ICAMS £3m BHF Centre of Research Excellence Award has kicked off

ICAMS £3m BHF Centre of Research Excellence Award has kicked off

Issued: Thu, 03 Jul 2014 14:56:00 BST

What is the BHF Excellence Award?

Since 2008, the British Heart Foundation has been investing in centres of excellence, which gather leading scientists together who conduct ground-breaking research projects with the aim of conquering heart disease. The main objectives of the centres of excellence are:

  • To jump-start innovative research projects and support inspirational ideas
  • To seek out and train the very best young doctors and scientists to become the next generation of heart researchers
  • To foster pioneering research partnerships between heart scientists and other specialists, such as engineers and mathematicians, to gain brand new insight and ideas to tackle heart disease.

Excellence Award for Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences (ICAMS)

In 2012, with further investment from the BHF, the scheme was renewed and a second call was put out for proposals. Of the 14 applications submitted to the BHF, 6 awards were given with Glasgow joining Oxford, Cambridge, Kings, Imperial and Edinburgh as the successful awardees.

ICAMs was awarded a £3M research grant for 5 years. In itself the BHF Excellence Award represents an outstanding achievement, which recognises the calibre of expertise in pioneering cardiovascular research here at the Insitute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences.

The award was initiated in April 2014 and is now ramping up towards full implementation.

Scientific Strategy and Plan

The overall scientific strategy of the Excellence Award at ICAMS focuses on vascular dysfunction as a root cause of cardiovascular (CV) disease (CVD). The award is known as the ‘BHF Centre for Excellence in Vascular Science and Medicine’.By combining cell-based systems, experimental models, patient cohorts, datasets and biobanks, with a focus on dissecting the intrinsic disease axes at the vascular level, research in the Centre of Excellence will lead to new mechanistic insights and approaches in predicting, diagnosing and treating CVD and target-organ damage. Elucidating mechanism-based therapeutic targets together with vascular phenotyping will provide a diagnostic/therapeutic platform for individualised risk stratification for personalised treatment, the future of medicine. Findings will be translated into measurable outcomes through our translational programme, first-in-man trials and renowned clinical trials expertise. 

Scientific frameworks

The strategy for the science undertaken in the Centre of Excellence includes 5 integrated frameworks as shown in the figure.

Research Axes

Under the umbrella of the strategic priority, there are 3 research axes:

  1. Immune dysregulation in vascular disease
  2. Redox biology of small vessel disease 
  3. Early onset vascular disease and socioeconomic status


A priority of the ICAMS award is the creation of 2 new fully funded training programmes:

  1. PhD in vascular biomedicine for clinicians (3-year PhD)
  2. Primer in vascular medicine for basic scientists (4-6 month clinical rotation/observership for post-doctoral fellows)

New resources for ICAMS researchers - Core facilities

The award provides opportunities for the creation of 3 Core facilities in ICAMS by supporting highly skilled personnel to run these facilities. Research Cores will make available services of excellence to all our researchers in ICAMS. Shared interdisciplinary Core facilities will provide cutting-edge technology, protocols and expertise, crucial to the promotion of science. In addition, these Cores will constitute a major training resource and also provide opportunities for new research. Infrastructure at ICAMS will be reorganised into 3 discrete facilities:

  1. Vascular Core of myography and imaging
  2. Clinical vascular phenotyping Core
  3. Clinical Trials Core

Who is involved?

BHF Professor Rhian Touyz, Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, is the Principal Investigator and Award Director of the Excellence Award, working closely together with 12 senior co-investigators from multi-disciplinary backgrounds in order to implement the programme.

  • Prof Andy Baker – BHF Professor of Translational Cardiovascular Sciences and Deputy Director for the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
  • Prof Colin Berry – Professor of Cardiology and Imaging, Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
  • Dr Christian Delles – Reader, Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
  • Prof Anna Dominiczak – Regius Professor of Medicine, VP and Head of College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences
  • Prof Gerard Graham – Professor of Molecular and Structural Immunology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation
  • Prof Alan Jardine – Professor of Renal Medicine, Head of School, School of Medicine
  • Prof Mandy MacLean – Professor of Pulmonary Pharmacology, Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
  • Prof Iain McInnes – Director, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation
  • Prof John McMurray – Professor of Cardiology, Institue of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
  • Prof Graeme Milligan – Dean of Research, Gardiner Chair of Biochemistry, Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology
  • Prof Harald Mischak – Robertson Chair in Biotechnology, Professor of Proteomics, Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
  • Prof Naveed Sattar – Professor of Metabolic Medicine, Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences

Since joining ICAMS in 2013, Prof Tom Guzik, Regius Chair of Physiology/Cardiovascular Pathobiology has also become a Co-investigator.

