Division of Cardiovascular Sciences

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women, despite a 71 percent decrease in death rates since the NHLBI began making long-term investments in biomedical research more than 60 years ago. The Division of Cardiovascular Sciences (DCVS) supports research to advance understanding of and interventions for promoting heart and vascular health across the lifespan. It also supports research aimed at preventing and treating pediatric and adult cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and congenital heart disease. 

Promoting Heart Health and Fighting Cardiovascular Disease in Every Possible Way

With particular focus on understanding how these diseases impact diverse populations, research within the Division has changed people’s lifestyle choices, communities’ health policies, and physicians’ practices, including how they diagnose, assess, and treat cardiovascular disease for every patient. Research supporting these discoveries takes many forms, including:

  • Epidemiological cohort studies that investigate genetic, behavioral, sociocultural, systemic, and environmental influences on disease risk and outcomes, as well as monitor risk factors and disease patterns in specific populations. One example is the Jackson Heart Study, which seeks to identify contributors to the increased incidence and mortality rate of cardiovascular disease among African Americans.
  • Clinical trial networks to enhance participant recruitment, data collection, and analysis. and to encourage collaboration among investigators with unique expertise. For example, the Pediatric Heart Network (PHN) conducts research to improve outcomes and quality of life for children with congenital and pediatric heart diseases. The PHN has nine main clinical sites and has enrolled more than 3,500 patients.
  • Basic and translational science investigations to understand and ensure that vital new devices and treatments advance to clinical testing, such as the Pumps for Kids, Infants, and Neonates (PumpKIN) initiative supporting the development of needed novel child-sized mechanical circulatory support devices.
  • Studies of prevention and treatment strategies that inform improvements to clinical care and public health, including trials such as the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), which has demonstrated the benefit of setting lower blood pressure targets for reducing heart attack, heart failure, and stroke, as well as death from these conditions.

Leading Multi-Institutional Collaborations to Advance Research Progress

The Division leads many partnerships and collaborations that reach throughout the NHLBI, across the entire National Institutes of Health, and to other agencies, all with the shared goal of advancing the understanding of every aspect of cardiovascular diseases. Trans-agency partners include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and many others.

Achieving the NHLBI Strategic Vision through Collaboration

The Division relies on comprehensive community input to develop research priorities and target support for relevant science that will advance cardiovascular health in the United States. Learn more about the NHLBI’s Strategic Vision, including objectives and research priorities.

Division Leadership

What We Do

Adult and Pediatric Cardiac Research Program

The Adult and Pediatric Cardiac Research Program focuses on heart function from birth through adulthood. Specific focus areas include coronary artery disease and atherothrombosis, cardiac development, pediatric and congenital heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, myocardial protection from ischemia, and resuscitation science. Branches within this program include the Atherothrombosis and Coronary Artery Disease Branch, Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch, and Heart Failure and Arrhythmias Branch. View funding information for the Adult and Pediatric Cardiac Research Program.

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Basic and Early Translational Research Program

The Basic and Early Translational Research Program emphasizes the development of imaging and diagnostics, therapeutics, and devices for cardiac support and repair. The program supports evidence-based surgical and clinical research that advances promising new techniques, bioinformatics, and computational and systems biology, as well as the study of the vascular system, lymphatics, and blood pressure regulation. Branches within this program include the Advanced Technologies and Surgery Branch and Vascular Biology and Hypertension Branch. View funding information for the Basic and Early Translational Research Program.

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Prevention and Population Sciences Program

The Prevention and Population Sciences Program focuses on a wide range of research in epidemiology and prevention. Major activities supported include population-based cohort studies; studies of genetic, behavioral, and environmental influences on disease risk and outcomes; and clinical trials focused on prevention and improvements to clinical care and public health. Branches within this program include the Clinical Applications and Prevention Branch and Epidemiology Branch. View funding information for the Prevention and Population Sciences Program.

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Office of Biostatistics Research

The Office of Biostatistics Research (OBR) serves as the primary biostatistical resource for all of the NHLBI. The members of the Office collaborate broadly, participating in the planning, design, implementation, monitoring and analyses of studies funded by NHLBI, including clinical studies and basic biomedical science. OBR also undertakes data management and analysis of some studies sponsored by the Division of Intramural Research. The OBR’s primary mission is to provide objective, statistically sound, and medically relevant solutions to problems that are presented. When new methodology is needed to answer the questions posed, the OBR is expected to obtain new and valid statistical solutions which are then published in the biostatistics or medical literature. The professional staff of the OBR has interests in statistical methodology relevant to clinical research studies. Methodological interests include survival analysis, longitudinal data analysis, statistical genetics, and efficient study designs for clinical trials, including monitoring for efficacy and safety while trials are ongoing and mid-trial corrections. The OBR has been at the forefront of research in new statistical methods in these areas. The OBR has one initiative of its own, the Summer Institute for Research Education in Biostatistics (SIBS). View funding information for the Office of Biostatistics Research.

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Office of Clinical Research

The Office of Clinical Research is responsible for coordinating clinical research oversight and regulatory activities among NHLBI extramural divisions.  This includes developing and maintaining standard operating procedures, guiding policy and practice, developing database and informatics tools to facilitate clinical research oversight, providing staff support to NHLBI-funded trials, and managing NHLBI’s data and safety monitoring boards and other clinical research oversight boards. OCR staff conduct training, and advise NHLBI staff and extramural investigators about clinical research conduct and requirements. View funding information for the Office of Clinical Research.

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