University of Minnesota

Emergence of supportive institutions and a scientific community for CVD prevention

In mid-twentieth century, a few pioneers mobilized to develop an independent branch of medical science in CVD epidemiology and preventive cardiology. Along with their ideas, institutions formed to provide guidance and support to the new research. The investigators and the institutions were closely bound from the outset in their mutual need, one for support and the other for viable programs. The researchers’ creativity drove the research agenda of the new agencies, and the agencies, in turn, enthusiastically supported the investigators’ new undertakings and careers.

CVD prevention research flourished, particularly in the U.S., especially due to the post-war expansion of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its funding. NIH was abetted by the new public role of the American Heart Association with its expanded view of community service, research and public policy in prevention. Interest in CVD prevention research also grew in Europe, if not at such a galloping pace, where government and science, scientist and administrator, were more distant and their relations more nuanced.

The early planning and methods conferences called by the new institutions led to a collegial body that enjoyed its emergence as a pioneering scientific community with an international voice.


  • The National Heart Institute, National Heart Act, and Advisory Heart Council
  • The USPHS Heart Disease Control Program and Centers for Disease Control
  • The American Heart Association and its Scientific Council on Epidemiology and Prevention
  • The UK Medical Research Council
  • The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • The WHO Cardiovascular Disease Unit
  • Founding and Evolution of International Cardiovascular Societies
  • References

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