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Research Training

ResearchA central mission of the BIDMC Cardiovascular Division is providing our fellows with opportunities to train in the full spectrum of research - from basic mechanistic studies to clinical trials.

During the first year, fellows are assigned faculty mentors who help them to identify areas of interest and potential research preceptors. In addition to the programs outlined below, fellows have access to an almost limitless array of research opportunities in the broader BIDMC community, as well as through Harvard Medical School, Harvard University and other Boston-area biomedical institutions.

Basic and Translational Research. In 2006, Dr. Anthony Rosenzweig joined BIDMC as Director of Cardiovascular Research, overseeing a world-renowned program. Collectively, BIDMC's Research enterprise consistently ranks in the top four in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding among independent hospitals nationwide and in total, research at BIDMC is a $200 million enterprise.

The recent recruitment of new faculty, together with the research program's upcoming move to the new Center for Life Science (CLS) building (a 350,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility that will become the largest research building in Boston's Longwood Medical Area) herald an exciting period for biomedical research at BIDMC.

Dr. Rosenzweig's laboratory has focused on the use of genetic models - both through somatic gene transfer and germline manipulation - to address important questions relevant to heart failure and atherosclerotic vascular disease. (Dr. Rosenzweig's was the first laboratory to use somatic gene transfer to create models of heart failure and to document the feasibility of manipulating global ventricular function through in vivo cardiac gene transfer.) A growing interest in the Rosenzweig laboratory is the intersection of pro-survival signaling pathways with those controlling cardiac metabolism, for which BIDMC is the recipient of a recently funded grant from the international LeDucq Foundation Network of Research Excellence.

Other established cardiovascular research laboratories include those of Dr. J. Peter Oettgen, part of BIDMC's Center for Vascular Biology Research, which looks at the transcriptional regulation of vascular development, angiogenesis and vascular inflammation; Dr. Francine Welty who, as director of a Specialized Center of Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR) program in Vascular Injury, Repair and Remodeling investigates the role of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance with their proinflammatory milieu in the development of atherosclerosis; Dr. Peter Kang, whose lab is investigating the role of cardiac apoptosis to the progression of heart failure; Dr. Richard Verrier, who uses integrative physiological studies to investigate the mechanisms of arrhythmia in animal models; Dr. Jian Li, whose laboratory focuses on the molecular mediators of angiogenesis and the role of master switch molecules in angiogenesis and apoptosis; and Dr. Roger Laham, whose translational research includes studies of angiogenic growth factors, catheter-based tissue transplantation and endothelial biology. In addition, newly recruited research faculty include Drs. Takashi Matsui, Maria Kontaridis, Zolt Arany, Federica del Monte and Heather Duffy, who bring to BIDMC a wide range of research interests, from signal transduction and transcriptional regulation to calcium handling and electrophysiology.

Harvard Clinical Research Institute. Collaboration with biostatisticians, epidemiologists, decision and cost effectiveness analysts, and clinical trialists is available at the Harvard Clinical Research Institute (HCRI), an academic contract research organization specializing in the design and coordination of multicenter clinical trials as well as analysis of clinical research data from a wide variety of clinical disciplines (with special emphasis and expertise in cardiovascular diseases). A joint venture of Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Partners Healthcare, HCRI has conducted over 100 national and international medical device, pharmaceutical and biological trials, many leading to FDA approval for novel therapies (including intravascular brachytherapy, drug-eluting stents, and distal-embolic protection devices). The institute is administered by Dr. Donald Cutlip and Dr. Kalon Ho at BIDMC and Dr. Richard Kuntz at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Also active in HCRI is Dr. C. Michael Gibson. An interventional cardiologist, Dr. Gibson is Director of Core Services at the TIMI (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction) Study Group.

Framingham Heart Study. This NHLBI (National Heart Lung Blood Institute) sponsored project is the world's largest and longest running prospective cardiovascular disease epidemiology study. New technologies have been introduced in recent years including M-mode, 2-D, and Doppler echocardiography, Holter monitoring for arrhythmia and ST segments, computerized 12-lead ECGs, ambulatory blood pressure measurements and carotid ultrasonography. Data from these are part of a correlated database that includes up to 40 years of information. Current research includes: incidence, prevalence and prognosis of atrial fibrillation; exercise treadmill results as predictive of coronary disease; blood pressure response to exercise as predictive of left ventricular hypertrophy; arrhythmias on ambulatory ECG monitoring (impact of age and sex); left ventricular mass and risk for sudden death; left ventricular mass and risk for stroke; determinants of diastolic left ventricular function; characterization of echo patterns in subjects with congestive heart failure; prevalence of ultrasound documented carotid disease in subjects with MI; and differences in early and late death from coronary disease in men vs. women.

Harvard School of Public Health. Over one dozen fellows from the Cardiovascular Division have participated in the Program for Training in Clinical Effectiveness at the Harvard School of Public Health during the last decade. Seven-week, intensive sessions designed for physicians are offered in July and August with introductory and advanced courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, decision analysis, clinical trials, measurement techniques, outcomes analyses, quality improvement, and health services research. Fellows who wish to receive a Masters degree (MSc or MPH) can do so by attending classes full-time during two summers and/or part-time during the academic year. A parallel, non-degree granting summer program is also available through the Summer Institute at the School of Public Health. Dr. Murray Mittleman, Codirector of Cardiac Epidemiology and Clinical Trials at BIDMC, has an appointment at the Harvard School of Public Health and directs the MPH program there.

The Harvard-Thorndike Electrophysiology Institute and Arrhythmia Service. Research studies include the basic science and clinical investigation of risk stratification for sudden cardiac death. Novel strategies such as T-wave alternans heterogeneity tests were developed by Dr. Richard Verrier, who is working with Dr. Mark Josephson to develop a QRS heterogeneity profile which will allow simultaneous conduction and recovery to be assessed as a marker of risk. Dr. Josephson is studying the porcine model of infarction using epicardial and endocardial mapping to assess arrhythmogenic substrate. Dr. Verrier's animal laboratory is available for whole animal experimentation in arrhythmogenesis. In addition, Dr. Verrier is studying pericardial delivery of antiarrhythmic, anti-ischemic and angiogenic factors and prevention of sudden cardiac death in coronary artery disease with ablation techniques and substrate mapping. Collaboration occurs with Drs. Susan Yeon and Warren Manning in cardiac MR to develop cutting-edge imaging methods to define the electrophysiologic substrate of ventricular arrhythmia.

Pfizer Clinical Investigator Training Program. The Pfizer Clinical Investigator Training Program (CITP), administered jointly by the Clinical Research Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Health Sciences and Technology Division (HST) of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), funds clinical research projects conducted by senior fellows from medical and surgical specialties. Fellows who successfully compete for these two year grants are expected to devote the majority of their third and fourth year fellowships to the proposed project as well as attend didactic sessions every week and during the summer. Topics covered vary from basic science subjects (e.g., genetic engineering techniques, pharmacokinetics of insulin) to regulatory issues (e.g., FDA drug approval, ethics of human experimentation) to analytical techniques (e.g., study design, biostatistics). A Masters degree from MIT may be obtained upon completion of the CITP Fellowship. Five fellows from the Cardiovascular Division have been recipients of the CITP Fellowships.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
185 Pilgrim Road
Boston, MA 02215