Cardiovascular Health Research Unit (CHRU)


heart beat line with heart shape

Bridging medicine and public health to improve the cardiovascular health of the public

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The Cardiovascular Health Research Unit (CHRU) is a joint program of the UW’s Department of Medicine, Divisions of Cardiology and General Internal Medicine, and Group Health Research Institute, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, WA.

Investigators aim to develop and apply knowledge in order to prevent morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases.

Through the collaborative efforts of organizations and researchers based locally, nationally, and internationally, CHRU projects develop innovative approaches not only to the discovery of new biology through biomarkers and genomics, but also to the evaluation of prevention and treatment for cardiovascular disorders.

CHRU projects bridge medicine and public health to improve the cardiovascular health of the public.

Current Projects

Genomics of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among African-Americans

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a major public health concern, particularly among African Americans where risk of cardiac arrest is higher than that of the general population, and survival is poor. Genomics of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among African-Americans is a multi-center collaborative effort to identify and characterize genetic factors conferring susceptibility to SCA among African Americans. The project includes analysis of rare and common genetic variation and functional dissection of variants associated with SCA in mice and zebrafish. Few studies have examined the genetic risk factors for SCA among those of African descent, and this project aims to provide insights into SCA mechanisms and contribute to the development of novel drug therapies.

Atrial fibrillation burden, vascular disease of the brain, and cardiac MRI in MESA

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common arrhythmia that predisposes to devastating complications including stroke, faster cognitive decline, and dementia. It is not known whether AF episodes that occur without symptoms or AF episodes of longer duration increase risk for AF complications. Dr. Susan Heckbert is Principal Investigator on this project, which is conducted in the setting of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Our research examines predictors and outcomes associated with AF duration and with AF that does not cause symptoms.

Rare Variants and NHLBI Traits in Deeply Phenotyped Cohorts

Rare variant genome-wide association studies (GWAS), using the Illumina ExomeChip, offer a chance to expand upon the results of common variant GWAS, which typically explain only 5-10% of genetic contribution to phenotypic variance. This study uses ExomeChip data from over 50,000 participants in the CHARGE Consortium in order to meet the significant sample size requirements for high quality analysis. Using the available ExomeChip coding-region genotype data from CHARGE, the primary aim is to discover novel candidate genes and putative functional variants for high-priority heart, lung and blood phenotypes in multi-ethnic cohorts.



Nona Sotoodehnia MD Mph


Nona Sotoodehnia, MD, MPH
Associate Professor


CHRU Website

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Research Studies

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All Current Projects

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Past Projects

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Metroplitan Park East Tower
1730 Minor Ave, Suite 1360
Seattle, WA 98101

(206) 221-7775