SVS reveals research priorities for next decade

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Female nurse assisting patient undergoing dialysis in hospital room

The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) Research Council has updated its top 10 research priorities, originally published in 2011, with patient-centered outcomes and personalized vascular care at their core and a new emphasis on healthcare disparities.

The priorities help the Society target research proposals for its own grants and awards, and provide external organizations with what SVS members regard as important goals, said Edith Tzeng, MD, and Matthew Corriere, MD, of the Research Council.

The updated areas of research focus on aortic, carotid, lower extremity arterial (two priorities each) and venous disease, along with dialysis access, healthcare disparities and medical management of vascular disease (one priority each).

The new priorities add disparities as well as vascular medicine/vascular health as areas of focus, highlighting a shift in emphasis over the past decade. “We can’t focus on everything,” said Corriere. “Part of our discussion was ‘what do we want to call attention to in the updates?’”

 The updated priorities “reflect our increasing awareness of the need to understand vascular disease pathogenesis and prevention in the context of a diverse patient population. Importantly, patient-centered outcomes and personalized vascular care are at the core of these updated priorities,” said members of the SVS Research Council writing about the priorities in the November issue of Journal of Vascular Surgery (JVS). Tzeng, the former council chair, is first author. 

“With our greater social awareness, it is paramount that we address these disparities and understand their impact on patient health and outcomes of treatment,” said Tzeng. 

Currently, there is a big emphasis on medical optimization, said Corriere, “That aligns with paying attention to healthy living and disease prevention.” 

“We think disparities and patient-centered care are extremely important aspects of what we can do to improve health in the broader community,” said Raul Guzman, MD, current chair of the Research Council. “We’re very aware of the issues related to providing care for a diverse patient population and, by doing research in this area, we hope to improve care for all of our patients.” 

Healthcare assessment is also moving from technical outcomes to more patient-centered outcomes, said Guzman. And research in coming years will focus on what patients consider to be the most important aspects of their care. 

The 10 priorities were selected through a lengthy process (see adjacent article), which began with 106 selected surgeon-scientists asked to submit “the two most important questions in vascular research that need to be answered for the care of our patients.” 

The new priorities create a ”framework for vascular surgeons to engage in research in ways that the wider community thinks are significant and will improve patient care,” said Guzman. 

“We hope to help our young investigators focus on problems that our Society’s membership feels are important in terms of our daily practices. If we can encourage our members to become enthusiastic about these particular topics, that would be a big accomplishment,” he said. 

Researchers hope the updated priorities will serve as a starting point for aligning research efforts within the SVS and among vascular surgeons and scientists, and that they will help drive larger investigations that lead to improved patient care. 

This occurred with the 2011 priorities; four of the nine priorities have been explored in national multicenter studies “that directed the questions we posed,” said Tzeng. “By listing priorities and putting them down on paper, it helps us as a Society and helps other researchers develop trials to look into these topics.” 

Priorities from 2011 remain important to the vascular research community said all three doctors, emphasizing that the new priorities listed are not the only areas of research that are important. “At this moment, these are areas that membership believe should be a higher priority,” said Corriere. 

Corriere, Guzman and Tzeng also pointed out that for this update, the group overall intentionally refers to the updated priorities as simply “research priorities,” removing the word “clinical.” 

“Although these priorities are clinically oriented, the answers to these important questions may lie in investigations that focus on basic, translational or clinical research,” said the article. “These priorities are intended to be as inclusive as possible, encouraging research approaches that may use genomic data to identify disease-specific mutations, cell-based therapies, computational modeling, novel imaging technology, implementation science, clinical trials and so on.” 

What’s the future for the priorities? Guzman foresees a shorter time interval between updates, “because treatments and care are evolving so rapidly,” he said, with treatments common today that simply were not available in 2011. “There are things just now being discovered that in five years will make the cut,” said Guzman. 

After all, it was partly such advances that spurred the review. “There are so many new technologies and medications that appear and make us review an old question,” said “Corriere. “We wanted to get fresh eyes on the priorities (from 2011) in light of new evidence and treatments.” 

All three surgeons hope people read the JVS article and review the priorities. “It shows what our members think are important topics and demonstrates the success of the prior priorities,” said Tzeng. “It says, ‘here are our updated research priorities. Look at how much we have achieved since the original set of priorities.’“ 

Read the article in JVS at vascular.org/ResearchPriorities. 

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