Cardiovascular diseases and their complications are leading causes of death and disability in the United States. The health implications of surgical cardiovascular disease create a strong need for surgical research. Unfortunately, graduates of cardiovascular surgery training programs face steep challenges to establishing re- search careers. Taking advantage of our position in the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, we propose atpostdoctoral training program in cardiovascular surgical research that will: (1) increase the pool of MDs and PhDs who enter cardiovascular surgical research careers, and (2) provide our trainees with the skills necessary to be successful and productive in cardiovascular research. We propose to achieve these goals through accepting two trainees per year (MD surgery residents or PhDs) into three training tracks, each two years in duration: bioengineering and biodesign, basic and translational research, and clinical and outcomes research. Trainees can pursue diverse research career training opportunities?ranging from qualita- tive patient-centered outcomes research to a molecular exploration of cardiac myocyte regeneration?yet in all cases the focus is on addressing a clinical problem relevant to cardiovascular surgeons. In order to provide a range of training opportunities, we have recruited 20 mentors from Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), Rice University, and the University of Houston. [Our mentors collectively have over $16.2 million in research funding and have trained over 240 postdoctoral fellows over the past 10 years.] Within the three training tracks, the 20 mentors are grouped into specific themes, such as ?aortic disease,? based on their expertise and existing col- laborative relationships. Each track allows trainees to complete a degree, such as a Master in Clinical Re- search, through an established graduate program in the Texas Medical Center. Our program director is Todd Rosengart, MD, Chair of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at BCM; co-directors are Scott Le- Maire, MD, Vice Chair for Research, and Barbara Trautner, MD, PhD, Director of Clinical Research. Our lead- ership will be supported by an Executive Steering Committee and five subcommittees: Selection, Curriculum, Individual Development, Program Evaluation, and Faculty Evaluation. The Executive Steering Committee will also receive input from an External Advisory Committee composed of three surgeons who have all directed T32 training programs. [Our highly competitive applicant pool includes 2,587 MD or combined degree appli- cants to our general surgery residency research track and 152 PhD postdoctoral research applicants to our mentors' departments at BCM, Rice University, and the University of Houston (numbers from 2017).] In order to ensure diversity among our trainees, we have enlisted the support of the BCM Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion to help during residency interview days and to participate in our Selection Committee. Taken to- gether, we believe these qualifications provide an ideal opportunity for our program to enhance the pool of highly qualified MDs and PhDs contributing to the high-impact arena of research in cardiovascular surgery.
Cardiovascular diseases include some of the major causes of death in the United States population: heart at- tacks, strokes, and diabetic foot ulcers. Many of these illnesses can be prevented or managed with surgery. Training investigators in surgical cardiovascular research is essential to ensure that people receive the best possible care for these conditions.