The collaboration between Semmelweis University and Novartis Hungary has reached another milestone: an innovative Lipid Management Center has been established to promote the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The official announcement was attended by Dr. Judit Bidló, Deputy State Secretary for the Professional Management of Health at the Ministry of Interior; Dr. Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University; László Bódis, Deputy State Secretary for Innovation; and Colette Matz, Country President and General Manager of Novartis Hungary. This collaboration is part of the trilateral cooperation agreement signed in spring 2022, which aims to give technical-digital and healthcare innovation a greater role in public health.

Semmelweis University, the ministry responsible for innovation, and Novartis Hungary Ltd. signed a cooperation agreement in 2022, the three pillars of which are increasing and digitizing access to clinical research, ensuring Hungary’s leading role in the field of cell and gene therapies, and launching a national cardiovascular public health program.

A significant proportion of cardiovascular diseases is caused by arteriosclerosis. This group of diseases includes myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke. In Hungary, one in two deaths is due to arteriosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease. By contrast, on average only one in three deaths in the European Union is attributable to this group of diseases, so Hungary is disproportionately affected in this respect.



There is ample evidence that so-called ‘bad cholesterol’, formally known as LDL cholesterol, plays a key role in arteriosclerosis. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol cause the walls of blood vessels to calcify and narrow, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. It is well known that effectively lowering cholesterol levels can prevent or even reverse the narrowing of blood vessels and thus prevent stroke or heart attack.

LDL cholesterol levels are mainly influenced by hereditary (genetic) factors and lifestyle. According to evidence-based international professional recommendations, cardiovascular disease caused by arteriosclerosis can be effectively prevented by lowering LDL cholesterol to certain target levels. Revolutionary and highly effective drugs are now available to reduce bad cholesterol levels, but lifestyle changes are at least as important.

Semmelweis Lipid Center

Within the framework of the above cooperation, the Semmelweis Lipid Center was established with a twofold objective. The first objective consists of data analysis. This will involve mapping representative cholesterol levels in Hungary by region, gender, age subgroup, and existing co-morbidities. The aim is to identify the patient groups most at risk of arteriosclerosis. In addition, by examining the LDL cholesterol levels of thousands of patients with heart attacks at the Városmajor Heart and Vascular Center of Semmelweis University, they plan to identify correlations that could help them to implement new interventions to achieve the LDL cholesterol target set by international professional recommendations as soon as possible and as effectively as possible in the patient group concerned.

The prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases is essential, as these diseases affect one in five people in Hungary and cause around 60,000 deaths a year. This also means that almost one in two deaths in the country is attributable to cardiovascular diseases, compared to only one in three deaths in the EU.

“The Government of Hungary is so committed to the most effective treatment of cardiovascular diseases and the cure of our fellow citizens with heart disease that we have made the fight against cardiovascular diseases one of the top priorities of the upcoming Hungarian EU Presidency and have set the adoption of a European action plan as one of the objectives by the end of our Presidency cycle,” said Dr. Judit Bidló, Deputy State Secretary for the Professional Management of Health.

“In the John von Neumann Program, we aim to foster close cooperation between universities and research institutes on the one hand and the corporate sector on the other, so that joint developments generate real social and economic impact. These are precisely the characteristics of the cooperation between Semmelweis University and Novartis, which can serve as a model for other players in the innovation landscape,” added László Bódis, Deputy State Secretary for Innovation.

High LDL cholesterol is the root cause of most cardiovascular diseases, so lowering LDL cholesterol to target levels can reduce cardiovascular risk. The partners have started to map the lipid levels of the population: preliminary results show that the average LDL cholesterol level of the Hungarian population is high in all regions, well above the target level. In addition, Semmelweis University has set up a first-of-its-kind pilot lipid treatment center to treat patients at highest risk.

The “Lipid management of high-risk cardiovascular patients” trial at Semmelweis University aims to identify the most appropriate combination of interventions and treatments to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, such as more frequent medical reviews, consultation with a dietician, or faster changes in medication if the basic therapy does not achieve the target LDL cholesterol level.

“The second goal of the Semmelweis Lipid Center is to test the efficacy of a novel, unique, complex approach targeting patients with proven coronary sclerosis. At our center, we provide our patients not only with a combined, novel drug therapy, but also with personalized lifestyle, dietary and psychological counselling, based on a carefully designed protocol. Our aim is to investigate to what extent this approach can reduce the incidence of calcification of the arteries in the leg, as well as the cervical and coronary arteries, in two years’ time,” emphasized Dr. Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University.

The Hungarian EU Presidency is an excellent opportunity to extend the joint, model lipid management research project by Semmelweis University and Novartis to the EU level.

“We welcome the decision by the Hungarian government to put cardiovascular healthcare as a priority on the EU agenda and to initiate the passing of EU legislation for a European-level action plan,” said Colette Matz, Country President and General Manager of Novartis Hungary. She added: “Hungary is one of the countries where we can work with the best experts. We are collaborating with Semmelweis University in a number of areas, and we are delighted to be able to support the achievement of cardiovascular health policy objectives in Hungary through research programs that identify the best possible care for people with cardiovascular disease. In addition, our screening programs also focus on prevention to help improve the health of people in Hungary.”

Novartis remains committed to creating collaborations that bring together the public and private sectors to provide effective solutions to society’s most important health problems.

Source: Novartis, Semmelweis University
Translation: Dr. Balázs Csizmadia
Photos by Bálint Barta – Semmelweis University