CVD Training

Program Description

The CVD Epidemiology Training Program addresses the critical need to promote epidemiological research of CVD. The primary goal of our T32 Program is to train individuals in Cardiovascular Epidemiology based on a pathophysiological understanding and experiential learning to thereby help develop in the future better prevention strategies. Our philosophy is to provide a core foundation of didactic training in Cardiovascular Epidemiology with strong methodological and quantitative skills, customized to the experience and background of each trainee.

The Training Program is organized around three research cores: 1) subclinical atherosclerosis, 2) biostatistics/epidemiological methods and 3) cardiology grounded in six areas of strength ((i) vascular aging, (ii) women's health, (iii) high risk & international populations, (iv) nutrition & environment, (v) physical activity and (vi) psychosocial factors.

Under the leadership of Dr. Akira Sekikawa and the program Co-Director (Drs. Emma Barinas-Mitchell), this program is designed to provide concentrated training in the quality collection of subclinical vascular measures, biomarkers, and CVD outcomes data and how they can be used to understand the process of atherosclerosis and CVD. Building on more than a decade of success, we are enhancing our existing training program by expanding to include Big Data, mobile Health (mHealth) and Cross-Cohort Collaboration. Doing so will position our trainees to be independent cardiovascular epidemiologists in multidisciplinary research setting competent in traditional and novel epidemiological methods in CVD.

The Training Program will continue to include 4 pre-doctoral and 2 post- doctoral positions in epidemiology. Post-doctoral trainees will consist of individuals with a PhD or MD. The training program (key components described below) consists of course work, research field work and professional development, all individually tailored to each trainee.

Key components and requirements of our program:

  1. Trainees have a primary mentor and work closely with other faculty members as well as a peer mentor who is a more experienced trainee.


  2. Complete required course work.


    • For pre-doctoral trainees complete a PhD or DrPH degree in Epidemiology which requires preparing 3 related, publishable, first-authored papers. As part of the dissertation process, trainees are usually expected to collect some original data.


    • If a post-doctoral fellow does not have a health-related degree in medicine (MD) or another area (PhD), with appropriate epidemiology content, further courses or an MS or MPH in epidemiology will be advised.


  3. Achieve close familiarity with one or more subclinical CVD measures, CVD biomarkers, or CVD outcomes to the extent that the trainee is able to use these data in a research study. Research field work may include recruitment, data collection, entry and management, study operations and data analysis, providing trainees with experience in the full range of research tasks.


  4. Develop and submit manuscripts related to research of interest.


    • For pre-doctoral trainees 3 manuscripts will be required for the doctoral dissertation. An additional 2 first or co-author manuscripts will be strongly encouraged during the training.


    • For post-doctoral trainees 1-2 first author and 1-2 co-author manuscripts per year will be strongly encouraged.


  5. Write an application for external funding related to the chosen area of research focus.


    • For pre-doctoral trainees, the department's grant writing course is required. Some pre-doctoral trainees may choose to apply for external funding (F31).


    • Post-doctoral trainees will be required to design a study that they will then include in a grant application for external funding such as a K award, or AHA grant.


  6. Develop professional skills including public speaking, networking, collaborative research, professional etiquette, and the responsible conduct of research.


  7. Attend and present research results at local and national professional meetings including the NHLBI trainee session held during AHA EPI/LIFESTYLE conference.


  8. Attend and present research results at local and national professional meetings including the NHLBI trainee session held during AHA EPI/LIFESTYLE conference.


  9. Develop teaching and mentoring skills via department courses, T32 required courses or Pitt workshops and serving as a peer mentor.


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