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NIHR-British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Partnership

The NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership provides a platform for collaboration between researchers funded by NIHR and the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The ultimate goal of this academic-led initiative is to catalyse progress in cardiovascular research and translate scientific discoveries into benefits for people affected by heart and circulatory diseases.

For further information about the NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership and to find out how to work with us, please contact nocri@nihr.ac.uk

British Heart FoundationThe Partnership connects world-leading research expertise and infrastructure funded by NIHR and BHF, located in the major universities and NHS Trusts across the UK. The Partnership aims to:

  • Identify research priorities;
    This will help NIHR and BHF funded research centres to deliver world-leading cardiovascular research.
  • Provide a collaborative framework for NIHR and BHF cardiovascular translational researchers;
    This is to leverage funding, facilitate delivery and maximise the impact of projects.
  • Create opportunities for alignment;
    Between NIHR and BHF, and for collaborations with industry and other stakeholders.

Work with us

Whatever your background, working with the Partnership enables you to engage with cardiovascular experts from across the UK. The Partnership can help you if you are interested in cardiovascular science and have ideas for research collaborations. This is because we have the knowledge and experience needed to get large-scale collaborative programmes off the ground. We help develop ideas from a very early stage through to a mature project suitable for a funding application.

Our cardiovascular researchers from NIHR and BHF funded centres are also interested in joining efforts with colleagues from other disciplines. For example, the Partnership has been working to establish a UK-wide network of cardiologists and rheumatologists who will work together to address unmet research and clinical needs at the intersection between cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. Find out more in the Our Projects tab.

We are keen to explore collaborations with experts based within and outside the UK, as well as the life science industry, charities, patient groups and other stakeholders. The Partnership is open to work with you on the design, development and delivery of early phase exploratory clinical studies.


The NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership offers the following benefits to its collaborators:

  • Flexibility: The possibility to address several focus areas simultaneously, across a spectrum of priorities.
  • Agility: We can quickly mobilise the community in response to arising priorities and urgent requests.
  • Inclusivity: All researchers are welcome to bring their ideas into the Partnership.
  • Traction: Support for the necessary groundwork needed to transform ideas into research plans.
  • High impact: The collaborative programmes developed by the Partnership allow our community of experts to tackle research questions that require scale.

For further information about the NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership and to find out how to work with us, please contact nocri@nihr.ac.uk 

Our Experts

The NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership is chaired by Professor Keith Channon, who directed the Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for 10 years and is the BHF Field Marshal Earl Alexander Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Oxford.


A map showing the breadth of expertise in cardiovascular health in the UK

The map below demonstrates some of the key NIHR and BHF centres based across the UK which are part of this Partnership (listed below). 

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and Academic Leads

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities and Academic Leads

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Centres

The Partnership also includes expertise from BHF centres.

  • Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Oxford:
    BHF Professors and Centre of Research Excellence
  • Leeds and Southampton:
    BHF Professors
  • Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester and Manchester:
    BHF Professors and Accelerator
  • London:
    BHF Professors, Queen Mary University of London and University College London BHF Accelerators, and King's College London and Imperial College London BHF Centres of Research Excellence. 

For further information about the NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership and to find out how to work with us, please contact nocri@nihr.ac.uk 

Our Projects

The NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership is currently developing a number of UK-wide collaborative research programmes in several areas of cardiovascular research and medicine. These collaborative programmes result in a variety of benefits, as illustrated by the case studies below.

Benefits of UK-wide collaborative research programmes:

  • Faster translation of scientific discoveries into benefits for patients
  • Increased capacity to support early phase clinical research delivery
  • Increased scope and capacity for high-quality research in an identified area of focus or unmet need
  • Increased operational efficiency for delivery of collaborative, experimental medicine research
  • Multi-centre research enabled through agreed processes and ways of working
  • Improved interactions with external stakeholders such as industry, patient groups and charities
  • Opportunities to create strategic alignment between the NIHR, BHF, and other key partners for further cardiovascular research.

