Together, experts from UVA's Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center and the Department of Biomedical Engineering hope to uncover the disease's origin and development.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, and coronary heart disease, a type of cardiovascular disease also known as "heart artery plaque" or "hardening of the arteries," claims over 370,000 lives annually.

"Identifying new approaches to address cardiovascular disease promises to provide added benefit in terms of treatment and prevention," said Dr. Coleen McNamara, Frances Myers Ball professor of internal medicine at the UVA School of Medicine.

"We are grateful to the UVA Center for Engineering in Medicine for the seed grant that funded work to generate key feasibility data for this successful grant application."

Combining their disciplines of medicine and engineering, they will develop a technique to investigate the cellular and molecular processes behind the deadly buildup of plaque in the arteries, called atherosclerosis.

Dr. McNamara's group is credited with discovering a link to cardiovascular disease on the ID3 gene: a genetic variation called a "single nucleotide polymorphism."

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