CVD support

NIH NRSA Institutional Training Grants
The purpose of the NIH National Research Service Awards is to provide eligible institutions with the means to support individuals, selected by the institution, who are training for careers in specified areas of biomedical and behavioral research. Four pre- and three post-doctoral trainees are supported by the program, with a strong emphasis on recruitment of minorities underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. The NRSA grants provide funds applicable to tuition, fees, health insurance and living expenses to graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.

In 1975, the Department of Epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health established the Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology program. The sixth 5-year cycle of NRSA-NHLBI support for this training program began on June 1, 2002. The goal of the program continues to be the training of innovative, and effective researchers in the field of CVD epidemiology.

The training program has developed a mix of learning opportunities for trainees, based on the continuous renewal of its research in CVD, an interdisciplinary approach and multi-institutional ties, and the commitment to prepare individuals for careers based on innovative and independent research in the epidemiology of CVD.

Seven areas of emphasis exist at present:

  • Applied training in the principles and tools of epidemiologic research
  • Non-invasive imaging in the study of atherosclerosis and its risk factors (b-mode imaging of superficial arteries), magnetic resonance imaging in the study of cerebrovascular diseases (cerebral MRI); and coronary artery calcification (CT scans)
  • Community surveillance of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, health care practices, and socio-environmental factors
  • Ethnicity and disease
  • Familial, genetic and non-genetic determinants of CVD and of their risk factors
  • Study of chronic inflammation/infection in atherosclerosis and its sequelae
  • Life Course socio-economic status and cardiovascular health
  • The training program currently includes four pre-doctoral and four post-doctoral fellows. NRSA minority fellowships are also available.

National Meetings: In addition to attendance of one scientific meeting per year supported by the Training Grant, trainees are encouraged, and supported by faculty to submit abstracts to cardiovascular epidemiology meetings (e.g., scientific sessions of the American Heart Association, and the Society of Epidemiologic Research). Provided with this range of data sources and ongoing research, trainees are able to make presentations at national meetings, be exposed to work in progress by other scientists in the field, and make professional contacts.

Research Opportunities: Trainees are encouraged as early as possible to assume lead roles in a research project, with support from their advisors. The program provides a considerable number and diversity of research opportunities to trainees. A list of currently active studies is shown below. Some are studies that have completed data collection and are at the stage of statistical analysis and publication; others maintain ongoing data collection activities in the field (in addition to analyses and publication activities). All are available and open to trainees; see contact persons on reverse.

For more information about the NRSA Institutional Grant, you can contact Nancy Colvin, Department of Epidemiology Registrar.

NIH NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowships for Minority Students
These fellowships will provide up to five years of support for research training leading to the Ph.D. or equivalent research degree; the combined M.D./Ph.D. degree; or other combined professional doctorate/research Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical or behavioral sciences. The intent of the Minority Predoctoral Fellowship Program is to encourage students from minority groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to seek graduate degrees and thus further the goal of increasing the number of minority scientists who are prepared to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral research. Application receipt deadlines are May 1 and November 15. This fellowship provides for an annual stipend to help meet the fellow’s living expenses; a tuition and fee allowance in accordance with NIH policy; and and annual institutional allowance which may be used for travel to scientific meetings, etc. The Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology program currently has one student receiving training support as an NRSA Fellow . If you would like more information, you can contact:

Phyllis Johnson
Nancy Colvin

Graduate Student Research Assistantships
Research assistantships (RAs) offer students an opportunity to gain research-related experience, develop close working relationships with faculty, and sometimes earn CO-authorship on peer-reviewed publications. Information on the type of assistantships available and how to locate them is available from Student Services. A small number of RA positions is typically available in CVD Epidemiology. Students interested in an assistantship should submit an application form (available from Student Services), and should discuss this interest with their advisors.