At the University of Pittsburgh, we have been performing carotid ultrasound in epidemiological studies since 1985, beginning with the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program (SHEP) and the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). Since that time, we have established the Department of Epidemiology Ultrasound Research Laboratory (URL) with the goal of providing a high volume of quality non-invasive measures of subclinical vascular disease tests for research purposes.

The URL collaborates with investigators world-wide, provides consulting for research methodologies and projects, teaches graduate and doctoral students cardiovascular research, trains research protocols to sonographers, and is a Beta-site for new noninvasive technologies.

The laboratory offers research protocols for carotid ultrasound, flow-mediated brachial artery reactivity, multiple different methodologies of vascular stiffness, reading peri-aortic vascular adipose tissue (PVAT), and ankle/arm blood pressures. More than a dozen ongoing studies are active in the lab with an average of 1200 participants and 2000 tests performed yearly. We also serve as a reading center for several multisite national and international studies. Projects are funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and other funding agencies.

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