For all media inquiries, please call Marketing and Communications at 501.912.6929

CHI St. Vincent, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Penn Medicine Team up to Accelerate Heart Surgery Research

Collaboration is part of National Institutes of Health-funded effort to study innovative new approaches, technologies in cardiothoracic surgery

CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute team leading the collaboration with Penn Medicine

Today, the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute announced a collaboration with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Penn Medicine to accelerate high-priority clinical research efforts related to heart surgery and implement novel approaches into surgical practice.


The seven-year initiative, which is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is part of the Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network (CTSN) Linked Clinical Research Centers project. Under the program, five institutions nationwide with extensive experience conducting cardiothoracic surgery research are linked with a qualified institution with little clinical research experience located in an underserved area with a high prevalence of cardiac disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes. Arkansas has the third highest mortality rate from heart disease in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


“We’re honored by this opportunity to collaborate on the forefront of clinical research and help establish a new platform for the next generation of clinical and implementation researchers so geography no longer limits access to the latest best practices in the field,” said CHI St. Vincent CEO Chad Aduddell. “The ultimate value, though, benefits our patients in Central Arkansas who will experience advanced care and unique access to clinical trials on the forefront of the healthcare industry for the treatment of heart disease and related illnesses.”


Heart disease – which is responsible for about one in four deaths – is the leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly half of U.S. adults have some sort of heart or blood vessel disease, according to American Heart Association. Cardiothoracic surgical procedures play a critical role in addressing some of the most prominent conditions, including coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation and valvular heart disease, and help to extend survival and improve quality of life. While the rapid pace of innovation in this field has led to the use of new approaches and technologies, the clinical research efforts needed to validate the approaches continue to lag behind due, in part, to the challenges of enrolling patients in clinical trials. 


As a part of the initiative, teams at CHI St. Vincent and Penn Medicine will conduct CTSN clinical research studies that evaluate novel products, cardiac surgical interventions and cardiovascular medicine practices in areas deemed as high-priority by the CTSN, including valvular heart disease and circulatory assist devices and cardiac regeneration. Nimesh Desai, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Surgery at Penn Medicine, established and developed the Clinical and Implementation Research Skills Program (CIRSP), a platform that extends across both institutions to help educate junior faculty on how to translate the latest in clinical research and innovation into best surgical practice.


“Historically, cardiac surgery clinical trials have been extremely difficult to conduct,” said Michael Acker, MD, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery, and primary grant investigator at Penn Medicine. “However, with the support of the NHLBI and CTSN, our team at Penn Medicine has been able to complete studies that spurred change in surgical best practices. Through this collaboration, we have a unique opportunity to share best practices in cardiac surgical research and help develop sustainable models that lead to improvements in patient access and outcomes across this region.”


Penn Medicine has remained a core clinical research site since the NIH launched the grant in 2007 to support the CTSN. As a part of this new project, CHI St. Vincent was chosen as a linked site by Penn Medicine because of its significant healthcare resources and expertise available through the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute, along with additional support from other CHI St. Vincent associated facilities. As part of the Penn Medicine mentoring plan, the CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute clinical research team visit Penn Medicine in August 2019 for intense research training.