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New Cardiovascular Wellness and Preventive Research Center Opens

Michael Poon, MD, to lead research on new treatments for coronart artery disease, heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease

Poon deviceStony Brook University has opened a new Center for Cardiovascular Wellness and Preventive Research at Stony Brook Medicine to conduct groundbreaking research into cardiovascular health and to identify and develop new options for treatment and prevention of coronary artery disease, heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease.

The center was made possible as a result of several recent philanthropic gifts that were matched dollar for dollar by the Simons Foundation Challenge Grant, doubling their impact and totaling in excess of $7.5 million. Stony Brook Heart Institute’s Dr. Michael Poon, a professor of Emergency Medicine, Medicine (Cardiology), and Radiology, and Director of Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging at Stony Brook Medicine, is leading the new research center, located on the ninth floor of the Hospital.

A major gift of $3 million from an anonymous donor funded the establishment of the research center. A second major gift, from Stony Brook University alumni Eugene and Carol Cheng, purchased an EECP (Enhanced External Counter-Pulsation) device for the new research center. The center will study EECP – which uses cuff-like devices on the legs to increase blood flow to the heart by squeezing in sequence with the patient’s heartbeat – as a way to enhance the blood flow to the heart by developing collateral blood vessels and enhancing coronary blood flow and reserves.

The Chengs’ gift will also be used to establish the Carol and Eugene Cheng Cardiovascular Imaging Research Endowment at Stony Brook. A third major gift of $750,000, from Charles A. Gargano, former U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, will establish the Ambassador Charles Gargano Chair and Professorship  in Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

The center will focus primarily on studying the noninvasive diagnosis and treatment of endothelial dysfunction – a condition in which the endothelium (inner lining) of blood vessels does not function normally, resulting in a myriad of vascular diseases – and on the effect of EECP in preventing the onset and progression of cerebral, coronary and peripheral vascular diseases.

Endothelial dysfunction is a major cause of vascular disease, and EECP prevents progression of cardiovascular disease by improving endothelial function. Through Dr. Poon’s research, patients will be assessed every three to six months over a three-year period to assess the effect of EECP on endothelial function. Their quality of life will be assessed and the cost-effectiveness of their care will be analyzed.

Research being conducted at the center could ultimately benefit not only patients with or at risk of developing coronary artery disease, Dr. Poon said, but also heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease, which is primarily a vascular disorder, as the results are translated into new approaches to patient care. Hundreds of patients will benefit from receiving EECP as an FDA approved treatment during the course of research exploring alternative uses for the therapy. Additional exploratory research will examine the use of EECP in preventing muscle soreness and injury in elite athletes.

“The development of new programs and research in prevention and noninvasive treatments can help us achieve our goal of being a national leader in cardiovascular health through innovative solutions and more effective treatments for patients with heart disease,” Dr. Poon said.

“Stony Brook Medicine’s commitment to delivering excellent care is matched by our commitment to pioneering research to benefit our patients,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “We have some of the finest clinical and scientific minds in the world working collaboratively to understand cardiovascular disease and translate their discoveries into better treatments for all patients – not just at Stony Brook, but across the state, the nation and the world.”


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