NHLBI awards $36.7 million to UAB for continuation of CARDIA Study

Since 1985, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study has examined the factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease to better understand the natural history of cardiovascular disease over the adult life course.
Written by: Maria White and Andy Currie
Media contact: Hannah Echols

Stream UAB signage Photography: Steve WoodThe University of Alabama at Birmingham will receive $36.7 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute within the National Institutes of Health to continue the Birmingham field and coordinating centers for the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Since the study began in 1985, CARDIA data have been published in over 1,000 papers that have generated nearly 58,000 citations. 

The CARDIA coordinating center, led by James Shikany, DrPH, Oberman Endowed Professor in Preventive Medicine, will receive $29 million to facilitate and oversee study activities for the next 10 years. The field center, led by Cora E. Lewis, M.D., chair of the Department of Epidemiology, and Kelley Pettee Gabriel, Ph.D., associate dean for Research in the UAB School of Public Health, received $7.7 million to continue to follow the participants they originally recruited in Birmingham.

“We still have a lot to learn about the development of heart disease. We are at the point in CARDIA where people have reached the age when we see actual cardiovascular events, not just the presence of risk factors or subclinical disease,” Shikany said. “This kind of study enables us to look at the natural development of cardiovascular disease instead of just being able to look at snapshots here and there.”

1205353989568552.MS27FRoE0lvA70YIq1sd height640The CARDIA Birmingham coordinating center team. L to R: Christie McCullum-Hill, DrPH; Sejong Bae, Ph.D.; James Shikany, DrPH; Byron Chancellor; Dongquan Chen, Ph.D.; and Lucia Juarez, Ph.D.
Photography: Andy Currie
The objective of this nearly 40-year-old investigation is to examine the factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and better understand the natural history of cardiovascular disease over the adult life course.

Over the years, data on factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose were collected. Data on physical weight and body composition, as well as lifestyle factors such as dietary and exercise patterns, tobacco/alcohol use, behavioral and psychological variables, and medical and family history were collected.  

“CARDIA has evolved into a life course study of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular health, alongside brain health, health disparities and so much more,” Lewis said. “The study has served as a launching pad and training ground for early-stage investigators, including its position as a resource for publications, career development awards and even first NIH grants.”

The CARDIA study began in 1985, recruiting a cohort of 5,115 participants into approximately equal subgroups of race, gender, education and age at each of four field centers: Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Oakland, California. This cohort has participated in multiple follow-up examinations from 1987 to 2022.

inside lewis and gabrielCora E. Lewis, M.D., and Kelley Pettee Gabriel, Ph.D., lead the CARDIA Birmingham field center. Photography: Steve Wood and Lexi CoonThe new, NHLBI-funded contract will support CARDIA’s core operations, including participant retention activities and follow-up for cardiovascular and other outcomes of interest to the study. The contract will also support options for a year 40 and/or year 45 in-person examination to serve as a platform for ancillary studies. 

To learn more about the CARDIA study, visit the CARDIA website.

Disclaimer: Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers 75N92023D00002 and 75N92023D00005. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.