Cardiovascular (CV) epidemiology is an interdisciplinary field of work. Trainees in CV Epidemiology are encouraged to assume lead roles in a research project as early as possible, with support from their mentors. The program provides a considerable number and diversity of research opportunities to trainees. 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 (as well as analyses and publications), and still others are in development phases. All are available and open to trainees through the contact persons listed. Trainees are encouraged to submit abstracts to national meetings to present their own work, be exposed to work in progress by other scientists in the field, and to make professional contacts.

Program Courses

Related Courses

  •  EPID 733: Clinical Trials in Epidemiology (Shrikant Bangdiwala)
  • EPID 742: Integrating Biomarkers in Population-Based Research (Stephanie Engel)
  • EPID 743: Genetic Epidemiology (Kari North)
  • EPID 810: Physical Activity Epidemiology (Dianne Ward/Derek Hales)
  • EPID 992: Master’s Paper (Faculty)
  • EPID 994: Doctoral Dissertation (Faculty)

Ongoing Support

Cardiovascular Epidemiology Seminar Series meets Tuesdays, 12:30-1:30 pm, 0001 Michael Hooker Research Center.

Peer-led CV epidemiology research workshop meets twice a month, rotating days/times. See additional information, below.

The CV Epidemiology Journal Club meets on the second Friday of the month, 10-11 AM in Suite 32 Conference Room, CVS Building, Franklin Street. See additional information, below.

Genetic Journal Club, meets first Wednesday of month from 12:15-1:00 pm

UNC and Cambridge CV EPID Partnership – Trainee exchange, timing and duration vary

Core Faculty – Research Projects

Dr. Christy Avery: Enumerating Community Burden of Heart Failure; Genetics of Electrocardiographic Traits; Prospective Meta-Analyses of Drug-Gene Interactions.

Dr. Kelly Evenson: MESA Ancillary Study of Neighborhood Environment and CVD; NHANES physical activity and CVD mortality; Physical Activity Policy Research Network; PIN3 Study; Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) – physical activity.

Dr. Nora Franceschini: Epidemiology of chronic kidney disease in postmenopausal women; Gene X Arsenic interaction for type 2 diabetes; Gene X Lifestyle interactions for blood pressure and lipids traits; Genetics of reproductive traits; Genetics of kidney and blood pressure traits; Genomewide Association studies (ARIC, WHI, HCSH/SOL); Strong Heart Study.

Dr. Misa Graf: Genetics of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk traits with an overarching goal of integrating our understanding of both genetic and environmental risk factors for disease, particularly among minority populations.

Dr. Gerardo Heiss: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC); ARIC Neurocognitive Study; Heart Rate Variability; Hispanic Community Health Study-Study of Latinos; Life Course SES; Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) – main study.

Dr. Laura Loehr: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC); Atrial Fibrillation Study; Hispanic Community Health Study-Study of Latinos.

Dr. Anna Kucharska-Newton: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC); Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Center (CORC); Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) – outcomes.

Dr. Kari North: CALiCo (gene x environment studies); Genetic Architecture of Adiposity in Multiple Cohorts; Leveraging Ancestry to Map Obesity Genes in Hispanics; Genetic and Metabolic Disease in Obesity; Genetics of Coronary and Aortic Calcification; Genomewide Association studies (ARIC, WHI, HCSH/SOL); Family Heart Study (FHS); HyperGEN (Genetic Determinants of High Blood Pressure); National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health); Strong Heart Study.

Dr. Wayne Rosamond: Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC); Cardiovascular Research Network Surveillance; Comprehensive Post-Acute Stroke Services (COMPASS) study; Emergency Medicine and Stroke Registry Linkage; Hispanic Community Health Study-Study of Latinos; Longitudinal Investigation of Venous Thromboembolism (LITE); North Carolina Stroke Care Collaborative; North Carolina Rapid Response to Stroke Project; Obesity and Gastric Bypass Study; Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) – heart failure.

Dr. Eric Whitsel: Ambient Air Pollution and Incident Stroke; Environmental Epidemiology of Arrhythmogenesis in WHI; Modification of PM-Mediated Arrhythmogenesis in Populations; Epigenetic Mechanisms of PM-Mediated CVD Risk; Genetics of Electrocardiographic Traits; Heart Rate Variability; Hispanic Community Health Study-Study of Latinos; National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health); Prospective Meta-Analyses of Drug-Gene Interactions.

Collaborative Groups at UNC (selected)

Carolina Population Center

Departments of:  Biostatistics, City and Regional Planning, Dentistry, Emergency Medicine, Medicine, Neurology, Nephrology, Nutrition

Additional Information

Cardiovascular Additional Information


Alumni of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology program take a variety of professional positions in the academic, governmental and private sectors. These include:

  • Product Analyst, A4 Health Systems
  • Research Associate, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health
  • Associate Professor, Colorado State University, Department of Health and Exercise Science
  • Senior Statistician, Duke Clinical Research Institute
  • Assistant Research Professor, Duke University, Duke Center for Aging
  • Internal Medicine Resident, Duke University
  • Therapeutic Epidemiologist, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, GlaxoSmithKline, Inc.
  • Epidemiology Manager, Worldwide Epidemiology, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Statistical Analyst, Houston Center for Quality and Care and Utilization Studies
  • Assistant Professor, Medical University of South Carolina
  • Assistant Professor, North Carolina Central University, Department of Health Education
  • Assistant Professor, Northwestern University, Department of Preventive Medicine
  • Research and Publications Coordinator, Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute
  • Research Scientist, Pediatric Research and Development, Abbott Laboratories, Inc.
  • Research Scientist, Rho Federal Systems Division, Inc.
  • Instructor, Skagit Valley Community College, Department of Social Sciences
  • Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Department of Epidemiology
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, University of North Carolina, Department of Epidemiology
  • Research Associate Professor, University of North Carolina, Department of Epidemiology
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina, School of Medicine
  • Associate Professor, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics,
  • Epidemiologist, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research


Currently, the Cardiovascular (CV) Epidemiology Program is home to 15 students, who come to this program from diverse backgrounds. In addition to the coursework indicated by their degree program, students participate in multiple activities organized by the CV Epidemiology Program, including a Peer-Led Workshop, Journal Club, and the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Seminar. Students can choose to conduct their dissertation research within a broad scope of research interests represented by the CV Epidemiology faculty and collaborators. Additionally, students have the opportunity to work with CV Epidemiology faculty members as Graduate Research Assistants. Pre-doctoral students are encouraged to submit abstracts to national meetings and are mentored in publishing their work.

Following are representative examples of doctoral dissertation research topics developed by CV Epidemiology students:

  • Community patterns of acute myocardial infarction and surviva
  • Choline/Betaine habitual intake and incident coronary heart disease in women
  • Association of obstructive airway disease and lung function with incident heart failure
  • Genotype-by-smoking interaction and the risk of atherosclerosis and its clinical sequelae
  • The association of overweight and obesity with arterial elasticity
  • Patterns of medical care after a myocardial infarction

The CV Epidemiology Program supports four postdoctoral fellows each year. Fellows are encouraged to submit multiple publications, engage in collaborative work, and submit applications for funding.

For further inquiries, please contact Crystal Daniel cdaniel1@email.unc.edu

Financial 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 Valerie Hudock, 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
Valerie Hudock

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.

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