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New Cardiovascular Physiology Research Center hopes to position CSU as a leader in cardiovascular research and graduate education

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – at a rate of 30-40%. Start talking to people, and you’ll quickly learn that almost everyone has a story about how heart disease has impacted their family and friends. For a group of researchers at Colorado State University, those statistics are both haunting and unacceptable, and they are taking steps to bring a new level of focus to cardiovascular research programs at CSU.
 
On the heels of this spring’s successful Colloquium on Cardiovascular Research, a newly approved Cardiovascular Physiology Research Center will officially launch on July 1st, and begin working to enhance cross-campus synthesis of cardiovascular research and graduate training.  In development for almost seven years, the new center will position the university as a leader in cardiovascular research by leveraging the world-class expertise already on campus and building an organized platform for research collaboration and scientific communication. Helping to lead the charge for the new center is Director Dr. Scott Earley, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
 
“The idea came about because there are a lot of people in different departments across campus doing work in cardiovascular physiology, but we’ve never had a home where everyone can get together and share research and ideas,” said Dr. Earley. “Right now, contact across departments is pretty limited, but there is value in people sitting down face to face and having conversations – lots of synergy can come from those social interactions and impromptu meetings.”
 
Research collaboration isn’t the only goal the new Center hopes to accomplish; graduate education will also be a core focus. Currently, there isn’t a formal mechanism to bring new graduate students into faculty labs, but that will soon change. One of the Center’s main missions is to develop a graduate intake program that can bring in students – undifferentiated – to do interdisciplinary lab rotations before they find their primary home base.
 
“One of our long-term goals is to increase graduate student enrollment fairly significantly – 2-3 students per year,” said Dr. Earley. “Eventually we’d have a community of 15-20 additional PhD students that wouldn’t be here otherwise, all focused on solving one of our largest global health issues.”
 
While Dr. Earley and his colleagues have already jumped through a number of administrative hoops to get the program up and running, they still face an uphill battle as they begin to seek out funding and resources for the new Center.
 
“I think we have a lot of strength in this research area and could increase our competitiveness for national funding if we were centrally organized, but we need some help from central administration to really push it over the top,” said Earley. “We hope to continue building momentum going forward, but without any start-up resources, it will take some time to get to where we need to be.”
 
This type of collaborative model is not new for biomedical research in higher education, and many interdisciplinary cardiovascular research centers already exist across the US and abroad. For CSU, the main goal is to build a small, focused community that excels at innovative cardiovascular research and can work collaboratively to make a global impact.
 
 “There’s not a single person in the world that can say ‘why do I need to learn this’ or ‘this doesn’t matter,’ every single person is touched by this disease and these problems,” said Dr. Earley. “CSU has the potential to be internationally recognized for cardiovascular research – the faculty are in place and with modest support, we could really make a difference for a lot of people.”
 

 
Dr. Scott Earley, Department of Biomedical Sciences directs the Cardiovascular Physiology Center with Associate Director Dr. Frank Dinenno in the Department of Health and Exercise Science. To learn more about the center contact Dr. Earley at scott.earley@colostate.edu or Dr. Dinenno at frank.dinenno@colostate.edu.