Inside Tulane Med: Quarterly News from the Tulane University School of Medicine

Department Spotlight: Tulane Heart and Vascular Institute

The Tulane Heart and Vascular Institute includes clinical, educational and research programs for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Patrice Delafontaine, director of Tulane Heart and Vascular Institute and chief of the section of cardiology, says that his team is making significant progress in each of these areas including increasing the number of clinical trials performed.

Dr. Patrice Delafontaine
Dr. Patrice Delafontaine

"Tulane, Pennington and LSU successfully competed for a $20 million award from the National Institutes of Health, a collaborative research initiative called Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center. This has allowed us to set up a clinical trials unit that is fostering collaborative clinical and translational research in the medical school, and this includes research in cardiovascular disease," says Delafontaine.

The Institute is growing on the clinical side, as well. "We recruited a vascular surgeon, Dr. Albert Sam, who did a very interesting endovascular repair of an ascending aortic dissection," says Delafontaine. "We believe this was the first case of this surgery performed in the United States." 

The Institute has received national certification to implant ventricular assist devices as "destination therapy." These pumps are implanted temporarily in patients waiting for cardiac transplantation. But for patients who don't qualify or are too sick for a transplant they can be implanted as a destination therapy, not a bridge to transplant. "We have had several patients already who have been implanted and are doing quite well," says Delafontaine.

"From the point of view of our academic training programs, we had a 100 percent pass rate by the fellows who graduated last year," he says. "This is an important metric – national organizations look at that."

For more, see this issue's Tulane to double clinical trials >>

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