Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. Texas A&M University has a long-standing history of excellence in cardiovascular science in several collaborating colleges, including a unique ability to perform translational research on client owned animals with naturally occurring heart disease (e.g., Doberman pinschers with dilated cardiomyopathy) referred to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. This relationship is schematically represented in Figure 1 to identify the participants in the cardiovascular science program and the central role of the Michael E. DeBakey Institute that was created in 1999 to formalize programmatic relationship between units. The Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Engineering have shared faculty and teaching responsibilities for more than 30 years, while the Colleges of Education and Medicine have become an integral part of the cardiovascular science program during the past 20 years. Basic science studies have progressed to the point where clinical implementation requires a strong relationship with both the human and veterinary clinical units. The veterinary clinical cardiovascular program is considered to be one of the top 2 programs in the US, and its faculty have developed preeminent programs for training veterinary cardiology residents, performing veterinary clinical trials to determine safety and efficacy of new cardiac therapeutics, and for performing interventional cardiac studies (e.g., coronary stents, pacemakers). The importance of using animals with naturally occurring disease is only recently begun to be recognized as a very powerful tool in the development and testing of new cardiovascular agents and TAMU is well positioned to become a world leader in this area.
The basic science cardiovascular science program has been extremely successful in attracting extramural funding to support its mission (approximately $60,000,000 over 8 years). The program is in the process of transitioning from an individual investigator- based program to one in which programmatic proposals (Program Project, Center Grant and Training Grant) provide overarching funding for new core facilities and additional graduate students. Additional faculty are needed to expand both the breadth and depth of faculty to fully qualify for program level funding. The cardiovascular sciences program has a proven track record which portends an excellent “return on investment” associated
with the addition of new faculty positions. This return, coupled with the reduction of death and disability from cardiovascular disease, provides the foundation of this request.