The William Harvey Research Institute was established in 1986 by the
distinguished pharmacologist and Nobel Laureate, Sir John Vane
The Institute's overall aim is stated in its Memorandum of Association, namely to "conduct fundamental research in the area of cardiovascular, inflammatory and metabolic diseases and to disseminate the results thereof." This translates to our key mission statements:
People often ask us what the Institute "works on" and are baffled when we explain that our field of interests is actually rather broad. One common feature which runs through most of our work is that of the vascular endothelium and its disorders.
One of the keynotes of the Institute's philosophy is that of flexibility and adaptation. We do not believe that good science should ever be technique-driven but should be led by the nature of the problem. Because of this we maintain a very broad portfolio of skills and in our laboratories molecular biologists rub shoulders with traditional pharmacologists using bioassays. The action of drugs can be assessed on isolated or recombinant enzymes as well as being tested in healthy human volunteers or in patients.
But understanding the disease is only half the problem for above all we are interested in developing new cures, new drugs or new techniques which may lead ultimately to the alleviation of suffering. The identification of a malfunctioning enzymatic pathway or a defective gene, is only the first step. Through our industrial and other contacts we can tap into a supply of novel compounds, synthetic peptides and hormones and can use our skill in assessing their activity to begin the search for tomorrow's drug. The Institute bridges the gap between academia and industry in a unique way enabling our scientists to have direct access to the development process where applicable.
In our teaching we endeavor to foster creativity above all things and to offer the student the opportunity to adopt different approaches to any one particular problem. We are conscious of our obligations to the next generation of scientists who, standing on our shoulders, will further the investigation of health and disease to heights that even we cannot conceive.
All the blood vessels are lined by the vascular endothelium, a mono layer of cells which not only acts as the body's natural blood container but also as a powerful endocrine gland in its own right. In an adult the endothelium has a weight of over 3 lbs. But a total surface area equal to that of a football field. By constantly secreting factors such as nitric oxide, prostaglandins and heparin it prevents the blood from clotting, maintains a vasodilator tone and prevents platelets and other cells from sticking to the inside of the blood vessel.
Smooth muscle cells migrate from the media into the intima of the arterial wall presumably in response to some chemotactic factor. These smooth muscle cells produce excessive vasoconstriction in pulmonary hypertension patients.
The main research focus of the Institute is the study of vascular endothelium: these flat endothelial cells which line all blood vessels in a single layer have many functions. On one hand they destroy some chemical substances circulating in the blood while on the other hand they manufacture and release chemicals such as prostacyclin and nitric oxide which keep the blood flowing freely through the vessels. Boosting the body's own production of prostacyclin and nitric oxide in high-risk individuals could be an effective strategy for reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, including pulmonary hypertension.
The William Harvey Medical Research Foundation is a funding arm of the William Harvey Research Institute. Our address is 1735 Connecticut Avenue, NW - 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20009, Fax 202-483-4006, Phone 202-483-4033. Our President is Martine Rothblatt, who helped create the satellite communications industry in Washington, D.C. and later gave millions to medical research.
We provide contributors with tax-deductible certification, and forward 100% of the money to the William Harvey Medical Research Institute. By making a donation, you can help accomplish all of the research described above.
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