This is a new program to train the next generation of scientists in the fields of hypertension and blood pressure regulation. These conditions represent enormous health care problems. The new American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Guidelines now classify almost 50% of the adult population as being hypertensive. Autonomic dysfunction, manifested by syncope, presyncope and postural intolerance, becomes increasingly common with age and is terribly disabling. Despite the commonality of these disorders, their precise etiology remains poorly defined. Moreover, they often associated with and share underlying mechanisms with other cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. It is therefore mandatory that we train and develop outstanding scientists to pursue these related areas of investigation. We propose to ultimately include 4 post-doctoral fellows and 2 predoctoral graduate students in Vanderbilt Hypertension and Blood Pressure Regulation (VHBPR) program. These trainees will be involved in three related facets of research. One has to do with understanding mechanisms of hypertension and end organ damage and the role inflammation and immune activation. Members of the VHBPR have led the field in defining mechanisms of immune activation in hypertension and related fields and this has evolved into a new understanding of the vascular, renal and cerebral dysfunction and damage that occurs in this and associated cardiovascular illnesses. Trainees involved in these programs will become familiar with an emerging area of immunology as it pertains to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. The second important area of investigation is conducted by our Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center. This center performs translational research involving laboratory, animal and clinical research. A third major area of investigation relates to bioinformatics of hypertension and drug responses. These studies are greatly facilitated by the BioVu database (the Vanderbilt DNA database) that contains DNA for >300,000 patients and the Synthetic derivative (de-identified medical records linked to BioVu) and are facilitated by our Division of Genetic Medicine and Center for Personalized Medicine. Our trainees will have the opportunity to initiate studies on medication-resistant hypertension, as more than 15,000 BioVU subjects with documented medication-resistant hypertension will have genome interrogation completed by 2018, including a large number of African American subjects. In addition to these laboratory research experiences, the VHBPR program includes seminars, didactic lectures and specialized course work devoted to career development, leadership, responsible conduct of research and work life balance. In addition to this core curriculum, trainees in specialized areas will participate in tailored coursework and workshops related to their specific areas of investigation. The ultimate goal is to train successful scientists that will successfully compete for future funding and who can pursue successful academic careers.
Hypertension and autonomic dysfunction represent enormous health care burdens in the United States, affecting almost 50% of the population. Despite the common nature of these disorders, their causes remain poorly understood and treatment is not always successful. We propose to train highly qualified young scientists to pursue these are areas of research in the decades to come, ultimately to improve human health and well-being.