UC Irvine’s growing Division of Cardiology is engaged in a broad spectrum of robust research programs ranging from basic bench science and translational investigations to clinical trials, alternative therapies, epidemiological studies and health policy.
These studies are conducted with significant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and grants from industry. The ultimate goal of our research efforts is to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease for the people of Orange County and beyond.
Our research programs can be grouped into these general categories:
Dr. John Longhurst’s laboratory conducts groundbreaking research describing the neurologic control of cardiac function. This laboratory, which is heavily funded by the NIH and other national organizations, is one of the rare facilities that scientifically and systematically investigates the role of acupuncture and other alternative medical strategies in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
Dr. Shaista Malik studies health policy, epidemiology and quality of care issues involving patients with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. She has been a co-investigator on a multi-center grant examining the quality of care given to diabetic patients in managed care organizations. She also has studied the implications of subclinical disease in diabetics, using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) to determine the link between coronary calcium scores and future cardiovascular events. Her current interest is the early identification of those at the highest risk for developing cardiovascular disease using non-invasive cardiovascular imaging and developing prevention strategies. Her federally funded research is focused on the use of cardiovascular imaging to modify patient behavior and behavioral interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease.
UC Irvine’s Heart Disease Prevention Program under Nathan Wong, Ph.D., has contributed significantly to epidemiological studies of metabolic syndrome, hypertension and dyslipidemia, as well as subclinical atherosclerosis evaluated by vascular calcification. It has been involved in multiple national multicenter clinical trials and longitudinal studies of cardiovascular disease, including the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA), Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC), Antihypertensive Lipid-Lowering to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT) and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).
Wong's laboratory continues to evaluate new risk factors with coronary calcium in several NIH-sponsored population studies. Other projects involve studying the epidemiology of metabolic syndrome using various population databases and a trial examining the role of statins in lowering CRP levels in people with normal cholesterol levels. Another trial aims to study statins’ effectiveness in lowering lipids and cardiometabolic risk.
Areas of interest include:
The engineering expertise applied to these areas includes Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), nanotechnology, biophotonics, biomaterials, systems biology and computation/modeling.