From thousands of blood samples of FHS volunteers, Boston University scientists have created an invaluable genetic and biosample biorepository, large databanks, and other resources that have enabled the pinpointing of genes responsible for the development and progression of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
BUSM and SPH made the decision to share this gold mine of data with fellow scientists around the world. To date, nearly 4,000 academic articles have been produced from FHS data—and countless lives saved across the globe from medical breakthroughs based on that data. These studies are published in leading medical journals, bringing to a wider audience advances in specialties including cardiology, neuroscience, genetics and heredity, lipidology, and endocrinology.
Serving the Community
More than 15,000 individuals in the Boston area, including many of the children and grandchildren of the original FHS volunteers, have participated in this groundbreaking study. In the early 1990s, BU researchers began the Omni Study, recruiting people of color into the ranks of participants to see how their genetic and cultural heritage factors into their risk for chronic illness. The FHS of today includes people of African American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American descent, enabling our researchers to improve the health of people worldwide. Omni Study participants now number about 900.
How You Can Help
The Framingham Heart Study is interwoven into the very fabric of American life. Every time we read a news article, visit a doctor, or even think about our own health, we are using language and concepts like “risk factor,” first introduced by FHS. Our research relies on the continued flow of information into the FHS laboratories, the personnel to review it, and the creation of new directions for the next generation of researchers. Support for research fellowships, faculty and staff, and advanced technologies helps us remain leaders in this scientific quest. Our original question, “Why do some people develop cardiovascular disease while others do not?” has resonated through millions of lives in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. So, we ask you: will you please to join us in sustaining and growing this iconic inquiry?