Medical research is essential in delivering optimum health care as physicians
and nurses learn more about the best evidence-based treatments for various
diseases to improve patient outcomes. While some may think of research
as being done only in distant, isolated labs— it’s exciting
to learn that cutting-edge cardiovascular research and clinical trials
are currently being conducted here in the South Bay at Torrance Memorial
Medical Center and have been for many years.
This integral research is led by Mark D. Lurie, MD, medical director of
the Lundquist Lurie
Cardiovascular Institute, renamed by the Lundquists in honor of Dr. Lurie.
“It began in 1995, with a few doctors doing Phase III trials. The
formal institutional program started in 2002. Since its inception, approximately
35 cardiac studies have been performed at Torrance Memorial,” says
Dr. Lurie. The results of every study, regardless if they were expected
or unexpected, have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
The research done at Torrance Memorial has touched upon life-impacting
cardiovascular topics such as heart failure, atrial fibrillation (a-fib),
anticoagulation (blood thinners), cardiac (coronary) stents, unstable
angina, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), cholesterol and type 2 diabetes,
explains Dr. Lurie.
Dr. Lurie says research partners with Torrance Memorial have been institutions
such as, but not limited to, Harvard University, Duke University and the
American Heart Association. In addition to Dr. Lurie, the research team
consists of six physicians—Mike Wyman, Ankush Chabra, Matt Ostrum,
Sang Ji, Victoria Shin and Salman Azam—and a nurse practitioner,
Roxanna Balter, who all oversee studies, and several research assistants:
Sue Ellen Hosino, RN, Jaquelina Patti, Joy Gonzalez and Joy Burkhardt,
who handle the day-to-day research work in addition to conducting follow-ups
on patients, which can last for several years. “We could not do
this important research without the help of these other medical professionals,”
says Dr. Lurie.
Two examples of major breakthrough studies in which Torrance Memorial participated
are the PROVE-IT and IMPROVE-IT studies. the purpose of both was to find
the most effective medications in lowering LDL cholesterol. Dr. Lurie
points out, “Both studies when completed had a significant impact
on treating elevated cholesterol.”
Non-pharmacologic research is also studied at Torrance Memorial, says Dr.
Lurie, and includes investigations into determining the benefits of exercise
in heart failure and the use of bio-absorbable stents vs. standard stent
treatment, to name two. Dr. Lurie believes the benefits of performing
research are many. “Our community steps into the forefront of new
treatments, which sometimes provide new options for patients. Physicians
and institutions are given the opportunity to share knowledge and there
is a moral satisfaction that we are advancing the quality and knowledge