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Brain-Heart Research Integrative Innovation Team Endeavor (BHRIITE) – A Paradigm Shift in Brain-Heart Concept and Care

Principal Investigator:
  • Peter Liu, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
Team Members:
  • Darren Warburton, University of British Columbia
  • Kelly Cobey, OHRI
  • Jodi Edwards, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • Abhinav Sharma, McGill University
  • Sandra Black, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Ruth Slack, University of Ottawa
  • Justin Ezekowitz, University of Alberta
  • Matthias Friedrich, McGill University
  • Heart & Stroke

Project Overview

Brain-Heart conditions such as cognitive impairment (trouble remembering and learning) or heart failure (heart muscle unable to pump enough blood) are becoming more common as we age. Brain and heart conditions commonly occur in the same patient, share the same risk factors, and have huge impact on patients’ lives. Despite this tight brain-heart connection, the diseases are treated by separate specialties, with different research priorities. Patients fall in the gap. Our patient partners told us that they are very dissatisfied. They would like to know, “Am I or my parents at risk for these conditions”; “How do I know if I have it already, and how severe?”; “Can we do anything to prevent it”; and finally, “Please hurry up and find answers, we don’t have time to wait”. Our BHRIITE Research Program is designed to change the fundamental disconnection between Brain and Heart conditions, and provide the foundation and link for new integrated Brain-Heart care in the future. We are on the verge of proving that these brain (cognitive impairment) and heart (heart failure) conditions are in fact connected disease processes. They share the same problem of not delivering adequate blood flow to the heart or brain due to defects in the small vessels of the organs. This leads to progressive brain or heart cell damage and ultimately death. To address this problem, we have assembled a world-leading team to develop new tools to predict who is at risk, and how severely. We will develop new diagnostic blood tests, and new ways to take pictures of the heart and brain. Together with our patient partners, we will test new treatments that can be used to protect both the brain and heart. We aim to improve the lives of our patients and protect everyone from these devastating conditions.