Public Release: 

BIDMC's Ramy Arnaout receives American Heart Association grant

Project is part of new cardiovascular genome-phenome study

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

BOSTON - Ramy Arnaout, MD, DPhil, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School has been awarded a two-year $500,000 grant from the American Heart Association (AHA) to study the role of antibody diversity in cardiovascular disease (CVD), aging and death in a comprehensive, multi-ethnic, multi-regional study of over 1,000 Americans.

Arnaout is one of only eight investigators to be selected through AHA's Cardiovascular Genome-Phenome Study (CVGPS) program, which enables researchers to make new discoveries in genomic and personalized medicine by using massive volumes of clinical and biological data from multiple cohort studies, including the well-known Framingham Heart Study and the Jackson Heart Study. By combining extensive, longitudinal phenotypic data from these populations with molecular analyses of biological samples from individual study participants, the CVGPS aims to characterize key distinctions within and among patient subgroups and gain a deeper understanding of individual risk profiles, therapeutic needs and other factors.

"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," AHA President Elliott Antman, MD, said in announcing the CVGPS winners during the 2014 AHA Scientific Sessions recently held in Chicago.

Arnaout's work focuses on the new field of immunomics, the high-throughput study of antibodies and T cells in the immune system. Among his recent findings are important new discoveries surrounding antibody repertoires (each individual's complement of millions of B cells) and the potential for shaping these repertoires to better fight disease.

"The B and T cells of the immune system are known to play important roles in vaccination, infection and autoimmunity," says Arnaout. "Mounting evidence suggests the same is true in cardiovascular disease, but we do not yet have a good understanding of how. With this generous support from the American Heart Association, we will now be able to analyze antibody repertoires of over 1,000 white, black, Hispanic and Asian subjects, in order to clarify the link between antibodies, cardiovascular disease and aging for a representative cross-section of the U.S. population."

Because an array of pharmacological and lifestyle-based interventions known to affect the immune system already exist, the hope is that by better understanding the link between B cells and CVD, clinicians might already have access to treatment options for their cardiovascular patients once they can determine patients' individual needs.

"If we can better understand the link between B cells and cardiovascular disease, we will learn whether these interventions can help prevent disease and lead to healthier lives," adds Arnaout.

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Arnaout is the principal investigator of this multi-institutional project, which also involves investigators at the University of Washington, University of Vermont, and University of California, San Francisco.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide.

BIDMC is in the community with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance, and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hebrew Senior Life and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and The Jackson Laboratory. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit http://www.bidmc.org.

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