Graduate Training in Translational Science and Cardiovascular Research

Sponsored by: A Ruth L. Kirschtein NRSA Training Grant (T-32) Award from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD.

Principal Investigator: Nabil Alkayed, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Research, OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute.

Program overview

The NIH-sponsored training program for Translational Science and Cardiovascular Research at the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute is dedicated to the advanced specialty research training of physician-scientists and basic scientists. The program funds a total of six positions (M.D., D.O., or Ph.D.) for a two-year research experience in translational cardiovascular research (see faculty).

The aim of the program is to provide laboratory research training and mentoring that will establish the basis for a successful career as an independent investigator in an academic institution. Laboratory research will be supplemented with course work and scientific seminars. Unique aspects of the program include provision of individualized curriculum and career development, and the team-approach to mentoring that include both basic and clinical scientists. Our goal is to produce scientists with a broad outlook and a focus on bringing science to the benefit of patients.

Areas of research focus

The program includes three broad and overlapping scientific areas of cardiovascular research. Training is enhanced by the opportunity to learn and apply state-of-the-art imaging modalities (MRI, PET, CT, angiography, ultrasound, OCT, two-photon microscopy) to small and large animal models of cardiovascular disease, as well as humans. Didactic education includes courses on the pathophysiology and molecular genetics of cardiovascular disease, translation research methods, research design, and data analysis. Fellows also undergo training in responsible conduct for research, leadership, team science, scientific writing and grantsmanship.

Cardiovascular development, genetics and genomics

A major research group within the Knight Cardiovascular Institute is the Center for Developmental Health (CDH; Director – Kent Thornburg), which consists of more than sixty scientists across OHSU who study the developmental origins of health and disease. The scientific foundation of the center is based on the epidemiological observations that low birth weight and maternal nutrition are highly correlated with CVD, type 2 diabetes and obesity in the offspring. The group conducts research related to fetal programming and the genetic and epigenetic roots of cardiovascular disease. Other investigations study adult congenital heart disease, aortic aneurysms, hERG channelopathy, and vascular cell profiling using proteomics and single-cell genomics.

Cardiovascular inflammation, diabetes and atherosclerosis

Faculty in this group mostly belong to two KCVI research centers: the Center for Preventive Cardiology (CPC; Director – Sergio Fazio) and the Division of Cardiometabolic Health at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (CMH ONPRC). The CPC conducts basic, translational and clinical research aimed at understanding the mechanistic genetic and biochemical underpinnings of atherosclerosis, and advancing preventive cardiovascular medicine by developing and evaluating novel therapies and diagnostic methods for cholesterol and coronary disease. The CMH at ONPRC is focused on research efforts in both cardiovascular disease and what has been cumulatively referred to as metabolic diseases, which includes diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance. Broadly speaking, investigators in this group have expertise in atherosclerosis and cholesterol trafficking, diabetes, obesity. 

Cardiovascular regulation, ischemia and hypertension

Within this broad area, KCVI is focusing on physiological regulation and dysregulation in cardiovascular disease. The work of this group is characterized by studies on mechanisms governing vascular function, including physiological control, cellular signaling and molecular regulation. The work also includes studies on the renal and central nervous system regulatory mechanisms of blood pressure and hypertension, mechanisms of acute ischemic injury in heart and brain, and pathophysiological mechanisms predisposing to chronic neurodegenerative changes in brain and heart. While organ systems are different among these scientists, the common theme of this group is control systems and how dysfunction in these systems contributes to human disease.

Program faculty and administration

Program Director: Nabil Alkayed, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Research, OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute 
Associate Director: Monica Hinds, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, OHSU School of Medicine
Program Coordinator: Hope Phillips, M.S., OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute 

Application process

Applications are due April 15th and must include the following components:

•    Curriculum vitae
•    Personal statement that describes research and career goals
•    Two additional letters of recommendation
•    Medical school or graduate school transcript (for external candidates only)

After identifying a faculty mentor additional components will be requested including:  

•    Research plan (5 pages maximum not including references)
•    Letter from proposed research mentor that includes mentoring plan and resources

Please send completed applications by email to

Selection process

Applications will be judged based on evidence of interest in research, research aptitude, desire to pursue an academic career, interest in translational research and general fit for the research program.

External candidates with a high likelihood for entrance into the program will be asked to interview at OHSU. Three trainees will be accepted per year. Late applications may be considered if space is available.

Admission requirement

•    Trainees must have a graduate degree (M.D., D.O., Ph.D., D.V.M., Pharm.D., D.D.S., etc.).
•    Trainees must either be a United States citizen or permanent residents.

OHSU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.