CVD Training

About Us

The training program is organized around four major research strengths: vascular aging; women's health; high risk populations (e.g. Diabetes); international populations and genetics. Technology is constantly changing, requiring new protocols to match the capabilities of new equipment. This program is designed to provide concentrated training in the quality collection of subclinical atherosclerosis measures and how they can be used to understand the process of atherosclerosis.

The training program is organized around four major research strengths: vascular aging, women’s health, high risk and international populations and genetics. The unifying theme is the application of subclinical atherosclerosis measures to each research area. Core strengths in nutrition, exercise, biostatistics, multi-center collaborations and psychosocial measures are also integrated into the program. This interconnected set of resources will provide a rich substrate upon which the trainees will develop.

Trainees will have a primary mentor and will also work closely with other faculty members as well as a peer mentor who is a more experienced trainee. The training program consists of course work, research field work and professional development , all individually tailored to each trainee. Research field work includes recruitment, data collection, entry and management, study operations and data analysis, providing trainees with experience in the full range of research tasks. Professional development activities include focused work with subclinical measures, completion of an independent research project, a remote training experience, grant writing experience, manuscript preparation, participation in national conferences, skill development workshops and training in the responsible conduct of research. Trainees will also have the opportunity to develop laboratory-based and analytical skills in genetic epidemiology. The program is designed to produce investigators skilled in a multidisciplinary approach to cardiovascular research, who are comfortable with using subclinical measures in cross-discipline collaborations and who have the skills to develop new measurement protocols.

Importance of Subclinical Atherosclerosis Measures: Atherosclerosis develops over a period of many years, yet because symptoms occur late in the disease process, patients are often not identified until endpoints such as myocardial infarction and stroke have occurred. Identifying atherosclerosis at its early stages can open a window-of-opportunity for primary prevention. These measures allow researchers to study the full range of disease from the very early functional stages through the point where clinical intervention is required.

The training program is organized around four major research strengths: vascular aging; women's health; high risk populations (e.g. Diabetes); international populations and genetics. This includes carotid intima-media thickness {1;2}, coronary calcification{3;4;5}, aortic calcification (based on x-ray) {6} and aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) {7;8;9}. In addition, subclinical measures are a key tool when investigating the etiology of atherosclerosis in high-risk populations. Most if not all cohort studies with a CVD component include some sort of subclinical disease measure.

The technical, methodological and biological aspects underlying some of these measures are complex. Their successful implementation requires many skills that are not routinely covered as part of clinical or public health training. Thus, the specific aims of this application are to produce Investigators:
  • With outstanding skills in epidemiology and biostatistics with particular emphasis on the application of methods needed to address important research questions in CVD epidemiology.
  • With the professional skills required to become successful investigators. This includes public speaking, writing (manuscripts as well as grants), supervisory and management skills, experience with budgets and staff hiring and teaching and mentoring skills.
  • With the skills needed to develop new subclinical measurement protocols and to adapt existing protocols to challenging populations (e.g. pediatric populations or populations with Class II obesity
  • With the skills to successfully monitor ongoing quality control of subclinical disease measures in both single center and multi-center environments.
  • With a multidisciplinary outlook and the ability to integrate science across disciplines so as to develop cutting-edge approaches to the use of subclinical measures in further defining the etiology of CVD.
  • Who are comfortable with using subclinical measures in cross-discipline and cross-institution collaborations.
Technology is constantly changing, requiring the continual development of new protocols to match the capabilities of new equipment. There is a need to ensure that there is a “next generation� of researchers capable of both implementing existing measures and developing new protocols as technology evolves.