The purpose of this program is to continue to provide rigorous multidisciplinary basic and translational research training for physician scientists committed to careers in academic medicine and PhD postdoctoral fellows in cardiovascular biology and medicine. The rationale underlying the training program is that basic translational and clinical cardiovascular research requires investigators with a strong foundation in molecular and cellular biology and ultimately formation of multi-disciplinary research collaborations composed of MD and PhD investigators. The program is centered in the University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) which includes 180 members in 16 academic departments performing basic, translational and clinical cardiovascular investigation. Considerable infrastructural support from the School of Medicine is committed to the program including integrated basic and translational research space and core laboratory facilities in the recently constructed Penn Translational Research Center. The grant renewal will support 6 MD, MD/PhD and PhD postdoctoral fellows per year performing 2-3 years of dedicated research training. 29 NIH-funded Penn CVI faculty members in the Departments of Medicine (Cardiology and Endo/Diabetes), Surgery, Cell and Developmental Biology, Genetics, Physiology, Pharmacology and Biostatistics and Epidemiology serve as trainers and mentors. Trainees may enroll in either a Basic Research or Translational/Patient-Oriented Research Track. The core curriculum will be a well-supervised research preceptorship involving hypothesis-driven and design-driven discovery approaches to CV research. Practical research training will be supplemented by graduate and medical school class work, lectures, seminars, skill classes (medical writing, obtaining extramural support), postdoctoral career advising and courses in the ethical conduct of research. A successful strategy to attract individuals from under-represented minorities will be maintained. Internal and External Advisory Committees review trainee progress and programmatic direction. Over the past decade strong metrics for the training program, include: 1) successful recruitment of outstanding MD, MD/PhD and PhD trainees to the program, 2) >95% of trainees completing the training program (several have obtained advanced degrees, 3) an average of 5.2 manuscripts published per trainee (many in high-impact journals), 4) the vast majority of trainees obtaining academic positions or pursuing additional postdoctoral studies. Programmatic enhancements described in this application include the physical aggregation of the Penn CVI faculty trainers and trainees in the newly constructed Penn CVI and the incorporation and integration of faculty mentors in Penn's Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism as participating faculty.
In the United States there is an acute shortage of well trained MD and PhD investigators performing high impact cardiovascular research impacting on the burden of cardiovascular disease. The University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute's training program in cardiovascular biology and medicine is uniquely positioned to prepare MD and PhD postdoctoral trainees for successful careers discovering the molecular, genetic and environmental causes of cardiovascular diseases, developing strategies to prevent heart and vascular disease and developing new therapies to treat cardiovascular diseases.
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