The Deane Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke

Massachusetts General Hospital has created our nation's first multi-specialty institute dedicated to the prevention and treatment of atrial fibrillation and one of its most devastating complications – stroke.


Massachusetts General Hospital has created our nation's first multi-specialty institute dedicated to the prevention and treatment of atrial fibrillation and one of its most devastating complications – stroke.

The Deane Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke at MGH was founded through the generosity of Carol and Disque Deane. It was established as a one-of-a-kind research and education institute whose primary goals are to:

  • Pinpoint the genetic roots of Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and embolic stroke in AF.
  • Determine the genetic basis for stroke in patients with AF who are predisposed to develop this complication.
  • Identify patients who are at high risk for intracerebral hemorrhage, a feared complication of anticoagulation therapy used to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF.
  • Develop new devices for treating AF without drugs and for preventing stroke in patients with AF.
  • Educate primary care physicians and other caregivers in the diagnosis and treatment of AF.
  • Train a new generation of physicians in neuro-cardiology.


About the Deane Institute

The Deane Institute aims to accelerate current research and has enable MGH investigators to launch several new AF and stroke research initiatives. The Deane Institute hopes to alter the landscape of heart and brain study, speeding a new wave of advances that could have a profound impact on the treatment and prevention of both AF and stroke.

A Timely Response to a Growing Public Health Problem

Atrial fibrillation now affects 3 million Americans and is the most common sustained arrhythmia seen in clinical practice with approximately 350,000 new cases occurring each year. With the aging of the population and the increasing prevalence of contributing risk factors such as hypertension, the incidence of AF will increase significantly in the coming decades.

For example, experts predict that one in every four adults now age 40 will develop AF over the next 25 years, creating an even greater public health problem than exists today. Exacerbating these projections is the fact that AF accounts for 15% of all strokes in the general population and close to 30% of all strokes among older individuals. Thus, establishing the Deane Institute at MGH is both timely and vital and will help address a public health need of major significance.

MGH: An Ideal Setting for the Institute

The Deane Institute's location within the MGH – one of the world's foremost academic medical centers - provides an ideal setting for accomplishing the Institute’s goals. The hospital's Cardiac Arrhythmia Service and the Stroke Service are widely considered among the finest centers of their type, regionally and nationally. AF and stroke research are well-established areas of concentrated interest within both services:

The MGH Cardiac Arrhythmia Service

Headed by Jeremy N. Ruskin, MD, the MGH Cardiac Arrhythmia Service is a leader in several facets of AF treatment and stroke prevention: the service is the region’s only clinical center with an associated basic science program that is addressing the genetics of AF; it sponsors the largest interventional electrophysiology (EP) service in New England; its physicians are the most experienced in the world in applying the latest catheter ablation techniques for treating AF; it is a world leader in the development and use of a left atrial appendage occlusion device for stroke prevention (the Watchman), and its physicians are pioneering the application of a unique image integration system to guide catheter ablation procedures. The system combines MRI images with electro-anatomic maps, producing unprecedented accuracy and clarity in three-dimensional images of the heart.

The MGH Stroke Service

Directed by Karen Furie, MD, the MGH Stroke Service comprises several faculty who are world leaders in the study of the genetic risk factors for stroke, stroke prevention, identification of disease biomarkers and other facets of stroke study and treatment. The Stroke Service's genetic studies are being conducted in collaboration with the MGH’s Center for Human Genetics Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Broad Institute. Because the greatest impact on stroke as a public health issue is via preventive measures, MGH Stroke Service physicians have been forerunners in the investigation of anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents, statins and vitamins in stroke prevention.

The MGH's extensive intellectual assets, its large and varied patient population, the scope of its research enterprise and its experience and leadership in the treatment and study of diseases affecting the heart and brain define an investigative environment that is ripe with potential for translating laboratory discoveries into improved clinical care.

Creating a New Synergy in Heart-Brain Study

Establishing the Deane Institute has formalized a new structure that is fostering integrative research among the MGH's heart and brain specialists. Traditionally, cardiology and neurology at the MGH have existed side-by-side with little overlap in clinical services or laboratory research. The Deane Institute serves as the vehicle for bringing the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service and the Stroke Service together to capture the rich research and clinical experience within each specialty and to funnel this knowledge into an accelerated and intensified effort aimed at AF-related stroke prevention and treatment.

The Deane Institute is providing the hospital’s top heart and brain specialists with new opportunities for jointly investigating intriguing topics of mutual interest, especially out-of-the-box ideas that challenge con-ventional wisdom. It will also allow rising stars among the MGH's junior faculty to generate data and proof-of-concept for innovative studies that will enable them to apply for National Institutes of Health grants and other external support. Modest investments of this type can leverage millions of dollars in NIH funding while launching the careers of the MGH's most promising young faculty.

Educating Physicians and Training a New Generation of Specialists

The Deane Institute's research mission is complemented by educational programs for primary care physicians and other caregivers to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of AF and the prevention of its complications. Instructional efforts will include live webcasts demonstrating catheter ablation techniques, left atrial appendage occlusion procedures (implantation of the Watchman) and a series of web conferences on the management of AF. The Deane Institute's research agenda will be further strengthened by a special fellowship program geared to preparing a new generation of clinicians and investigators who are in-terested in studying overlapping facets of cardiology and neurology.


Walter J. Koroshetz, MD
Deputy Director, National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke

Robert A. Hughes, MD
Medical Director, Bulfinch Medical Group

Karen Furie, MD, MPH
Director, MGH Stroke Service

John R. Levinson, MD, PhD
Assistant Physician, Cardiac Unit

Jeremy N. Ruskin, MD
Director, Mass GeneralCardiac Arrhythmia Service

G. William Dec, Jr., MD
Chief, Mass General Cardiology

Anne B. Young, MD, PhD

Allen Roses, MD
Senior Vice-President of Genetics Research

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