The nation's top health officials will honor residents of Framingham, Mass., Nov. 29, when they visit the Boston-area community to pay tribute to the thousands of individuals who have participated in the landmark Framingham Heart Study.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, the keynote speaker at an event in Framingham honoring the participants, will discuss a new initiative involving the use of genetic data from the study. This represents the first time a Secretary of HHS has visited a community especially to recognize and express the nation's thanks to those who have taken part in medical research.
Secretary Leavitt will be joined by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., and Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Director of NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which funds the research, as well as others involved in the study, which is carried out in conjunction with Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). Dr. Robert Brown, president of Boston University, will also attend.
Invitations to the celebration of the Framingham Heart Study are being sent to more than 9,000 current participants in what is widely considered to be one of the most important epidemiological studies in the history of American medicine. The study is entering its 60th year.
"Our scientific progress in biomedical research depends on the willingness of thousands of Americans to take part in research," Secretary Leavitt said in announcing his visit. "The Framingham Heart Study is a standout example, as it spans three generations and has yielded some of our most important basic knowledge about heart disease. Today, Framingham is poised to make important new contributions based on extensive genetic data from the study."
Genetic information from the Framingham study was recently made available to qualified researchers, in order to advance understanding of the genetic role in heart disease and other conditions. The information is stripped of identifiers to protect the privacy and confidentiality of participants.
"The people of Framingham and vicinity have made an important contribution to the health of our nation and the world, and we are delighted that Secretary Leavitt will recognize that contribution," said BUSM Dean Karen H. Antman, M.D.
Earlier in the day, Secretary Leavitt will address a conference at Harvard Medical School regarding the goals of personalized health care, including the use of genomic information for achieving greater effectiveness in medical treatment.