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 (10 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 participate in a session devoted to discussing ethical issues at the Program Annual 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.
  4. All Program trainees are required to complete at least 8 hours of in-person Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) workshops every four years. Beginning with the introductory workshop, “Identifying Issues in the Responsible Conduct of Research,” trainees can build individualized programs of RCR instruction, sampling from a wide range of one-hour workshops or following programmatic tracks offered by the RCR center: Human Participant Research (Track H), Research Integrity and Professionalism (Track I), RCR for Bench or Laboratory Scientists (Track B). Each Program trainee chooses a set of RCR workshops to attend, based on his/her research project and interests and in consultation with Dr. Shroff (Program Director), Dr. Borovetz (Chair, Trainee Admission, Evaluation, and Career Development Committee) and the RCR Center staff.
  5. All University of Pittsburgh faculty, staff, and students trainees engaged in biomedical research are required to complete a series of internet-based training modules aimed at providing the fundamentals of RCR (including conflict of interest) and maintain current certification in these modules. The specific choice of modules depends on the discipline and research activity (e.g., animal vs. human research, see https://www.orp.pitt.edu/training for details.

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. Annually, we (Dr. Shroff and/or Dr. Borovetz) have visited the following institutions to attract qualified minority candidates:

  1. University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC);
  2. University of North Carolina A&T (NC A&T), Greensborough, NC, 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.  We have consistently had trainees who are female and from underrepresented minorities participate in the program.

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