Diseases of the heart and blood vessels are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, with about 81 million Americans diagnosed with one or more types of cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease), according to the American Heart Association. In this group, about 831,000 deaths occur each year.

Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) building.

While there has been significant progress in preventing, diagnosing and treating cardiovascular disease, the aging population is at increased risk and is growing, which underscores the need for discovery and delivery of ever more effective prevention and treatment.

Experts at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are among the world’s leaders in both heart and vascular diseases. The University’s heart and vascular care programs have long brought together cardiologists, cardiac and vascular surgeons, interventional radiologists, and other specialists to provide the most advanced and effective prevention, screening and treatments.

In addition, some of today’s most effective procedures were originally developed at UCSF, which has one of the largest communities of basic science and clinical researchers anywhere in the world studying cardiovascular disease.

Teresa De Marco, MD with patient

Teresa De Marco, MD with patient Rudi Fronk.

This community got a major boost in November 2010 with the opening of the UCSF Smith Cardiovascular Research Building at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. Housing both clinical and research programs, the building is specifically designed to enhance UCSF’s commitment to translational medicine. Clinicians work side by side with scientists, including those at the legendary Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI), which for more than 50 years has produced a steady stream of work that has improved the quality of life for heart and vascular patients.

“By bringing our experts together, we will build upon the tradition in which UCSF researchers and clinicians move clinical questions rapidly from the bedside to the laboratory and back again in ways that continuously enhance the care of our patients,” says Jeffrey Olgin, MD, chief of the UCSF Division of Cardiology. The effect is expected to be global.

“Given CVRI’s history, we have every reason to believe that the work done in this building will benefit victims of cardiovascular disease the world over,” says Shaun Coughlin, MD, PhD, director of CVRI.