The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) was recently awarded funding from the American Heart Association (AHA) for a grant that aims to uncover why Black and African American women are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular complications after breast cancer, and what medical providers can do to affect, predict, and prevent vascular damage.
“We don’t know what factors contribute to higher rates of heart disease among some populations of people versus others,” said Andreas Beyer, PhD, associate professor of cardiology, MCW. “So, we’re committed to doing the research and taking actions to close this gap and improve survivorship for all.”
The research will be led by MCW’s David Gutterman, MD, distinguished professor of cardiovascular sciences and Cardiovascular Center senior associate director, and Melinda Stolley, PhD, Ann E. Heil professor in cancer research and Cancer Center associate director. The transdisciplinary team is supported by additional researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago and brings together experts in population science, basic science, and clinical studies around a single area of research focus – cardio-oncology.
The team will study the effect of cancer treatment on blood vessels and measure whether engaging in moderate physical activity and strength training can minimize or prevent vascular damage.
“We know exercise can improve cardiovascular fitness and quality of life among cancer patients undergoing treatments,” Stolley said. “However, most studies have predominately white patient samples and are not focused on assessing outcomes for women of color. Additionally, many of these same studies do not include long-term follow-up on patient response or look at the physiological pathways that link exercise to cardiovascular outcomes.”
What makes the research program increasingly unique is the inclusion of a training program that offers a collaborative research experience – with the community – to enable the next generation of researchers and physicians to prevent ongoing health disparities.
“The synergistic nature of this work will help propel science forward, stretch how we think about cancer disparities and enable us to make faster progress toward new discoveries,” Gutterman said. “Ultimately, it’s about advancing what we know to provide the best patient care possible.”
About the Medical College of Wisconsin
With a history dating back to 1893, The Medical College of Wisconsin is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and community engagement. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in MCW’s medical school and graduate school programs in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Central Wisconsin in. MCW’s School of Pharmacy opened in 2017. A major national research center, MCW is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In the last ten years, faculty received more than $1.5 billion in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, MCW faculty direct or collaborate on more than 3,100 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,600 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 2.8 million patients annually.