University of Wisconsin–Madison

Training Program Background

The UW Cardiovascular Research Center’s Training Program in Translational Cardiovascular Science is diverse in terms of the research disciplines of the trainers and in the career pathways, research disciplines, and stages of training of the trainees. This diversity provides the training program with important strengths. The research disciplines of the faculty bring a wide range of viewpoints and potential experimental approaches to the problems of cardiovascular diseases.

Diversity in the trainee population, including clinically-oriented trainees such as physicians-in-training, and more purely basic science oriented trainees such as predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees, contributes to the breadth of interests that are required for training in translational research.

The program provides basic research training of clinically-trained individuals while at the same time providing Ph.D. trainees with the background and experiences to undertake clinically-motivated research. The inclusion in the training program of short- term research experiences for physicians-in-training (residents and clinical fellows) is a strategy designed to attract and sustain the basic research interests of clinicians who may otherwise be drawn away from basic research during their years of clinical training.

The research activities of the faculty in this training program can be categorized into three general areas of cardiovascular research, with support from a fourth area, cell biology, which transcends these focus areas:

  1. Ion Channels/Arrhythmias: This area encompasses the clinical problems of arrhythmia and sudden death. At the basic level it includes the study of ion channels in the heart as well as the nervous system, and the formation and conduction of electrical impulses.
  2. Contractility/Heart Failure: This area encompasses the clinical problems of cardiomyopathy and survival of tissue after myocardial infarction. At the basic level it includes excitation-contraction coupling, mechanisms and regulation of contraction, and factors that determine cell viability.
  3. Vascular Biology/Atherosclerosis: This area encompasses the clinical problems of vascular disease such as atherosclerosis and preventive medicine. At the basic level it includes the study of molecular and cellular properties that affect vascular regulation.
  4. Cell Biology/Stem Cells: This area encompasses diverse clinical problems, such as myocardial involvement in Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, and includes those cellular and sub-cellular processes that have broad application to cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology. It also involves all three focus areas named above. Such processes include signal transduction including receptors and second messengers, regulation of transcription and expression, and other cell processes including transmembrane and cytoskeletal communication pathways.