Shaun Coughlin, M.D., Ph.D., Director
The Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) performs cutting edge research illuminating cardiovascular and pulmonary biology and disease and trains clinicians and scientists to become future leaders of these fields.
The CVRI provides a home for a wide spectrum of investigation ranging from the most basic science to disease-focused and patient-based research. It links faculty interested in cardiovascular biology and disease across UCSF programs, departments and campuses. The diversity of CVRI's faculty and its collaborative culture fosters a multidisciplinary approach to research problems and provides an important bridge between UCSF’s outstanding clinical and basic science departments.
CVRI’s multidisciplinary approach has produced major advances in cardiovascular science and medicine. For example, an effort to understand air-water interfaces and the biophysics of alveolar inflation led directly to a treatment for respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants, leading to a 50% drop in mortality from this disease in the U.S. and elsewhere -- the largest single effect on infant mortality in recent history.
Ongoing research by Institute faculty ranges from understanding how hormones regulate cellular behaviors to uncovering the detailed mechanisms by which blood clots; from understanding the genes that govern the formation of heart muscle cells to how genes determine an individual's risk for heart disease; and from how lung tissue is formed in the embryo to how it is remodeled by chronic disease. Currently, CVRI has nearly 100 core and associate faculty conducting research on the following opportunities for progress:
The research training program of the Institute has played a central role in CVRI activities. Since 1958, over 2600 postdoctoral research fellows have trained in the CVRI and energized its research. The training program continues to flourish with approximately 100 current fellows and six National Institutes of Health-sponsored training grants. The CVRI's multidisciplinary research programs expose trainees to a wide spectrum of approaches and techniques and provide a broad perspective suitable for future leaders in cardiovascular science and medicine. Intensive mentored research experience is enriched by coursework created to prepare individuals for a career in academic biomedical science. Key to the success of the training program is the CVRI’s encouragement of collaboration among scientists in different disciplines and the interactions among their trainees.
Looking forward, the CVRI plans to expand into a new cardiovascular research building on UCSF's Mission Bay campus. The new facility will bring faculty, staff, and trainees with complementary skill sets together in dedicated neighborhoods reflecting the research themes described above. Each neighborhood will include basic and physician-scientists and will leverage the extraordinary research community that has developed at Mission Bay. At the same time, there will be substantial investment in supporting and growing the hospital-based CVRI research programs that will remain on the Parnassus campus.
Given the CVRI’s history of achievement, its robust training program, its critical mass of established investigators in pulmonary and cardiovascular research, and its close ties to some of the best basic science and clinical departments in the world, the CVRI is well positioned to make important new contributions to basic knowledge and clinical management of pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. The morbidity and mortality from these diseases will continue to be major public health challenges, and we hope and expect that the Institute’s contributions to advancing the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases will be as important in the next five decades as it has been in the last five.