Imagine if we lost the entire population of New York City every year. That’s essentially the impact that coronary heart disease (CHD) has as the world’s number-one killer, claiming more than 7 million lives annually. What if we could prevent these deaths by changing the way we identify and treat the signs of CHD?

That’s the goal behind One Brave Idea, which has awarded $75 million to a team led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine Calum MacRae, MD, to disrupt cardiovascular research. He and his unique team—comprised of center directors from institutions including MIT and Northeastern University, the principal investigator of the Framingham Heart Study, and a venture capitalist—will test Dr. MacRae’s hypothesis that a range of factors, from bone density to geography-based environmental exposures, could play a role in CHD’s development. 

To explore these questions, the team will apply a novel research methodology, tapping the strengths of each One Brave Idea funder—Google’s analytics capabilities, AstraZeneca’s proprietary data, and the American Heart Association’s networks. Unlike conventional research approaches, the team will begin with more open questions than answers, whittling a wide range of ideas down to 10 promising pathways for further exploration. The idea, says Dr. MacRae, is to not only find ways to detect disease in its very early stages, but to create a new framework for the future study of a wide range of conditions. 

“Traditional biomedical research has done a lot for us, but can only do so much more,” Dr. MacRae told the American Heart Association News. “Instead of continuing to seek an incremental biological approach, we’re being eclectic. It’s almost like crowdsourcing in many different crowds. It’s time to begin using the remarkable advances in all of society to try a more holistic approach to solving our disease problems.”

Read more about Dr. MacRae’s research and the One Brave Idea research initiative here.

Topics: Technology, Innovation, Academic Medical Centers

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