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NIHR Cambridge BRC Cardiovascular and Respiratory Theme

NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Cardiovascular & Respiratory Disease research theme is led by Prof Nick Morrell.

Heart and lung diseases are the leading causes of premature death worldwide. In the UK alone, 1 in 4 of us will die from heart disease, and 1 in 5 from lung disease. Additionally, many patients live with chronic heart and lung diseases that severely limit their life quality.

This research theme will address the unmet need in heart and lung disease. Ultimately the aim is to improve prediction, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and respiratory disease through an interdisciplinary approach.

The theme will focus on:

  • Use of biomarkers to accurately predict the patients at high risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
  • Identification of new treatments to both common and rarer types of heart and lung diseases.

Some of the cardiovascular research questions are:

  • Blood clots and heart disease: Platelets can trigger heart disease when they block an otherwise healthy blood vessel. To counter this risk doctors can prescribe certain medicines called anti-platelet agents – but these do not always work and can have severe side effects. Our research will look into why platelets malfunction and how we can refine medicines to be more effective.
  • Irregular heart beat: Atrial fibrillation is a major cause of heart disease and stroke but treatment remains rudimentary and the risk of blood clots is high. Our research will look at how we can detect atrial fibrillation early, treat it, and even prevent it.
  • Heart attack: The commonest cause of heart attack is atherosclerosis, where arteries become clogged with plaques. We use imaging to identify high-risk patients and to treat them before the plaques rupture. We also develop new drugs to treat the symptoms of atherosclerosis.

The Centre's research is spread across multiple sites, with invasive and some non-invasive research performed at Papworth Hospital, and non-invasive, preclinical and basic research performed at Addenbrooke's hospital and the University of Cambridge. Collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians is promoted to foster the transmission of new scientific findings into clinical practice. Active researchers have been listed under Investigators.

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