First researchers announced for groundbreaking CVGPS project

November 17, 2014 Categories: Scientific Conferences & Meetings

Embargoed until 12 a.m. CT / 1 a.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014

CHICAGO, Nov. 17, 2014 — The first funded researchers in the groundbreaking Cardiovascular Genome-Phenome Study were announced during the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions on Sunday, with projects exploring a wide range of important topics including cardiovascular aging and death in diverse populations, interactions between genes and diet in blood vessel problems, and genetic signatures of tobacco exposure.

The Cardiovascular Genome-Phenome Study, also known as CVGPS, is designed to speed up the discovery of more personalized treatments and prevention for cardiovascular diseases and stroke – the leading causes of death in the world. CVGPS does this by enabling researchers for the first time to simultaneously access massive volumes of deeper-level data from multiple studies, including the famed Framingham Heart Study and Jackson Heart Study.

“These scientists are building the future on the power of the past and are following in the footsteps of the American Heart Association’s founders in a bold and novel way,” American Heart Association President Elliott Antman, M.D., FAHA, said while announcing the winners during his Presidential Address.

Here is a brief look at the awardees and the projects they will lead starting Feb. 1:

  • Ramy Arnaout, MD, Ph.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His project is focusing on diversity in cardiovascular diseases, aging and death in a large multi-ethnic study cohort.
  • Donna Arnett, Ph.D., M.P.H., B.S.N., University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her project will focus on the epigenetic determinants of left ventricular structure and function in hypertensive African-Americans.
  • Christy Avery, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of North Carolina. Her project will focus on pharmacogenomics of risk factors for cardiac arrhythmias in global populations.
  • Susan Cheng, M.D., Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Her project will focus on chronic inflammation, cardiovascular aging and longevity.
  • John Cole, M.D., M.S., University of Maryland, Baltimore. His project will focus on early-onset stroke, an extreme phenotype, to identify rare genetic variants in ischemic stroke.
  • Simin Liu, M.D., Sc.D., M.P.H.,  Brown University. His project will focus on integrative genomics of gene-diet interactions in vascular outcomes across ethnicities.
  • George O’Connor, M.D., M.S., Boston University Medical Campus. His project will focus on transcriptomatic and epigenetic signatures of tobacco exposure.
  • Marc Vidal, Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. His project will focus on integrated genetic, transcriptomic and epigenetic analysis of cardiovascular disease phenotypes.

CVGPS combines long-term population studies with the precision of molecular analysis at the individual level to characterize key distinctions within and between patient subgroups. These distinctions will point the way toward more precisely targeted, safer and more effective treatments based on a deeper understanding of individual risk profiles, therapeutic needs and other factors.

“What we are trying to do with CVGPS is to speed up progress,” said Joseph Loscalzo, M.D., chair of the American Heart Association Science Oversight Group for CVGPS, Hersey professor and chair of  medicine at Harvard Medical School, physician-in-chief at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and editor-in-chief of Circulation. “To use an analogy involving the speed of data delivery, we want to go from the days of the Pony Express to email.”

The researchers announced Sunday were awarded CVGPS Pathway Grants funded at $250,000 per year for two years. The funding is part of the $30 million over five years to be provided by the AHA, the nation’s largest funder of cardiovascular disease and stroke outside the federal government.

The AHA is leading the CVGPS collaboration, along with the academic coordinating centers of the Framingham and Jackson studies: Boston University, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson State University and Tougaloo College. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute also is a partner in CVGPS, which was announced last year during Scientific Sessions.

Framingham is the nation’s largest and longest-running heart research program, with data extending from the original participants into a third generation. The Jackson Heart Study is the nation’s largest research study focused on African Americans, who are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke compared to other ethnic and racial groups.


Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at

For Media Inquiries:
AHA News Media in Dallas: (214) 706-1173
AHA News Media Office, Nov. 15-19,
at the McCormick Place Convention Center: (312) 949-3400
For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

Life is why we fund scientific breakthroughs that save and improve lives.