News | January 06, 2011

Heart Rhythm Society Identifies Challenges in Electrophysiology

January 6, 2011 – The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) recently hosted its inaugural two-day research forum to identify opportunities and challenges to advancing research in electrophysiology (EP).

The forum connected more than 70 key individuals in the health care field, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), multiple medical institutes and hospitals, non-profit associations, and pharmaceutical and biomedical corporations. The forum participants focused on identifying opportunities for collaboration, challenges to advancing research, and gaps in the public’s awareness of research development. Several sessions focused on involving affected patients and their families.

According to statistics presented by Research!America, 76 percent of Americans surveyed say they are very likely or somewhat likely to volunteer for clinical research. However, only six percent of these respondents have been approached by their physician to participate in a clinical research study. Advocacy was also viewed as a critical component of the research group.

“The presentations at the forum relayed with clarity and specificity that the Society and the larger research community must begin grassroots efforts to educate the public about the need for basic and clinical research of heart rhythm disorders,” said Douglas L. Packer, M.D., FHRS, president of the Heart Rhythm Society. “We must make sure that physicians are informed about the opportunities available to their patients that arise out of past and ongoing research.”

Leading experts discussed ways to overcome barriers to innovation and implementation, and the need for HRS to lead efforts to promote research of heart rhythm disorders. Keynote speakers included Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who discussed “Exceptional Opportunities in Biomedical Research” and Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, who identified “Opportunities & Challenges for Embracing a Research Future.”

The forum also featured presentations from Michael S. Lauer, M.D., director, division of prevention and population sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and Bram D. Zuckerman, director of cardiovascular devices at the FDA who identified potential ways to overcoming barriers to innovation and implementation of research projects.

“This was a very broad-based, but elite group of investigators who came together to overcome the economic and scientific impediments to research,” Packer said.

During day two of the forum, attendees were challenged with identifying ways HRS and the research community at large could best move electrophysiology forward with initiation, including:

• Public Education on Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Atrial Fibrillation
• Collaboration with Other Medical Societies and Industry
• Clinicians and Clinical Trials Benchmarking
• Advancing Research Careers
• Supporting and Funding Research

In addition, the working groups agreed that individuals must be reached earlier in life about the importance of research and opportunities available to develop careers in research. Also, they should be informed of the need for increased funding for the field from the public and private sectors.

“We have a renewed commitment to develop and promote basic and clinical trials, provide funding options for investigators to develop new therapies, and educate the public about why research is the cornerstone of our treatment options for patients,” Packer said. “We look forward to collaborating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health in this area and remain confident that our work will bring us closer to ending the pain and suffering of individuals living with heart rhythm disorders.”

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