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Classics in Global Medicine

Legacy of MESA


Jean L. Olson,

Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, US
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Diane E. Bild,

Clinical Effectiveness Research Department, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Washington, DC, US
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Richard A. Kronmal,

Department of Biostatistics, Collaborative Health Studies Coordinating Center, Seattle, WA, US
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Gregory L. Burke

Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, US
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The MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) was initiated to address unresolved questions about subclinical cardiovascular disease and its progression to clinically overt cardiovascular disease in a diverse population-based sample, incorporating emerging imaging technologies for better evaluation of subclinical disease and creating a population laboratory for future research. MESA’s recruited (from 2000 to 2002) cohort comprised >6,000 adults from 4 racial/ethnic groups, ages 45 to 84 years, who were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. Extensive cohort data have been collected over 5 exams (through 2011) with additional exam components added through extramurally funded ancillary study grants, and through regular phone follow-up contacts. Over 1,000 MESA papers have been published to date. Exam 6 will incorporate components that use novel wearable, imaging, and other technologies to address new research questions. MESA investigators have and continue to seek opportunities for collaboration with other researchers on a wide variety of topics to further expand the science of MESA.


  • MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) has published >1,000 papers over its 16-year history.
  • MESA has evolved from a focus on cardiovascular disease to include a variety of other topics.
  • MESA faces challenges following an aged cohort but has methods to address them.
  • Data sharing and collaborating with other studies extend MESA’s data and findings.
How to Cite: Olson JL, Bild DE, Kronmal RA, Burke GL. Legacy of MESA. Global Heart. 2016;11(3):269–74. DOI:
Published on 01 Sep 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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