Hypertension and Cardiorenal Diseases Research Training Program

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Brief History and Outcomes of Hypertension and Cardiorenal Diseases Training at UMMC

There has been a long history of cardiovascular research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Much of this research was initially conducted in the Department of Physiology under the leadership of Dr. Arthur C. Guyton. Over the last several decades both basic, clinical, and population research on hypertension and cardio-renal diseases has expanded in various School of Medicine departments and centers and most recently in our new School of Population Health(SOPH). UMMC also has a history of involvement in several major cardiovascular related longitudinal cohort studies funded by the NHLBI including the Jackson Heart Study (JHS), the largest community-based cohort of African Americans investigating CVD since 2000 in over 5300 participants.  UMMC is also a major partner and Jackson is a recruitment site for the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, a biracial cohort with broad cardiovascular outcomes for over 25 years.  The Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal Study (RURAL) is a new 6-year cohort study (~4000 participants) to determine why people in the South live shorter and less healthy lives. 

The HCDR Training Program not only capitalizes on the expertise of a strong group of basic science and clinical investigators in the field of cardiovascular and renal research at UMMC but also the resources provided by these established and productive research laboratories.  CRRC core facilities as well as our NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) funded core facilities in the Cardiorenal and Metabolic Diseases Research Center, Mississippi Center of Excellence in Perinatal Research,  Molecular Center of Health and Disease and the Mississippi Center for Clinical and Translational Research provide a pipeline of junior investigators mentors and access to state-of -the-art facilities for our trainees.

Many of our former trainees have obtained leadership positions in medical institutions throughout the world and in major scientific societies, including:

  • More than 30 departmental chairmen
  • Eight presidents of the American Physiological Society
  • One president of the American Heart Association
  • Two presidents of Inter-American Society of Hypertension
  • Four presidents of the Microcirculatory Society
  • Five chairs of  the American Heart Association Council for High Blood Pressure Research
  • One president of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Former trainees and current faculty have or are currently serving as editors or associate editors of major scientific journals in the cardiovascular and renal fields, including the Hypertension journal, American Journal of Physiology, Physiological Genomics, and the Microcirculation Journal.

Clinical and translational research programs in cardiovascular and renal diseases have also expanded in various clinical programs such as nephrology, hypertension, endocrinology, surgery, nephrology, emergency medicine and maternal-fetal medicine. This wide range of expertise from basic and clinical departments provides an important platform for the hypertension and cardiorenal diseases research (HCDR) training program.

Based on this expertise, UMMC has identified hypertension and cardiovascular and renal diseases as a major area for research development in its strategic research plan. Cardiovascular and renal diseases represent a major unmet health care need in Mississippi, and development of the Cardiovascular-Renal Research Center (CRRC) is a cornerstone in UMMC's research focus. The CRRC houses core facilities for hypertension and cardiorenal diseases researchers, research laboratories and administrative space. 

This effort is highlighted by the expansion of a state-of–the-art research building devoted largely to cardiovascular, renal and metabolic diseases research. With the completion of the Arthur C. Guyton Research Building, a large amount of research space (approximately 20,000 square feet) was pledged solely to the future needs of the CRRC. More than 60,000 square feet of additional research space was committed to CRRC-associated departments. Also, more than 20,000 square feet of space was committed for laboratory animal facilities and in vivo imaging of animals in addition to the space currently available.

Consolidating this state-of-the-art research space in one area has greatly enhanced the development of a strong, multidisciplinary HCDR training program that fosters interaction between basic and clinical scientists involved in hypertension and cardio-renal diseases research. Thus, the infrastructure for the success of training future cardiovascular and renal researchers is in place and operational at UMMC.

UMMC also supports student training with travel funds to attend meetings, supplementation of pre-doctoral stipends with non-federal funds, and full tuition scholarships for training grant-eligible students. Since last submission of the T32, UMMC has also provided more funds to support graduate student recruiting programs such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program and the recently implemented graduate student recruiting day.

The institution also provided financial support for an 2 administrators to assist CRRC faculty and HCDR training program faculty with clerical services. UMMC also has recently funded an Office of Postdoctoral Affairs within the graduate school to support an associate dean for postdoctoral studies, the Career Opportunities and Professional Development series that explores various career pathways, incorporation of Individual Development Plans for all trainees, and the new Trainee Careers Pathway Program Teaching.