Despite decades of research there are still fundamental gaps in our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms that contribute to development and progression of most cardiovascular (CV) diseases, as well as the end stage clinical consequences of these diseases and how to better treat or prevent them. A central premise of this T32 cardiovascular research training program (CVTP) is that these diseases are extremely complex, and that rigorous study of them requires trainees to have a strong foundation of knowledge of basic CV physiology, developmental biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, epigenetics, pathology, systems biology, biomedical engineering, and many other disciplines. A major strength of our CVTP is that we have nearly 50 outstanding clinical, translational, and basic science mentors representing all of these areas, and we have built a unique training program over the past three decades that integrates mentoring talents into producing the best trained CV scientists possible. Our goal is to provide pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees the necessary knowledge, intellectual capabilities, technical skills, and problem-solving abilities to conduct outstanding state- of-the-art CV research employing a wide range of powerful and innovative approaches. Support is requested for 8 pre- and 8 post-doctoral fellows who represent a small fraction of a much larger cohort of CVTP trainees who are working in mentor laboratories. The program is led by Dr. Gary K. Owens and two talented Associate Directors Drs. Brant Isakson and Shayn Peirce-Cottler who are all exceptional CV researchers and mentors. Pre-doctoral trainees are selected from a large pool of outstanding trainees initially recruited into an umbrella biomedical sciences (BIMS) graduate program or the UVA MD/PhD (NIH MST) Program, whereas post- doctoral candidates are largely recruited by individual mentor labs or from one of several clinical residency- fellowship programs. After completing a highly innovative BIMS 6000 core course in integrated biology in year 01, CVTP pre-doctoral trainees take elective modular courses that are customized based on their interests and degree program. They also complete three lab rotations to aid in selection of a mentor. Only trainees who have already selected a CVTP mentor are eligible for appointment. All trainees are required to take our signature CVTP advanced courses including BIMS 8052-3 (Advanced Vascular Biology) and BIMS 8064 (a trainee-run Careers/Professionalism Course), and are also required to attend our weekly research seminars, monthly research in progress sessions, bi-annual research retreats, and to complete biomedical ethics training. The CVTP also has an exceptional grant writing program including an annual workshop and approximately 20 annual grant brewing sessions. There are many indices of the success of this program including CVTG trainees: 1) publishing many high impact first author papers including in journals such as Nature, JCI, and Circ Res; 2) having a nearly 50% success rate in securing extramural fellowships upon first submission; 3) securing high quality post-doc or faculty positions; and 4) a long term commitment to doing outstanding CV research.
/Relevance: In spite of decades of research and expenditure of billions of dollars cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death worldwide and is increasing in incidence largely as a consequence of global Westernization with subsequent epidemics in obesity, metabolic disease, and diabetes, all of which greatly exacerbate CVD. A central premise of this cardiovascular research training program (CVTP) is that these diseases are extremely complex, and that rigorous study of them requires trainees to have a strong foundation of knowledge in basic CV physiology, developmental biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, epigenetics, pathology, systems biology, biomedical engineering, and many other disciplines. The goal of this training program is to provide both pre- and post-doctoral trainees a highly integrated training experience to enable them to be facile in all of these disciplines thus uniquely enabling them to conduct pioneering studies of the pathogenesis of CVD, and to contribute to development of innovative and much more effective ways to treat or prevent them.
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