Columbia is one of a few institutions in the United States that maintains Arteriosclerosis Specialized Programs of Research programs supported program project grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The Columbia program comprises a multidisciplinary program of laboratory and clinical research dealing with aspects of the pathophysiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The program has two major integrating research themes: the study of the metabolism of plasma lipoproteins and apolipoproteins in relation to atherosclerosis; and the investigation of atherogenesis and the cell biology of the arterial wall.
The program includes several core resource facilities that are available to all participants in its program. These include the core lipid research clinic; core lipid and lipoprotein laboratory; core biomathematics and biostatistics resource facility; core tissue culture laboratory; and molecular biology core laboratory. These core laboratories and resources are available for specialized training of students participating in programs of the Institute of Human Nutrition.
Over the last decade, Columbia University Medical Center has emerged as a leading research center for cardiovascular research, especially in areas such as atherosclerosis, lipoproteins, coronary artery restenosis, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart failure. The state-of-the-art Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, established in 1997, provided further opportunities for collaborations in the cardiovascular complications of diabetes and obesity. In 2004, CUMC recruited a major interventional cardiology group (now known as CIVT) to carry out research on devices and treatments of coronary artery disease. And just this year we announced a new patient care facility that will greatly increase our clinical capacity and enable a tremendous volume of new translational research. As a complement to these efforts, we continue to recruit talented junior researchers in cardiology, vascular biology, and membrane physiology.
Building on this momentum, we have established the Cardiovascular Research Initiative (CVRI) at Columbia University Medical Center. This initiative is an integral component of Dean Goldman’s vision to be indisputably in the top five and arguably #1 in the area of cardiovascular medicine, a goal that is close at hand now that we are ranked #6 in the nation. The CVRI will serve as the intellectual home for our expanding initiatives in cardiovascular research that will be both basic and translational in nature. It will allow Columbia to enhance existing programs while recruiting and retaining the best scientists in the field. It will also, in very practical ways, lead to better therapies and cures for human diseases, from atherosclerosis and high blood pressure to arrhythmias and heart failure.
Drawing from experience of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research and extensive community input, the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) program creates a definable academic home for clinical and translational research. CTSA institutions work to transform the local, regional, and national environment to increase the efficiency and speed of clinical and translational research across the country. This consortium includes 55 medical research institutions located throughout the nation. When fully implemented by 2011, about 60 institutions will be linked together to energize the discipline of clinical and translational science. The CTSA consortium is funded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Multiple avenues of research are being explored in the recently enlarged and strengthened Cancer Center. These research avenues fall into the broad categories of laboratory, clinical (diagnostic, therapeutic), population-based, and preventive investigation. Faculty members of the Cancer Center are distributed throughout virtually all departments, centers, and institutes at Columbia Health Sciences. Their aggregate research funding now stands at millions per year. Of particular relevance to students of nutrition is the estimate that 40 to 70 percent of all cancers are linked in some way to nutrition.
The Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies brings together investigators working in birth cohort research programs. Imprints Center investigators focus especially, but not exclusively, on the ways in which exposures in utero – such as prenatal exposures to infections, nutritional deficiencies and toxins – influence health later in the lifecourse, including the interplay with genes and epigenetic effects. They are examining a range of health outcomes, derived from studies in China, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, Norway, Finland, Kosovo, the United Kingdom, and the US. More recently, Imprints investigators are engaged in intergenerational studies and a lifecourse approach to aging. Details about these studies can be found on the website http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/imprints/.
The Imprints Center provides a valuable setting for intellectual exchange, supporting methodologic strategies, identifying new research opportunities, and training interested colleagues and students. One of the vehicles for accomplishing these goals is our series of educational seminars and workshops. The Imprints Center also provides essential feedback and support for its investigators in areas such as preparation of grant applications, strategies for multi-site study data coordination and management, and development of innovative methods for analysis in pertinent areas, such as growth trajectories and modeling.
The Irving Center for Clinical Research (ICCR), including the NIH-funded General Clinical Research Center, has excellent facilities and services to support clinical research. Faculty members from Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and investigators from the New York State Psychiatric Institute conduct multidisciplinary investigations of human disease and clinical pharmacology. Major foci of research relate to areas such as cancer, lipids and lipoprotein metabolism, obesity, neurology (Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, neonatal brain damage), cardiovascular disease, endocrine disorders (hyperparathyroidism, diabetes mellitus), and psychiatric conditions (substance abuse, depression, schizophrenia). In addition, the center serves research protocols in many other areas. The ICCR fosters training of young clinical investigators through seminar series, courses and mentoring.
ICCR facilities occupy more than 30,000 square feet of space on adjacent floors in Medical Center buildings. An Adult Inpatient Unit has 16 private rooms. The separate Outpatient Unit has five rooms for interviews, examination, and treatment. There are separate pediatric inpatient and outpatient units. A core laboratory performs specialized research assays of all kinds. A data management unit assists investigators in the design of experiments and the analysis of the resulting data and advises on data management issues. The Nutrition Unit collaborates in the design and analysis of research protocols, provides nutritional counseling, and prepares nutrient-controlled meals for study diets.
The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia Presbyterian was opened in October 1998. The Center offers state-of-the-art multidisciplinary clinical care for the patient with diabetes mellitus. Comprehensive services are offered for patients of all ages and with all types of diabetes. Care is coordinated by pediatric and adult endocrinologists, assisted by nurse educators, nutritionists, family therapists, opthalmologists, exercise specialists, surgeons, and podiatrists.
The Center also includes basic and clinical research activities conducted within the Centers 5,000 square feet of research space adjacent to the clinical facilities, and in laboratories of investigators affiliated with the Center. Areas of investigation include metabolic homeostasis in human obesity, molecular genetics of obesity and diabetes in rodents and humans, molecular physiology of insulin resistance, molecular biochemistry of glycosylation in diabetes complications, immunology of islet transplantation, and dyslipidemias related to diabetes mellitus.
The Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's–Roosevelt Medical Center is designed to provide both the leadership and the administrative matrix for fostering productive cooperation among participating investigators. The main thrust of investigation at the Center is the study of the relationship between food intake regulation and adipose tissue, the calorie storage depot. Studies range from the morphology and biochemistry of the adipocyte to the psychological and social aspects of food intake, and from the earliest development of adipocytes to the late, adult consequences of obesity. In all instances, the studies are devoted to further the understanding of fundamental biology of calorie intake and storage, and the principal calorie disorder in humans, obesity.
A major contribution of the Obesity Research Center is the training of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical investigators in subject areas pertinent to obesity.