Prof Matthew Walters, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, Head of Undergraduate Medical School and Deputy Dean of Graduate Studies has also been included as a Co-investigator and is actively involved in developing the clinical rotation/observership programme.

Why we applied and what the award means to ICAMS

Chronic diseases challenging our society e.g. heart failure; stroke, vascular dementia and coronary artery disease (CAD) are linked to a common factor, namely vascular dysfunction. The impact of diseases associated with aberrant vascular function is enormous, affecting >20 million individuals in the UK. This will grow as our population ages and as the prevalence of conditions causing vascular damage (obesity, dyslipidaemia, diabetes, hypertension (HT)) increases. Hence there is an urgent need to better understand the biology of the vasculature in health and disease.

Considering the scientific strengths and strategic priority related to vascular research in ICAMS, we believe that Glasgow is well positioned to lead the way in unravelling the vascular (patho)biology in health and disease. The Award of Excellence provides opportunities to bring together outstanding researchers across multiple disciplines in MVLS, including immunology, inflammation, signalling, cell biology and cardiovascular science and medicine, to study vascular dysfunction as a root cause of chronic cardiovascular disease.

How will the £3M be used?

The award will support:

  1. Pump priming for innovative projects in the 3 Research Axes. This will provide leverage for full proposals and new research funds.
  2. Three highly skilled personnel to lead the 3 Cores.
  3. Support new training programmes (PhD for clinicians 2-3/year; clinical rotations for post-docs in basic science 5-6/4-6 month cycle).
  4. Advancing knowledge in vascular biology and biomedicine through seminars, workshops and summer schools for trainees, researchers, clinicians, technicians.

How is the Excellence Award managed?

Professor Touyz is Director of the Excellence Award at ICAMs and will lead the scientific direction, maintaining an oversight of the achievements and challenges presented as this work progresses. Under her supervision, a Management Board has been nominated and appointed, tasked with approving plans, milestones, project content and processes as well as having an advisory role.

For each of the 3 main research axes within the Excellence Award, a Project Leader has been appointed, as follows:

  1. Redox biology for small vessel disease - Professor Rhian Touyz
  2. Immune dysregulation in vascular disease – led by Professor Tom Guzik
  3. Early onset vascular disease & socioeconomic factors – led by Professor Naveed Sattar

When will the award be initiated?

The award became active in April 2014.

Activities to date:

  1. Mrs Karen Trofimova has been appointed as Project Manager for the Excellence Award, tasked with managing the day-to-day operations and administration, coordination of trainee activities and communications.
  2. Some new infrastructure for the Vascular phenotyping and Vascular Cores has been purchased. A SphygmoCor EXCEL has been purchased as well as a new objective for the confocal microscope.
  3. The recruitment process is underway, with processes in place for advertising for the 3 Core Leader positions and the clinical PhD candidates.
  4. Calls for post-doc clinical rotations will be made in the next few months.
  5. Research projects within the 3 Research Axes are currently being developed and the 3 research project groups have started to meet regularly to ramp up this process.

How do I keep informed of activities related to the Excellence Award?

The Excellence Award at ICAMs will have a dedicated website on the current ICAMs web pages. This is currently under development and its release will be circulated as soon as it is ready. Quarterly newsletters will be issued to keep everyone up-to-date on the activities and achievements of the award work. Additionally, the Excellence Award will have a social media presence with the creation of its own Facebook Page and Twitter Account. These will be ready shortly and everyone is encouraged to engage with them.

The key contact person at ICAMS for enquiries and information regarding the Excellence Award is:

Mrs Karen Trofimova
Email: karen.trofimova@glasgow.ac.uk 
Tel: 0141 330 8049, Room 340, BHF GCRC

Links to other Centres of Excellence

The University of Glasgow (ICAMs) joins 5 other Centres of Excellence around the UK.

For further information please contact:

Mrs Karen Trofimova
Email: karen.trofimova@glasgow.ac.uk 
Tel: 0141 330 8049, Room 340, BHF GCRC