Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of mortality in the United States and stroke is the #5 cause. Stroke is also the #1 cause of disability, and it, along with covert neurovascular disease including small vessel disease of the brain, leads to Vascular Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (VCID). Each year 800,000 Americans have a stroke and 720,000 Americans have myocardial infarction. There will be 75 million people with dementia by 2030 and 131 million by 2050. Direct annual costs of cardiovascular disease and stroke are $318 billion and dementia $277 billion. The American Heart Association issued a Presidential Advisory in 2017 highlighting the central role of cardiovascular health to brain health and cognitive function. Much of VCID is driven by increases in covert stroke and small vessel disease of the brain, research areas of expertise for the PIs of this application. To address these issues, this University of Vermont (UVM) Center on Cardiovascular and Brain Health (VCCBH) will leverage NIH funding and institutional commitment to convene multidisciplinary researchers across career stages to determine causes and suggest optimal treatments for cardiovascular and neurovascular disease, including stroke and VCID. We have selected four junior faculty (Project Directors, PDs), from three departments and two UVM colleges, through a rigorous selection process. The VCCBH will support the PDs' transition to independence using a Strategic Mentoring Initiative (SMI), Faculty Development Program (FDP), and assistance and education from two new Core facilities. The SMI will employ multidisciplinary Mentor Teams, including Peer Mentors. The FDP will comprise several educational programs highlighted by an annual 2-Day Research Symposium, and an impactful Pilot Grant program (supported by institutional commitments) that will provide $200,000 to four interdisciplinary research teams of junior faculty. We will establish two new Core facilities: Study Design and Molecular Epidemiology, and Customized Physiology and Imaging. A pipeline of new project directors will be developed from a pool of 19 current candidates and five new junior faculty, who will be recruited with committed institutional support. Capstones of the Center will include continual quality evaluation, clear communication and commitment to diversity. By the completion of Phase I of funding, the Center will be on a strong path to sustainability in research excellence.
Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, and are intimately related to cognitive impairment and dementia. Cardiovascular disease is not simply a disease of the heart or blood vessels, but rather it impacts every organ. We propose a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), the ?Vermont Center on Cardiovascular and Brain Health? (VCCBH) that will nucleate the University of Vermont's considerable research expertise in cardiovascular and neurovascular research to address these issues from diverse, mutually reinforcing basic science, clinical science and epidemiology perspectives. While advancing science, the Center will support the transition of early career faculty to independent scientists.