Our commitment to translating advances in molecular and genetic medicine to patient care with appropriate statistical and epidemiologic sophistication has been central to this training program in cardiovascular epidemiology since its inception in 1984. This proposal is a competing continuation of our ongoing training program, for two predoctoral and three postdoctoral trainees who will obtain an advanced degree in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health and who will work intensively with experienced cardiovascular epidemiologists and methodologists within the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The training program will continue to be directed by Drs. Paul Ridker and Julie Buring and includes three formal components: (1) coursework leading to a master's or doctoral degree at the Harvard School of Public Health in epidemiology or public health, as appropriate given training and career goals; (2) required coursework in cardiovascular epidemiology and strongly recommended coursework in molecular and genetic epidemiology, as well as seminars on substantive areas and methodologic issues relevant to cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention; and (3) intensive population-based research experience in a variety of large-scale, team-based multidisciplinary epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials directly focused on CVD etiology, pathogenesis and prevention, leading to publication in peer-reviewed journals. Each trainee will have an individual training plan and will be assigned to a mentor team, consisting of both a senior and a junior faculty member, with ultimate oversight by Drs. Ridker or Buring. Our program also includes considerable career-counseling activities and has a longstanding commitment and track record of placing our trainees in quality long-term academic settings. An external Advisory Committee is in place, whose members represent the major outside groups with whom our trainees will work, including the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, the Division of Cardiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Framingham Heart Study, the Cardiovascular Epidemiology interest group for the degree programs at Harvard School of Public Health, and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Research activities leverage more than 25 large-scale epidemiologic studies currently and/or previously funded in the Division of Preventive Medicine. These studies include large-scale observational studies and randomized clinical trials, and their associated plasma and DNA banks. These resources will provide significant opportunities for trainees to meld the practical research techniques of large-scale epidemiology with emerging molecular and genetic approaches, with the ultimate goal of preparing trainees for success as future independent research careers. Our faculty has considerable depth and breadth of expertise ranging from statistical modeling, risk prediction, nutrition, and classical epidemiology to computational biology, genetics, and pathways analysis. We continue to have a strong commitment to working with the Harvard School of Public Health to identify, recruit and retain underrepresented minority candidates. In the last 20 years, of our 39 fellows, 9 have been underrepresented minorities, 5 Asian-American, 2 South Asian, and 19 have been women, a group that is underrepresented in the higher levels of academic medicine. We remain strongly convinced of the need for formal and rigorous training in the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease and of our particular ability to provide a high-quality research and training experience for students. For 30 years, this NHLBI funded T32 training program has been the fundamental mechanism by which promising young members of the Harvard cardiovascular community have acquired rigorous statistical and epidemiologic training. There is no other comparable training grant at Harvard Medical School or its affiliated hospitals. As demonstrated by the excellent productivity and research independence achieved by our previous trainees, we are confident that funding of this competing renewal will continue to successfully prepare future academic leaders in the fields of cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death and disability both in the US and world-wide. The overarching goal of this training program is to prepare the next generation of MD and PhD scientists whose careers as independent investigators will focus on improving our understanding of the causes, treatment strategies and prevention of CVD.
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