About the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Progam

Getting to the Heart of Research

Objectives and goals: The goal of the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP) is to provide a solid foundation upon which to build a productive independent career in cardiovascular bioengineering. This goal is accomplished via a highly coordinated and mentored interdisciplinary training program with a combination of core and elective courses, clinical internship & rotation, research activities, and specialized training opportunities to enhance professional and career development. There are three focus areas of this program:

  1. Basic understanding and quantitative characterization of native (normal and pathological conditions) and perturbed (i.e., with deployment of man-made devices or constructs) cardiovascular function at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ),

  2. Imaging for functional assessment at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), and

  3. Design and optimization of artificial devices and constructs (mechanical, tissue-engineered, and hybrid). Program coursework (12 didactic courses and several workshops) is designed to provide both breadth and depth in engineering and biological sciences and also includes a formal exposure to biostatistics, bioethics, and professional and career development issues. One novel aspect of the program is that students are required to formally participate in a clinical experience (Clinical Internship and Rotation). Finally, each student receives extensive research training in the laboratories of the training faculty. We believe the proposed program provides a unique educational and research experience with respect to basic and applied cardiovascular engineering and sciences.

Responsible conduct of science:

  1. All trainees are provided a copy of On Being A Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research (National Academy Press, 1995) and the Guidelines on Academic Integrity and Research Integrity Policy published by the University of Pittsburgh.

  2. All trainees are required to take a course in bioethics (BIOENG 2241, Societal, Political and Ethical Issues in Biotechnology) during their graduate training.

  3. All trainees have been participating in the Survival Skills and Ethics Workshop coordinated by the Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Education. Drs. Borovetz and Shroff are actively participating in this effort by serving as workshop faculty.

  4. All trainees participate in a session devoted to discussing ethical issues at the annual Program Retreat. Ethical issues are discussed in small program faculty-program trainee groups. Each group is given an ethical case study to discuss; after discussing the case, each group presents it to the whole group for general discussion.

Recruitment of trainees from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups:

We are pursuing all of the minority and women recruitment activities described in the original proposal. Over the past year, we (Dr. Shroff and/or Dr. Borovetz) have visited the following institutions to attract qualified minority candidates:

  1. University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) (November 7, 2008);

  2. University of North Carolina A&T (NC A&T), Greensborough, NC (September 16, 2008), nation's leading HBCU with respect to engineering baccalaureates and PhD degrees.

In September 2008, we (NC A&T and University of Pittsburgh) were awarded a NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) grant (Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials). As a part of this ERC effort, we have now formalized collaborative educational programs in bioengineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels with NC A&T. In addition, the School of Engineering Diversity Office recently hosted 20 minority undergraduate students (14 from UMBC; 3 Universidad del Turabo, Puerto Rico; 1 from Prairie View A&M University, TX; 1 from Jackson State University, MS; and 1 from University of Pittsburgh). Six of these 20 students were interested in the bioengineering graduate program and these students participated in our (BioE) graduate student recruitment activities on February 20, 2008, including meeting faculty and visiting various research laboratories. We hope to recruit at least 2 students from this group. We believe we have done well with respect to minority and women recruitment: out of 12 trainees during the current reporting period 4 are women (Ms. Beckman, Ms. Clause, Ms. Drummond, and Ms. Tengood) and one is from underrepresented group (Ms. Drummond, African American). In addition, we have had one Hispanic (Mr. Cordero) and one female (Ms. Uber) trainees in the prior years.