UT Southwestern heart research aided by $11.9 million from Donald W. Reynolds Foundation

Helen Hobbs, MD

DALLAS — Sept. 5, 2006 — The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has provided a grant of $11.9 million to UT Southwestern Medical Center that will allow researchers to continue the Dallas Heart Study, a groundbreaking investigation of cardiovascular disease that involves thousands of Dallas County residents.

The foundation's three-year grant to the Donald W. Reynolds Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at UT Southwestern supplements previous foundation grants awarded to the institution totaling $42 million and brings total Reynolds Foundation support for UT Southwestern to nearly $54 million.

The foundation's initial grant created the Reynolds Center in 1999.

The additional three years of funding will allow UT Southwestern researchers to continue their investigation into factors that contribute to heart disease in a large multiethnic group of individuals from Dallas County, said Dr. Helen Hobbs, director of the Reynolds Center.

As part of the Dallas Heart Study, investigators have obtained detailed medical histories from more than 6,000 Dallas residents; more than half of the participants provided blood samples and underwent multiple imaging studies to examine the heart. Dr. Hobbs and her colleagues have used this information to identify new drug targets for the prevention and treatment of heart disease. 

"In the next three years, we will transform the Dallas Heart Study from a cross-sectional study into a longitudinal one," Dr. Hobbs said. "We will re-examine every participant to determine if they have developed new risk factors for heart disease and will use state-of-the-art noninvasive imaging tests to determine if the health of the heart has changed over the seven-year interval since the last exam."

The goal of the project is to use the extensive medical data to develop individualized "prescriptions for prevention," said Dr. Hobbs, an investigator in UT Southwestern's Howard Hughes Medical Institute who also directs the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development.

"We will use all this information to improve our ability to identify the subjects who are at greatest risk for the development of heart disease so that we can intervene before any damage to the heart occurs," she said. "Our ultimate goal is to reduce death and disability from heart disease in the population we serve. We could not do our research if it were not for the generous and continued support from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which is committed to making real, palpable improvements in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease."

The new funding will also continue to support Dr. Hobbs' research on genetic factors affecting heart disease risk, as well as molecular research aimed at preventing and treating harmful enlargement of the heart, an effort led by Dr. Eric Olson, chairman of molecular biology and director of the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Basic Research in Cancer and the Nearburg Family Center for Basic Research in Pediatric Oncology.

Another project is aimed at discovering whether stem cells from adult heart or bone marrow can repair an injured heart. That study is led by Dr. Daniel Garry, associate professor of internal medicine and molecular biology.

As part of the Reynolds Center program, UT Southwestern researchers are collaborating on projects with investigators at the UT Health Science Center at Houston as well as researchers at the two other Reynolds cardiovascular clinical research centers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Mr. Reynolds was the founder and principal owner of the Donrey Media Group. When he died in 1993, the company included more than 70 businesses, the majority of which were in the communications/media field. The sale of Donrey Media Group in 1993 provided for the foundation's endowment. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it is one of the 50 largest private foundations in the United States.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/heartlungvascular to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in heart, lung and vascular.


Media Contact: Amanda Siegfried

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