FYI from the NHLBI Index

December 2000: Vol. 1, Issue 3
Summaries of Meetings
and Announcements of Upcoming Events

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council's Fall Meetings
  • September 8, 2000
  • October 19, 2000

NHLBI to Hold Second Annual Public Interest Organization Meeting

February is American Heart Month

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council's Fall Meetings

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council (NHLBAC) meets four times a year in Bethesda, MD. Full minutes of Council meetings are available online. The Council's next meeting is scheduled for February 1, 2001, at 8:30 AM. It is open to the public and will be held at the NIH in Building 31C, Conference Room 10.

The FYI from the NHLBI staff thanks Mrs. Judith Simpson, member of the NHLBAC and Vice President, Pulmonary Hypertension Association, for her efforts in preparing this article.

September 8, 2000 Meeting

Following preliminary remarks by Dr. Claude Lenfant, Director of the NHLBI, the Council engaged in a discussion of patient safety during clinical trials. It is of paramount importance to the NIH that investigators conducting studies with human subjects ensure patient safety. Dr. Amy Patterson, Director of the NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities, described the oversight of NIH-funded gene therapy trials. Dr. Sonia Skarlatos, NHLBI, described the roles of data and safety monitoring boards. A discussion ensued about patient education and informed consent. It is hoped that recommendations for improvements in ensuring patient safety will emerge from a NIH patient safety symposium and a cardiovascular safety symposium to be held this winter.

Dr. Susan Old, NHLBI, presented information on the NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative and Consortium. Simply put, the data deluge has created informatic and computational challenges in areas including surgery, clinical practice, medical genetics, clinical trials, drug development, and cell biology.

Dr. Carl Roth, NHLBI, presented information about the increase in the average cost of research grants. Dr. Lenfant noted that the primary concern is that as big dollar grants grow, the amount of funding for investigators with innovative research projects will decrease. On the other hand, genomics research and other new research areas that require big-ticket grants will change the way medicine is practiced. The Council began discussing possible ways of achieving a balance in funding to ensure continuation of both types of projects.

The Council awarded 115 grants for a total cost of $72,730,466.

October 19, 2000 Meeting

In his opening statement, Dr. Lenfant acknowledged and thanked five Council members whose terms are expiring and announced the appointment of five new members.

Dr. Teri Manolio, NHLBI, reported on the activities pertaining to NHLBI training programs. Discussion focused on training in new disciplines to improve clinical and behavioral research, developing multidisciplinary programs to bridge areas of expertise, encouraging future research training programs and mentorships, and involving students early (for example, at the elementary school level) in exciting, interesting science. With rapidly emerging developments, it is the goal of the NHLBI to match research needs with appropriate training opportunities.

Dr. Robert Balaban, NHLBI, described how noninvasive imaging technologies have moved rapidly into clinical applications. Dr. George Sopko, NHLBI, discussed the surgical treatment of ischemic heart failure. Investigators are asking if the NHLBI, with cooperation and support from the Health Care Financing Administration, would be willing to receive a grant application to study the effectiveness of surgical anterior ventricle restoration (SAVR) in treating ischemic heart failure. SAVR, which has been performed for years in locations scattered throughout the country, reshapes the diseased heart from a watermelon shape to its original football shape. The Council recommended that the Institute agree to review the application.

Thirteen concepts for future NHLBI scientific initiatives were reviewed and supported by the Council. The recompetition for the ten Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers that the NHLBI is required by law to support also was discussed. The Council concurred on the award of 152 grants for a total cost of $59,558,494.

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NHLBI to Hold Second Annual Public Interest Organization Meeting

On January 31, 2001, the NHLBI will bring together representatives from 70 public interest organizations, members of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council (NHLBAC), and senior Institute staff to discuss how the organizations and the Institute can better support research, get the message out, and promote high quality clinical studies. As it did for last year's meeting, the Institute is supporting travel for one representative selected by each invited organization.

Many of the representatives also are planning to attend the NHLBAC meeting the following day. The Council, which is composed of a diverse mix of scientific and public leaders, plays an essential role in establishing and implementing NHLBI objectives. They have been strong proponents of all of the Institute's public liaison activities, including the FYI from the NHLBI and the NHLBI Express that arose from last year's meeting.


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February is American Heart Month

On December 20, 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson approved a joint congressional resolution to designate February as American Heart Month. Since the tradition began, our nation has made enormous progress in its fight against heart disease. Scientists have identified risk factors (e.g., smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity) and treatments to prevent and treat heart disease. The death rate from coronary heart disease has fallen dramatically in the United States, with a nearly 60-percent reduction since its peak in the mid-1960s. However, heart disease remains a serious health problem. More than 58 million Americans have one or more types of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and each year nearly 1 million Americans die from CVD. Many of the factors that increase a person's risk of CVD are at least partially controllable. Please, do your part and take care of your heart. Ask your physician to help you determine the best strategy for reducing your risk for heart disease. And help us spread the word by circulating the FYI from the NHLBI to people who might be interested.

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