Cardiovascular Disease in Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases (IMID):

Though cardiovascular disease is common in patients with IMID, there are a number of unmet needs which can be addressed with an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore, we are establishing a UK-wide network of cardiologists and rheumatologists who will work together to:

  1. Improve early detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in patients with IMID
  2. Generate evidence to inform treatment decisions
  3. Include cardiovascular assessments in IMID trials
  4. Perform studies in larger cohorts.

This network is taking shape as the “Cardio-IMID UK Network”, with experts from 23 centres across the UK.

Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction:

Nearly half of all patients who present to hospital with angina do not have evident obstructive coronary disease so they are often dismissed. Yet, many are at risk of cardiac events. These patients have what is known as Angina with Non obstructive Coronary Artery disease (ANOCA). This classification encompasses a heterogeneous group of conditions including microvascular dysfunction, coronary vasospasm, endothelial dysfunction and non-cardiac chest pain.

The failure to distinguish pathophysiological differences within ANOCA patients has been one of the main reasons for patient dissatisfaction. This has also hampered development of therapeutic strategies and led to a significant healthcare burden.

Recent developments in invasive and non-invasive techniques have allowed assessment of microvascular function in these patients, but these protocols are largely confined to research studies and are infrequently used in clinical practice. We have established a research programme to harmonise these procedures in centres across the UK and facilitate their adoption in clinical practise. Find out more about the NIHR-BHF Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction Workstream.


Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF):

HFpEF represents a significant healthcare burden. Rather than being a distinct diagnosis, it has become clear that HFpEF represents a heterogeneous syndrome involving a range of disease mechanisms. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that has been employed to date has not identified a therapy with clinical benefit. We are developing a collaborative programme to establish a large, deeply phenotyped cohort that will be a platform for collaborative clinical and translational HFpEF research, in order to:

  1. Reclassify HFpEF into distinct diagnoses based on disease mechanisms, clinical factors and outcome.
  2. Evaluate whether patients in the distinct groups respond differentially to treatments, with the aim of predicting individual patient treatment response.
  3. Create a platform for clinical trials that matches the mechanism of action of new, repurposed or previously discarded therapies, with HFpEF subtype/anticipated treatment response, and which has groups of patients readily available for recruitment to subsequent RCTs, with linkage in place for follow-up.
  4. Create a platform for identifying phenotypic and genetic factors that could be used as the basis for developing diagnostics, improving risk stratification and improving understanding of the causes of HFpEF.

Covid-19 Research Framework:

Working closely with the British Heart Foundation and the BHF Clinical Research Collaborative, we set up a Covid-19 Research Framework to identify and prioritise research projects tackling key questions on Covid-19 and cardiovascular health, in particular:

  1. Why are individuals with cardiovascular disease at higher risk of Covid-19 with severe outcomes?
  2. How does Covid-19 affects the cardiovascular system acutely and in the long term?
  3. What is the acute and long term impact of the pandemic on routine care of patients with cardiovascular disease?

Through this framework we have identified seven Covid-19 Cardiovascular Disease Flagship Projects, which will help answer these important questions. These  Flagship Projects featured at the BHF Annual Conference 2021, information about the event and a recording can be found on the BHF website

Our experts lead the Cardiovascular Working Group within the PHOSP Consortium to help maintain alignment and avoid duplication of efforts between studies focused on Covid-19 and cardiovascular disease. The working group also develops new projects based on emerging evidence from the PHOSP Consortium, the Covid-19 Cardiovascular Disease Flagship Projects and other studies.

Other Highlights from the Partnership

Other recent highlights from the partnerships can be found on the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre website

For further information about these initiatives, or to get involved with the Cardiovascular Partnership’s research, please contact nocri@nihr.ac.uk 

Latest news about the Cardiovascular Partnership

 

Further news and events can be found on the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre website

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