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Victoria Bautch, PhD, has supported cardiovascular research at UNC for nearly 30 years. She served as a founding member of the McAllister Heart Institute, ultimately dedicating seven years to being co-director. On June 30 she will step down from her leadership position.

“I just, I love science. I love figuring out how things work. There’s always something new to learn,” Victoria Bautch, PhD, said.

For three decades Dr. Victoria Bautch has conducted research at the University of North Carolina. Most of those years have been spent as a member of the McAllister Heart Institute (MHI), with the last seven dedicated to her role as co-director.

Dr. Bautch is preparing to step down from her leadership position on June 30. Her journey at MHI has been marked by a passion for science, a commitment to mentorship, and a vision for collaborative cardiovascular research.

Victoria Bautch, PhD

A Researcher, Leader & Mentor

As a researcher, Dr. Bautch’s early work delved into the intricate processes of blood vessel formation during fetal development, illuminating the remarkable resilience and functionality of blood vessels even in their nascent stages. Over time, her research evolved to include a focus on the complex mechanisms that regulate blood vessel growth and function in adulthood, shaping our understanding of cardiovascular biology.

Her journey with MHI began as a founding member.

“When I first came here as a junior faculty member, there was no cardiovascular institute. There were people like me already here and well, we formed the nucleus,” Dr. Bautch said.

She later transitioned into the role of associate director before assuming the mantle of co-director. During her seven-year tenure as co-director, Dr. Bautch’s contributions have been instrumental in shaping MHI into a thriving hub of interdisciplinary research.

“We have placed a strong emphasis on assembling a diverse team of basic scientists and physician scientists using a wide range of approaches to understand cardiovascular biology,” Dr. Bautch said.

“Our team includes cell biologists, pharmacists, biomedical engineers, physiologists, medical doctors and others, who are all interested in the cardiovascular field. I believe it’s really important to create pipelines to integrate these professionals and for their work to complement each other.”

This collaborative spirit has not only enriched research endeavors but has also fostered a sense of community and shared purpose among MHI members. Through initiatives such as annual retreats, lunch meetings, research symposia, and other collaborative events, Dr. Bautch has cultivated an environment where knowledge exchange and collective growth thrive.

The Lab Work Continues

As she prepares to pass on the co-directorship role, Dr. Bautch’s legacy of collaboration, mentorship, and innovation will endure. Her efforts have not only elevated UNC’s cardiovascular research profile but have also laid a strong foundation for future advancements in cardiovascular biology, treatment, and care.

Dr. Rick Stouffer, chief of the Division of Cardiology, will continue as co-director of MHI. Dr. Li Qian, current associate director of MHI, will step into Dr. Bautch’s role as co-director.

“Dr. Bautch’s leadership over the years has been a large part of the reason for MHI’s success,” Dr. Stouffer said. “She will be sorely missed but we are lucky to have someone with Dr. Qian’s talents to take on her role as co-director.”

Dr. Bautch will remain dedicated to her research at the bench where her passion for blood vessels first ignited, ensuring her fervor for discovery and mentorship inspires the next generation of leaders, particularly women, in cardiovascular research and beyond.