Members of ACRC work around the table

Left to right- Francois Abboud, Michael Brody, Donald Heistad, and Allyn Mark

The François M. Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center was established in 1974 as the first major University of Iowa multidisciplinary, biomedical research initiative. The most extensive intercollegiate cardiovascular research application ever sent from the UI to the National Institutes of Health was submitted at that time. It included a five-year $25 million grant proposal that ushered in an era of unprecedented growth and success of interdisciplinary team research. A prominent component of the new center was an NIH Institutional Research Fellowship Training Grant, now nearing funding for 45 years, designed to support the training of physician-scientists as well as PhD scientists.

Over the four decades, the Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center (ACRC) has been a powerhouse in the study of cardiovascular disease, making fundamental discoveries that have led to a greater understanding and more skillful management of heart disease and stroke. A key research theme has shown how the cardiovascular system and the nervous system regulate each other. This regulation has been the basis for the most effective therapies for treatment of patients with heart failure and hypertension. Another theme has been the discovery of key molecules and pathways that transmit electrical and chemical signals in the heart and are associated with hypertension, obesity, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks. Over the years, members have been awarded more than $450 million in federal grant support. The work of center scientists has paved the way for innovative diagnostics, medicines, and treatment strategies while nurturing new generations of dedicated investigators.

The center's training programs have graduated hundreds of cardiovascular physicians and basic scientists including many who are now distinguished investigators and leaders at the UI and around the world. These programs embrace four notable characteristics:

  • The mix of physician-scientist in addition to PhD scientist trainees, often in the same laboratory;
  • The exposure of trainees to a number of outstanding and experienced scientists in addition to their primary mentor;
  • The careful nurturing of trainees by center mentors, faculty and leadership during the critical transition from postdoctoral fellow to independent faculty scientist;
  • The continuing support of former trainees during their faculty careers even at a distance and other institutions.