Priming the Pump


An NIH-funded collaboration is kick-starting research on the No. 1 killer of humans

Across the city of Providence, an unlikely team of researchers is emerging. A developmental biologist with row upon row of tiny fish tanks in her lab. A geneticist who seeks to understand the building blocks of human life, and by extension, human disease. A cardiologist who spends hours poring over ultrasounds, looking for clues to cure his patients.

These doctors and scientists are just a few of the dozen researchers involved in Brown’s CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or CPVB COBRE for short. It’s a mouthful of a name, but one that’s fitting for its ambitious mission: to both study the root cause of diseases that affect the heart and lungs, and to find new cures.

That’s a tall order. Cardiopulmonary diseases ranging from asthma to arteriosclerosis remain the leading cause of death for American patients. They develop in a wide variety of ways, and have an equally broad range of treatments. But they often have a common connection: many cardiopulmonary diseases stem not just from problems in the heart or lungs, but in the blood vessels that support them. That’s where this group of researchers is focusing.

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