Saint Luke's cardiac research fellow earns prestigious Dutch research grant

November 2, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kim Smolderen, M.D., a post-doctoral fellow at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute who is supported by the American Heart Association Pharmaceutical Roundtable/Spina Outcomes Research Center, has been awarded a Veni-grant worth more than $420,000.

The Veni-grant is a prestigious award that is part of the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme “Veni, Vidi, Vici” developed by The Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to promote innovation in the field of academic research. The funding initiative targets postdoctoral researchers and provides critical support for the most promising candidates to launch their research careers.

The main purposes of the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme are to provide the scope for adventurous, talented and pioneering researchers to conduct creative research of their own choice and to encourage them to choose a permanent career in academic research. The Veni competition is open to all investigators within three years of their Ph.D. and includes scientists from numerous disciplines, including genetics, physics, astronomy, health care and all other sciences.

Dr. Smolderen received the award based upon her proposal for the PORTRAIT registry (“Patient-centered Outcomes Related to Treatment practices in peripheral Arterial disease: an International Trajectory”) in the ‘Life Sciences' panel, where she competed against proposals from life sciences, agricultural and food sciences, biochemistry, medical sciences and technical sciences. Last year's competition had 809 applicants, of which 143 (17.7 percent) were awarded a grant. Only 47 awards were granted to female scholars.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is an extremely debilitating disease that arises from blockages in patients' leg arteries and limits their ability to walk without pain. It is associated with very high mortality, is costly to society and is treated with a wide variation of strategies, often incompletely. With the support of this grant, Dr. Smolderen will establish a prospective international registry focused on the documentation of the shortcomings in the way care and risk management for PAD is organized and how that impacts patients' clinical and quality of life outcomes – until now an understudied area and an outcome of growing importance to clinicians and policy makers.

The registry will be coordinated at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Mo., and at Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands. It will enroll patients from five vascular outpatient clinics in the U.S., two centers in the Netherlands and a center in Australia.

“This is an amazing accomplishment,” said John Spertus, M.D., clinical director of Outcomes Research at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute and Missouri/Lauer Endowed Chair and professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. “Dr. Smolderen is an extraordinarily talented young scholar who is devoting her career to understanding and improving care for a very vulnerable population. It is almost unprecedented for a trainee to launch such an important international study and securing this grant clearly attests to the quality and importance of this study.”

“Kansas City is very fortunate to be able to train scholars, like Dr. Smolderen, who will be able to make an enormous difference in health care by generating new knowledge to improve the care of patients. It is a great example of the value that being an AHA Pharmaceutical Roundtable/Spina Outcomes Research Center brings to our region,” Dr. Spertus added.

NOTE: “Veni, vidi, vici” means “I came, I saw, I conquered.” It is a quotation from a note sent by the famous Roman general Julius Caesar to notify the Senate of his lightning victory over Pontus in 47 B.C.