University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Heart Disease Research at University of North Carolina Hospitals

— -- Hello. My name is Cam Patterson. I'm the chief of cardiology at UNC Chapel Hill and the director of the Carolina Cardiovascular Biological Center. We have a very broad research portfolio in cardiovascular diseases here at UNC that range from epidemiologic studies in collaboration with our school of public health to basic research studies going on in our cardiovascular research center to clinically-oriented studies going on here in the hospital.

One of the studies that I'm particularly excited about is the SMAR study. SMAR stands for supporting a multidisciplinary approach to research in atherosclerosis. And it's a study that combines gene expression profiling, genetics, proteomics, and metabolomics to help us find a better understanding of the causes and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

For example, we found in the SMAR study that smokers -- who are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease -- have changes in proteins that are involved in how white blood cells divide. And we think that these circulating white blood cells may contribute to the increased risk of heart disease that we find in people who smoke.

In addition we found that in some African-Americans who had increased risks for heart disease, they have changes in proteins that are involved in breaking down sugars. And we think that these pathways may account for why some African-Americans are at a particular high risk for cardiovascular disease.

We think that through observations like these that we derive from the SMAR study that we'll be in the position to find new insights into the causes of cardiovascular disease and potentially also find better ways to treat cardiovascular disease -- the No. 1 cause of morbidity and mortality in our society.