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Cambridge Cardiovascular


NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Cardiovascular & Respiratory Disease research theme is led by Professor Martin Bennett together with Dr Mark Toshner and Dr Nicholas Evans as co-leads.

Cardiovascular and respiratory 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. Half of all deaths from heart disease are sudden and unexpected. 

The theme will focus on: 

  • Use of existing drugs that are proven in other diseases to treat cardiovascular and respiratory disease (known as ‘repurposing’), resulting in faster approval and wider implementation. 

  • Use of remote monitoring of patient and community-based programmes to get early patient, public and system benefits via better diagnosis, early intervention, improved uptake and reduced admissions. 

  • Developing new drugs that are designed to treat complications of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, including lung infections and heart failure. 

  • Combining analysis of patient records and diagnostic tests to improve prediction of disease exacerbations and prevent future events.


Here are some of the conditions we are researching:

Heart attack 

The commonest cause of heart attack is atherosclerosis, where arteries become clogged with white fatty substances (plaques). We will develop new drugs to treat the effects of atherosclerosis, and new imaging technologies (such as high-tech scans) to follow high-risk patients and treat them before the plaques rupture. We will also examine how we can better treat and rehabilitate patients with heart failure, where the heart doesn’t pump properly after a heart attack. 

Lung disease 

In respiratory disease, our focus is lung infection, acute lung injury and bronchiectasis (a long-term condition that makes the lungs more vulnerable to infection). Existing treatments do not slow the progression of the conditions, and patients with chronic lung disease, often have worsening of their disease due to infection. Early diagnosis and treatment of infections can stop patients getting worse, limit the need for antibiotics, prevent patients’ being admitted to hospital, and reduce spread of infections. 

Small vessel stroke 

Strokes caused by blockage of small arteries in the brain are called small vessel strokes, and there is currently no treatment for this form of stroke. We are investigating how commonly used drugs could both prevent small artery stroke and reduce the damage done, reducing the disability from stroke. 

Artificial intelligence-based analysis of health records and diagnostic tests 

We are examining how computer-based examination of large numbers of patient records; blood tests and new scans can accurately predict outcome in lung infections and heart attacks. This approach can both personalise and target appropriate treatment to specific patients, improving their care and better utilising health resources. 

Genetic analysis 

We are using powerful new techniques to examine genetic information from both patients and infections to develop new drugs and reduce the spread of lung infections in patients with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory disease 


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 wet and dry lab research performed at Addenbrooke's hospital and the University of Cambridge. Collaboration between basic scientists, clinicians and Industry is promoted to foster the transmission of new scientific findings into clinical practice.

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We connect cardiovascular researchers in Cambridge and beyond.

For inquiries about our research, please contact Dr Jane Sugars

For enquiries about our website or joining Cambridge Cardiovascular, please contact Denise Hatherly

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