News | November 14, 2013

New Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging Aims to Detect and Treat Silent Heart Disease

Funded by a $20 million gift from the Dalio Foundation, the institute will combine research, clinical care, and education to uncover new answers about preventing heart disease

November 14, 2013 – To help reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease, the nation's leading killer, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College have created the Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging. Raymond T. Dalio, a life trustee of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, has made a gift of $20 million through his Dalio Foundation in support of the institute.

The Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging will employ a multidisciplinary, multimodality approach to the detection and treatment of heart disease, with a focus on finding new answers about prevention of heart disease in at-risk individuals and ultimately save lives. Its mission is to innovate, integrate and educate, goals that will be achieved through cutting-edge research, transformations of current clinical paradigms and dissemination of knowledge.  

James K. Min, an expert in cardiovascular imaging and a physician-scientist who has led several large-scale multicenter clinical trials, has been appointed director of the Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging. Min is an attending physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and a full-time faculty member in the Department of Radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College. He joins New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was director of cardiac imaging research and co-director of cardiac imaging.

Rooted in the central role of imaging techniques to better diagnose cardiovascular disease, the institute will not only use state-of-the-art tools such as MRI, CT and PET scanners, but will also focus on the development of novel next-generation technologies and diagnostic tests. Applying a team-based approach that draws on the expertise of physicians and scientists in radiology, cardiology, genetics, proteomics and computational biology, the institute's primary research initiative is to identify the "vulnerable plaque," or the specific coronary artery lesion that is responsible for a future heart attack or sudden cardiac death.

"The vulnerable plaque is the holy grail in the diagnostic work-up of individuals with suspected coronary artery disease, and its elusive nature has precluded the timely treatment of millions of high-risk individuals," says Min. "We will apply an array of innovative hardware and software imaging technologies to improve identification of the vulnerable plaque, and then seek to apply these findings in large-scale multicenter clinical trials and registries to encourage full integration of our research findings into clinical practice."

To develop the world-class clinical program to diagnose early cardiovascular disease, the Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging will use state-of-the-art imaging technologies in conjunction with other cutting-edge diagnostic tests, including blood markers of inflammation, protein expression and metabolism. The clinical program will serve patients in the outpatient and inpatient setting, as well as in the emergency department. Three specific initiatives within the clinical program will emphasize early identification of heart disease in women, ethnic minorities and young patients with a family history of premature heart disease.

The institute's educational mission will focus on disseminating knowledge of the latest advances in cardiovascular imaging through the education of physicians, physician trainees and allied health professionals through formal didactic curricula and symposia.

"More than half of people who die from sudden heart attacks never knew they were at risk because their underlying heart conditions had never been diagnosed," said Min. "Many heart attacks can be prevented if people know of the extent and severity of their asymptomatic heart disease and are properly treated. By bringing together a multidisciplinary group of experts, the Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging will not just offer the latest imaging techniques for early detection, but will also develop disruptive technologies to fight the battle against heart disease. Ultimately, these pioneering methods aim to challenge current clinical paradigms in order to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with cardiovascular disease."

"Establishing the Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging is an incredibly significant milestone in our fight against heart disease," says Steven J. Corwin, CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and a cardiologist by training. "While modern medicine offers highly sophisticated tools for treating heart disease, we still have a long way to go in terms of identifying high-risk individuals with early-stage disease so that we can prevent catastrophic outcomes and save lives. Dr. Min's unique background, expertise and clinical research experience make him ideally suited to lead the institute and its groundbreaking initiatives. We are thrilled that Dr. Min has joined us, and we are extraordinarily grateful to Ray Dalio for his vision and generous support."    

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