Cardiovascular Research

We use systems genetics that combines epidemiology, genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics to study cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Our goal is to better understand the molecular landscape of regulatory networks acting within and across metabolic and vascular tissues that causes CVD in humans.

CVD is the leading cause of death, responsible for nearly half of all mortalities in the US and worldwide. Atherosclerotic lesions in larger blood vessels (arteries) are the main cause of CVD leading to myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke.

Today, CVD can only be partially prevented by targeting CVD risk factors, such as high levels of bad cholesterol. We focus on trying to improve prevention of CVD by identifying early molecular diagnostics of people at risk for heart attack or stroke as well as therapies directly targeting atherosclerosis. A key resource for our work, generated in collaboration with Tart University Hospital in Estonia, is our human multi-tissue DNA and RNA dataset and biobank, named STARNET. This work is led by the Björkegren laboratory in close collaboration with the Schadt Laboratory.

Our Published Research

Johan LM Björkegren, MD, PhD and colleagues, have been published in a number of national and international journals. Featured below is some of their recent work. 


“Cardiometabolic risk loci share downstream cis- and trans-gene regulation across tissues and diseases.”

Abstract: Read here.

Reprint: Read here. 

Full text: Read here.

Francis Collins, NIH Director, commented on the paper: Read here. 

Cell Systems

“Cross-Tissue Regulatory Gene Networks in Coronary Artery Disease.” Read the full study

PloS Genetics

“Plasma Cholesterol-Induced Lesion Networks Activated before Regression of Early, Mature, and Advanced Atherosclerosis.” Read the full study

“Multi-organ expression profiling uncovers a gene module in coronary artery disease involving transendothelial migration of leukocytes and LIM domain binding 2: the Stockholm Atherosclerosis Gene Expression (STAGE) study.” Read the full study

“Transcriptional profiling uncovers a network of cholesterol-responsive atherosclerosis target genes.” Read the full study


JACC - Journal of the American College of Cardiology

“Genome-Wide Significant Loci: How Important Are They? Systems Genetics to Understand Heritability of Coronary Artery Disease and Other Common Complex Disorders.” Read the full study

Science Translation Medicine

“NEW: Network-Enabled Wisdom in Biology, Medicine, and Health Care.” Read the full study