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Translational Science Unit

University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute established the Translational Science Unit (TSU) to complement clinical research and basic science efforts. This specialized unit allows unique opportunities to share and address fundamental questions across cardiovascular disorders in support of earlier intervention. The TSU also provides the necessary infrastructure for investigator-initiated studies.

Translation is the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and populations — from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes. Understanding this process, the TSU provides a foundation for more science-driven, predictive and effective development of treatment and prevention strategies for all heart and vascular diseases.

Our TSU scientists are relentless explorers who play a critical role in breaking down barriers in the translation process and ultimately deliver more treatments to more people more quickly.

Translational Science Spectrum

The translational science spectrum (T1-T4) represents each stage of research along the pathway from the biological basis of health and disease to interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public. Each stage builds upon and informs the others. Patient engagement is a critical feature of all stages in translation.

translational science spectrum
The Fundamental Characteristics of a Translational Scientist. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science 2019 2 (3), 213-216. DOI: 10.1021/acsptsci.9b00022
The Fundamental Characteristics of a Translational Scientist. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science 2019 2 (3), 213-216. DOI: 10.1021/acsptsci.9b00022

The University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute TSU includes all four tracks of the translational spectrum and collaborates with the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Our TSU is especially interested in developing the next generation of translational scientists. We believe that successful translational scientists imbue seven critical attributes required to function in a complex medical universe a requiring broad understanding of not just one but several domains and a keen science of emerging trends. The figure to the left depicts the unique attributes of successful translational scientists.

Precision Care Pathways
Adapted from Eliminating Missed Opportunities in the Care of Patients with or at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Rajagopalan S, Pronovost P, Neeland, I. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Feb 27;S1043-2760(21)00038-2.

Precision Care Pathways

As more organizations start to pursue the benefits of personalized treatments, University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute has led the nation in the preemptive introduction of precision care pathways by introducing rapid approaches to facilitate precision medicine diagnostics and treatment, encompassing the spectrum of advances in genomics, personalized monitoring, imaging and technical infrastructure needed to carry out these tasks.

The most significant opportunity for precision medicine may be in population health, where such strategies could identify the highest risk patients for preventive efforts that might ultimately lower cost.

University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute has teamed up with colleagues in our University Hospitals Population Health Institute to facilitate the next generation of precision medicine-guided population health. Our no-charge calcium scoring program is one such investment to facilitate the identification and treatment of patients at risk for cardiovascular disease. This bold community initiative was launched in 2017 after several pilots to heighten patient and physician awareness of heart disease and accelerate the institution of lifestyle and pharmacologic measures to treat heart disease. An analysis of our CLARIFY registry data demonstrates that once the financial burden is removed, CAC testing increases in medically underserved and undertreated populations.

Implementation Science

In our nation’s complex healthcare system, many proven effective diagnostic strategies and medical therapies don’t always reach the patients who need them. Implementation science is the study of how to bridge this gap to improve public health.

University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute investigators are testing innovative implementation strategies to improve access to care for vulnerable populations. Importantly, this research involves engaging key stakeholders in the community through human-centered design and other participatory research approaches.

Translational Trials

University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute’s Center for Advanced Heart & Vascular Care is equipped with novel imaging equipment for cardiopulmonary characterization using exercise cardiopulmonary testing performed within an MRI machine for advanced understanding of cardiac and lung abnormalities.

Other translational trials at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute include:

  • A pragmatic trial investigating the effect of community health workers led intervention on cardiometabolic risk factors using calcium scoring in Cleveland’s African American community
  • A multi-site clinical trial of a nurse-led intervention to improve blood pressure and cholesterol care for people living with HIV

Precision Phenotyping Studies

  • Ongoing study investigating the effects of COVID long haul syndrome on heart health using state of the art exercise cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging approaches
  • Study investigating the impact of structural interventions such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR) on exercise performance and other functional parameters
  • Prospective randomized controlled clinical trial investigating the impact of mineralocorticoid receptor blockade in atherosclerosis
  • Study investigating the use of novel magnetic resonance imaging approaches such as magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF) to diagnose structural heart problems