Two years ago, the Dutch CardioVascular Alliance was officially launched. It seems like only yesterday, and yet much has happened in two years. In this article, we want to take you back down memory lane, and look back at some of the highlights.
Our goals were ambitious from the start. “Being surprised by a heart attack or stroke will be a thing of the past in 10 years’ time”, read the press release on the day of the official launch. Our ambition was, and still is, to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease with 25% by 2030. To get there, we work on five priorities: research policy designed to maximise impact, fast tracks from idea to company (valorisation), fast tracks from lab to patient (implementation), training future top researchers (talent) and improve data infrastructure.
Within a few months we launched our first call together with the Innovative Medical Devices Initative (IMDI) “Heart for sustainable care”, in light of the research policy pillar with funds from the Dutch Heart Foundation, ZonMw and NWO-TTW. Shortly after that, we launched the second call “Gender and health”, a collaboration between the Dutch Heart Foundation and ZonMw.
We started a collaboration with Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders (RegMed XB) and received an investment of 8 million euros from the Dutch government to set up a new valorisation platform, including a joint early phase investment fund: F1RST. This initiative is important for Dutch patients, because of the gap that is still often found in translating results from fundamental medical research into available solutions, such as a new treatment or innovative technology. It is thus an important asset to both the valorisation and implementation pillars of the DCVA.
To improve data infrastructure, we centralised data on cardiovascular disease in the Netherlands, combining data on prevalence, incidence and death from cardiovascular diseases with data of all complex cardiological and cardio-surgical treatments in Dutch hospitals. Also we created a Guide on Infrastructure and the DCVA Data Portal, which can help researchers to find already collected cardiovascular data and biosamples, available for reuse.
Earlier this year, we launched a new type of consortium. The CUSTOM-AF implementation consortium aims to prevent cerebral infarctions caused by atrial fibrillation by improving the proactive casefinding and organisation of atrial fibrillation care.
To secure continuity in high quality and innovative research, the Dutch CardioVascular Alliance invests in identifying and nurturing the most talented cardiovascular researchers, which will become the leaders of the future in national and international research consortia, or have a strategic position in a non-academic sector. In the last two years, we started a fruitful collaboration with Young@Heart: the network of cardiovascular professionals, focusing on career and personal development. Also we launched the DCVA Leadership Program: a program to stimulate and develop the future leaders.
Earlier this year, the DCVA gained three valuable partners. The Dutch Societies of Vascular Medicine (NVIVG), Vascular Surgery (NVvV) and General Practioners with special interest in cardiovascular diseases (HartVaatHag) all have become full partners of the DCVA sharing the common ambition to lower cardiovascular disease burden in the Netherlands.
Last but not least, we launched and supported various studies in response to the COVID pandemic. We launched CAPACITY, COVID@HEART and PRAETORIAN.
We look forward to the coming years, when we will see the first results of DCVA consortia, the first start-ups aided by the FIRST fund, and we will be closer to our ultimate goal: to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease with 25% by 2030.