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Queen Mary launches William Harvey Heart Centre

The William Harvey Heart Centre, dedicated to tackling the growing burden of heart disease and stroke world-wide opens today at Queen Mary, University of London.

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The William Harvey Heart Centre
The William Harvey Heart Centre

The new Heart Centre – based at Queen Mary’s Charterhouse Square campus - represents a significant £25m investment and will provide a flow of innovative new therapies from the laboratory to the patient suffering from heart disease across north-east London and beyond. The Centre is unique in its ability to encompass laboratory work with patient engagement through its internal Clinical Trials Unit which can call upon a broad range of clinical experts from Queen Mary, University of London and Barts and The London NHS Trust to run clinical studies in multiple therapeutic areas specialising in but not limited to: cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrinology, addiction and rheumatology.  The Heart Centre forms part of Barts and The London Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit and is specifically designed to provide the cardiovascular research hub for the £312m rebuild of St Bartholomew’s Hospital which will open in 2014.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death world-wide, causing 17 million deaths per annum, and there remains serious unmet need for new therapies. The distinctive approach of the William Harvey Heart Centre will be to combine new basic science strengths in pharmacology with study of how genes raise blood pressure and how disorders of heart rhythm are triggered, alongside high calibre stem cell biology and biomarkers research so generating novel approaches to these common causes of premature death and disability. Set alongside the unique diversity of the east London community the William Harvey Heart Centre offers the potential for discoveries made here to have impact upon the growing global burden of cardiovascular disease.

Professor Mark Caulfield, Director of the William Harvey Research Institute, said: “Our ethnically diverse east London community suffer appalling rates of heart disease, possibly due to undiscovered risk factors that may offer the basis for new treatments – we are therefore uniquely placed to act as a research window for these communities from emergent nations across the world. Our strategic focus on translational therapeutic innovation will ensure that the William Harvey Heart Centre competes with the best in the world, addressing areas of important unmet need with global healthcare implications.”

Recent findings of major impact which will be further developed within the William Harvey Heart Centre include demonstrating (in separate work) that beetroot juice and reducing nerve impulses from the kidney to the brain lowers blood pressure. Research conducted by scientists at the William Harvey Research Institute on stem cell therapies for heart attack and heart failure has recently won 11m Euros toward multicentre trials in patients across Europe.

The Heart Centre benefits from one of the largest translational Clinical Research Centres in the UK which will work with public funders and industry (Quintiles, the National Institute of Health Research, and the Higher Education Funding Council) serving as the point of connection between laboratory bench and the east London community.  The terrible disease burden experienced locally means the Centre is ideally located to take new therapies into humans. David Collier, clinical trials physician said; “We have undertaken trials that have changed international practice and demonstrate strong community engagement.  At the William Harvey Heart Centre our partnership with 120 General Practices serving 500,000 people allows us to translate concepts from the laboratory into the clinic within the same building.”

Quintiles Chairman and CEO Dr Dennis Gillings Ph.D. CBE said: “The UK has a proud tradition of discovering and developing medical breakthroughs that save and improve lives.  Today, the clinical research landscape, is challenging with increased expectations of the biopharma industry. Quintiles’ investment here at Queen Mary, University of London demonstrates our real commitment to advancing medical knowledge in the UK and helping customers and patients navigate 'the New Health' environment in key areas of global disease burden.”

Quintiles will open a new European Headquarters in Green Park, Reading this year.  In 2010 it opened an expanded Phase I research facility at Guy’s Hospital London, and in 2009 it opened an 80,000 square foot central laboratory and office facility in Edinburgh.


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