Research within the QRC-PVD is aimed at ultimately improving management of PVD through a group of wide ranging studies which focus on the presenting complaints and complications of PVD. Important and developing current focusses are shown below but the exact areas evolve in relation to new findings. The group is interested in the full range of PVD problems (including but not limited to arterial occlusive, aneurysmal and venous disease) as well as their whole range of complications (including myocardial infarction, stroke, renal impairment and other complications common in these patients). A large range of skills and techniques are used and sought in the group including those involving in vivo pre-clinical models, in vitro studies, genomics, genetics, bio-informatics, molecular biology, epidemiology, clinical trials, health economics and complex statistical analyses.
Examples of some of the current focus areas of the centre are given below, although these are continually evolving:
- Work designed to improve understanding of the pathogenesis of PVD: This work uses a range of approaches including the utilisation of in vivo pre-clinical models, human cells and tissues and blood samples;
- Work designed to develop potential new therapies for PVD: This work uses a variety of in vivo pre-clinical models and human samples and data;
- Work aimed as identifying potential new diagnostics: This work uses a range of blood and tissue samples from pre-clinical models and patients and is assisted by the establishment of a biobank;
- Work aimed at testing new management approaches or therapies: This work includes a range of pilot and larger randomised controlled trials;
- Work aimed at identifying novel risk factors and prognostic models: This work utilises a range of human data including clinical risk factors, social and nutritional factors, imaging information, blood tests and a large cohort of patients undergoing continued follow-up;
- Work aimed at identifying current management and process deficiencies: This work includes systematic reviews and developing health service research.
The group is interested in new students and regularly advertises for new staff who are appropriately skilled, interested and highly motivated to work on these areas. The Centre is also happy to take approaches from patients and the public wishing to take part in the research or otherwise contribute to the work being undertaken.
Established in 2010, the QRC-PVD evolved from the Vascular Biology Unit (VBU) at James Cook University, headed by Professor Jon Golledge. The VBU was developed de novo when the then Dr Golledge moved to Townsville in February 2002 to take up the combined post of Vascular Specialist at The Townsville Hospital and Associate Professor at James Cook University. Thanks to an initial three years of funding from James Cook University, two post-doctoral scientists (Dr Mirko Karan and Dr Moira Mccann) and a PhD student (Mr Corey Moran) rapidly joined the unit, one of whom (Dr Corey Moran) remains an important member of the QRC-PVD today.
Subsequently the VBU expanded due to success in external funding to include a large number of other post-doctoral scientists and students. In the early years much of the focus of the vascular research was in laboratory based work using in vitro studies and also other pre-clinical models to better understand human vascular disease. This work continues today at the QRC-PVD; however there has been an expansion of standalone clinical studies based on testing some of the therapy targets identified from the pre-clinical studies. These clinical studies include a number of randomised controlled trials.
In 2010, following funding from the Queensland Government and National Health and Medical Research Council, the two arms of the vascular research being undertaken within the unit were more formally recognised through the establishment of the Queensland Research Centre for Peripheral Vascular Disease (QRC-PVD). The design of the QRC-PVD is illustrated in Figure 1 and contains pre-clinical (VBU) and clinical arms focussed on the overall aim of improving management of peripheral vascular diseases.
The development of the QRC-PVD would not have been possible without the untiring work of many researchers, students and other staff and the support of many vascular specialists, the assistance of James Cook University and The Townsville Hospital staff and most importantly, not without the dedicated time and assistance of patients and other volunteers committed to developing improved care for peripheral vascular diseases. The QRC-PVD also relies very heavily on many key local, state, National and International collaborators.