Dallas Heart Study

In 1999 UT Southwestern Medical Center was awarded the first Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center in a competitive process involving the top academic medical centers in the U.S.

The centerpiece of this Research Center is the Dallas Heart Study (DHS), a multiethnic population-based study of 6,101 adults from Dallas County. Drs. Ronald Victor and Helen Hobbs designed the study.

The study design combines the best features of laboratory and population-based research, and aims to:

  • Identify new genetic, protein, and imaging biomarkers that can detect cardiovascular disease at its earliest stages, when prevention is most effective.
  • Identify social, behavioral, and environmental factors contributing to cardiovascular risk in our community, leading to improved community-based interventions.
  • Enhance our understanding of the biological basis of cardiovascular disease.

Participants filled out a detailed health questionnaire including information on health beliefs and behaviors, donated blood and urine specimens for genetic and biomarker studies, and underwent extensive imaging studies of the heart, blood vessels, brain, bones, adipose tissue, and liver. 

Participants from the original Dallas Heart Study recently returned to UT Southwestern for a second detailed study visit. Information collected from this visit will allow investigators to study in great depth factors that contribute to the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. The DHS participants continue to be followed for the development of cardiovascular and metabolic disease through annual surveys and collaboration with hospitals in the DFW metroplex.

Since the Dallas Heart Study's inception, laboratory and clinical investigators have worked together to take observations into the laboratory, and to take discoveries made in the laboratory to the general population, thus enhancing the translation of discoveries into new therapies.

James de Lemos, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, calls the DHS, “one of the most significant medical events of the past decade in the DFW Metroplex, and perhaps the most far-reaching.”

“The early results of this study are transforming cardiovascular risk factor identification and management ... and leading to better prevention of heart disease for individuals in the Metroplex and beyond," he said. 

Opportunity for Research and Collaboration

“The DHS provides a resource for the greater scientific community, and especially the UT Southwestern faculty and research trainees,” Dr. Hobbs says. Interested investigators need to write a short proposal that summarizes the hypothesis to be tested and the data requested.