CANDIDATE: Dr. Maria Odette Gore is a board certified cardiologist and clinical investigator with a strong research interest in preventive cardiology and commitment to academic medicine. She completed Cardiology Research training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) on the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Research Pathway, and accepted a full-time faculty position in the Division of Cardiology at UTSW on September 1, 2015. During residency and fellowship, Dr. Gore?s mentored research projects focused on several aspects related to cardiovascular disease prevention, resulting in the publication of >25 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious journals and 2 book chapters (total 14 first-author publications). During fellowship, Dr. Gore also completed a Master of Science in Clinical Science program at UTSW, served as an ad-hoc reviewer for many journals and as an abstract grader for four American Heart Association (AHA) conferences, and was the recipient of the 2013 Women in Cardiology Trainee Award for Excellence from the AHA. Key projects that Dr. Gore led or participated in during fellowship include analyses of cardiac biomarkers in large population-based cohorts; registry-based and population-based cohort studies on the association between diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease; and a two-phase pilot study exploring the community blood donation program as portal for cardiovascular risk factor screening, with potential for intervention. The present proposal represents a logical continuation of this latest study, as well as a conduit for further essential training in community health and prevention research, health communication science, advanced clinical research methods, and research leadership and grant writing strategies. The PI?s long-term career goal is to become a recognized leader and innovator in patient-oriented research in the field of cardiovascular (CV) disease prevention. In the medium-term, her goal is to become an independent, R01-funded investigator contributing to the development of novel approaches to CV disease risk assessment, risk communication, and primary and secondary prevention. For the short-term, this proposal outlines clear training and research objectives which will be achieved through structured learning, including courses and workshops, and further hands-on research apprenticeship with an outstanding team of highly accomplished, extramurally-funded mentors, advisors and consultants. Attainment of these objectives will be a crucial stepping-stone for Dr. Gore?s future success as independent investigator. ENVIRONMENT: The PI works at one the top academic medical centers in the country, with 6 Nobel Prize winners (more than any other medical school in the world), and more than $400 million in annual research funding for over 3,500 research projects. The primary mentor for this project is Dr. James de Lemos, a recognized leader in the field with an outstanding mentorship track record. Dr. Gore and Dr. de Lemos have already developed a strong mentor-mentee relationship, with 12 peer-reviewed articles co-authored prior to this proposal. The PI?s co-mentors are Dr. Jarett Berry and Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, who are both extramurally-funded independent investigators working in complementary areas related to the PI's area of interest. In addition, a strong multidisciplinary team of senior research advisors has been assembled to oversee and guide the PI?s research and career development. The PI will benefit from unlimited access to and support from a highly skilled statistician, will participate and present in several research meetings held regularly in the Division of Cardiology and the Department of Clinical Sciences, and will have numerous opportunities for intellectual interactions with investigators within and outside Cardiology. The institution has pledged 75% protected time for the PI?s research and career development activities throughout the duration of this K23. PROPOSED RESEARCH: A vital component of primary CV disease prevention is the detection and control of major CV risk factors, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes. In aggregate, approximately 45% of the entire U.S. adult population is affected by one, or more, of these 3 risk factors, and at least one of these risk factors remains undiagnosed in more than one third of cases, reflecting an important detection gap in the community. To help close this gap, the PI completed and published a two-phase pilot study screening blood donors, in collaboration with the largest independent blood program in Texas. The research proposed in this K23 is a logical continuation of this published work, and aims to (Aim 1) Test the hypothesis that the prevalence of undetected (undiagnosed) risk factors among blood donors is similar to existing estimates of undetected risk factor prevalence in the general population, after accounting for any differences in socio- demographic factors;
(Aim 2) Develop, pre-test and optimize a multi-component, multi-platform ehealth intervention to communicate screening test results and promote health awareness and healthy behaviors among blood donors;
(Aim 3) Conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial testing the hypothesis that the new ehealth intervention developed in Aim 2 can improve risk factor awareness and promote healthy behavioral changes among blood donors participating in the screening program. The proposed research will advance the field by opening up the way to novel, highly efficient and cost-effective strategies for population screening and primary CV disease prevention.

Public Health Relevance

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, but is to a large degree preventable if people are aware of their heart disease risk and take appropriate measures to decrease this risk, such as adopting more heart-healthy behaviors and seeing a healthcare professional to get treatment if treatment is indicated. Many people have increased risk for heart disease because of high cholesterol, high blood pressure or high blood sugar without knowing it, and the purpose of this research is to measure these in volunteer blood donors, develop a new way of informing people about their heart disease risk using the latest technologies, and test whether this new way of delivering information can reduce the risk of heart disease in some people. Because blood is collected anyway during the blood donation process and measurements use the same infrastructure, this research may establish a new, low-cost way of detecting people who are not aware of their increased heart disease risk, and of helping those people decrease their risk, which could have a major impact on public health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
NHLBI Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Review Committee (MPOR)
Program Officer
Einhorn, Paula T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Denver Health and Hospital Authority
United States
Zip Code