aha case study
The Heart & Vascular Institute at George Washington University

Building a Research, Education & Community Institute from the Ground Up

The Heart & Vascular Institute is dedicated to promoting clinical research, education, patient care and community service with the goal of accelerating the pace of scientific discovery, reducing mortality and improving quality of life. 

In the late 2000s, the George Washington Medical Center Cardiovascular Department hired the aha Group. A grateful patient had given GW Cardiology nearly $4 million to start a new cardiovascular institute – that patient was Vice President Richard Cheney, along with his wife Lynne Cheney. The cardiovascular department needed to build an institute from the ground up.

Lisa came on board working closely with the Chief of Cardiology, Dr. Richard Katz, and his outstanding cardiovascular team. The process began to create an institute with a three-pronged mission: Research, Education and Community Service. The work entailed everything from creating the Institute’s brand identity, and building a strong Board of Directors, to establishing a fundraising infrastructure and building collaborations across GW’s vast resource-rich campus.

Progress was swift and educational and community outreach programs provided early successes, which helped build a base of activity to engage patients and individuals and fuel the fundraising efforts. In the first two years an additional $2 million in donations was generated. 

In 2007, Lisa assumed a full-time position as the founding Executive Director. She, with the Chief of Cardiology, helped focus on the research front and formed a research committee. Lisa supported the development of a research agenda, a grant administration process and launched the first grant awards that afforded opportunities for interdisciplinary research open to faculty and fellows throughout the GW campus.

Working collaboratively, the Heart & Vascular Institute forged a relationship with the GW McCormick Genomic Center and went on to produce a major research education symposium on Cardiovascular Genomics and a follow-up series of visiting professors. Original research was also funded, such as a grant that supported a Cardiotoxicity study examining heart failure in chemotherapy patients to identify genetic markers of women at risk for developing heart failure after breast cancer treatment. 

Today the GW cardiovascular Institute continues its good work, built on a strategic base for making a difference.