Combining efforts to fight cardiovascular and respiratory diseases

Creating Europe's largest concentration of scientists and clinicians fighting chronic diseases

Combining efforts to fight cardiovascular and respiratory diseases

Heart and lung disease are respectively the first and third causes of premature death worldwide with an estimated global cost of £840 billion. Despite this, research funding is severely limited. In the UK alone, cancer research receives five times the funding allocated to heart disease, although heart disease affects over three times as many people.

  • Surgeon undertaking a medical procedure on the heart

Bringing cardiovascular and respiratory disease researchers together

In partnership with the Papworth Hospital, the Heart and Lung Research Institute (HLRI) will bring together researchers from different disciplines in what will be the largest concentration of cardiovascular and respiratory scientists and clinicians anywhere in Europe. The Hospital is the UK's largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital and the country's main heart and lung transplant centre, and the Institute will enable vital collaboration between the University, Hospital and industry.

The Heart and Lung Research Institute represents a remarkable opportunity to study in combination two of the world’s most costly and challenging health problems.

Professor Nick Morrell, Director of the HLRI
Professor Nicholas Morrell

Treating disease using drug or gene therapies

One example of where Cambridge has already experienced success in this area is through the research conducted by Professor Nick Morrell, Professor of Cardiopulmonary Medicine, and his team at the Department of Medicine. Having identified a major genetic cause of heart and lung disease, their work has the potential to offer new approaches to treating this debilitating condition through drug therapies or gene therapy. Given that the only effective cure currently available for this condition is a heart and lung transplant, this is a vital area for progress.

Large-scale population studies, led by Professor John Danesh, Head of the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the Institute of Public Health, are at the same time serving to strengthen our understanding of the genetic and biological basis of cardiovascular diseases. This will enable early diagnosis and treatments which could improve not only quality of life but also ease the economic burden on health care systems associated with chronic conditions. Such studies could enable doctors to identify symptoms in 40-50 year olds that will lead to serious conditions in their 70s, allowing preventative action to be taken.

How you can help us to develop treatments for heart and lung disease

Help us to leverage the existing support of the British Heart Foundation and establish Cambridge as a world-leading cardiovascular centre.  We have the potential to transform understanding of cardiovascular disease and develop treatments that will save lives around the world.

  • £60 million will fund the construction of the Heart and Lung Institute
  • £1.5 million will support a seminar room or a cardiovascular laboratory in the new Institute, with the option to name that space
  • £100,000 will support postdoctoral research associates to conduct cutting-edge scientific research
  • £50,000 will support PhD students to research these fatal diseases

Next steps

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Sara Dietz at work in a laboratory
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