Vanderbilt University Cardiovascular Medicine
T32 Training Program (VUCM-T32)

Clinical, translational and basic cardiovascular research

The mission of the Vanderbilt University Cardiovascular Medicine T32 (VUCM-T32) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is to foster the career development of the next generation of cardiovascular investigators through organized training and mentorship of early career scientists from diverse scientific and personal backgrounds. Our T32 provides trainees with a rich source of basic, clinical and translational faculty mentors, with a resourced, supportive career development environment. We emphasize responsible conduct of research, specifically methodologic rigor, reproducibility and integrity. Research areas leverage strengths within our broad cardiovascular research and clinical ecosystem, including basic cardiovascular and metabolic biology, epidemiology and health record-based research, genomics, bioinformatics, and other translational "molecular epidemiology” (e.g., proteomics/metabolomics), clinical investigation, and randomized clinical trials. Our trainees have had success in attaining career development award funding, including NIH K-level, American Heart Association career development awards and other foundation awards, to facilitate the next committed step in career development. Our fundamental goal is to provide trainees the platform to sustain a meaningful, lifelong career in cardiovascular investigation.

Aims of the Program

  • Develop skills in investigation spanning critical review of literature, research objectives, data and methodologies
  • Promote clinical contextualization of research, including power of translational integration of cardiovascular clinical and basic research enterprise
  • Develop rigorous statistical and methodologic training, including a focus on research integrity, reproducibility and rigor
  • Enhance experiences in scientific leadership and communication

The VUCM-T32 offers a personalized experience for training, driven by faculty-mentored research, supplemented by didactic instruction across a broad array of cardiovascular science, opportunities for degree completion such as Vanderbilt’s Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) or Master of Public Health (MPH), scientific leadership and communication training, and a wide array of other opportunities. Broadly, our training program consists of:

  • A faculty-mentored research experience
  • Multidisciplinary, multi-level mentorship, including a primary mentor, individualized mentoring teams and involvement of program leadership
  • Formalized didactic sessions across cardiovascular focus areas, including vascular and metabolic biology, epidemiology, imaging, genomics and other “omics” technologies, statistical methods, arrhythomogenesis, heart failure and cardiovascular pharmacology
  • Research and clinical conference series
  • Formalized responsible conduct of research training
  • Scientific communication and leadership skill development, including grant writing fundamentals, manuscript editing and review. These processes culminate in trainee publications and presentations, nationally and in T32-dedicated sessions at our “Vanderbilt Cardiovascular Research Day”

Of note, the resources of our program are substantially augmented by the Vanderbilt Clinical and Translational Research Award (VICTR), which provides dedicated resources for trainees VUMC-wide, including:

  • Grant writing workshop
  • Grant pacing workshop to focus individual grant submissions by timelines and deliverables
  • Internal mock study section review
  • “Studios” meetings with senior investigator teams to review manuscripts, aims and troubleshoot problems
  • A large-funded grants library comprised of K- and R-level awards to help trainees understand the review and grants process

Evaluation of the program is a 360-degree process, with yearly meetings of program faculty and trainees with external and internal advisory committees, and a centralized steering committee involved in trainee-mentor appointment and broad oversight. Planned milestones for evaluation encompass both trainee- and program-focused elements geared toward trainee success. Our major area of evaluation centers around the effectiveness of the trainee-mentor experience as evidenced through personalized surveys, individual development plans and productivity, among other metrics.

Individuals who choose to apply for our fellowship should demonstrate a commitment to excellence and integrity in scientific investigation, and a commitment to a career in an area of cardiovascular science.

The centerpiece of the VUCM-T32 is the mentor-mentee trainee experience. We have a diverse array of mentors across different fields of cardiovascular science from which trainees can choose. In addition to selection of a “primary mentor,” each T32 trainee will have an Individualized Mentoring Committee to help offer a broader context to research and career development. This Individualized Mentoring Committee meets approximately every six months to discuss progress in research and career development, including attainment of professional positions after the T32, directed by an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The IDP serves as a bidirectional “touchstone” for career development, allowing trainees, mentors, and program leadership to best serve the personalized interests of a trainee in their development.

The mentors in our program, by specialty, are provided below.

Cardiovascular Development and Stem Cell Biology

Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Outcomes and Health Services Research

Cardiovascular Genomics

Cardiovascular Imaging

Heart Failure and Translplantation


Metabolism and CVD

Myocardial and Ion Channel Biology

Pulmonary Hypertension and Right Heart Function

Vascular Biology

Our T32 is fortunate to have a multilevel structure for evaluation, including steering and internal and external advisory committees, comprised of senior investigators in cardiovascular science with extensive experience in mentorship at the fellow-to-faculty transition. In addition to providing insight on program success and guidance, these faculty provide additional points of contact for fellows as they look both inside and outside Vanderbilt for positions and collaborations in their career.

Steering Committee

Internal Executive Committee

External Advisory Board

Recent trainees are listed below:

FellowMentorProject AreaOutcome
Debra Dixon, MD, MSGuptaSocial determinants of health and cardiovascular diseaseCardiology fellowship (Harrison Society); NHLBI K23 submitted; awarded ACC/ABC/BMS Award to support Year 3 of post-doctoral training
Victoria Thomas, MDShahEpidemiology and outcomes in peripheral arterial disease across race (implementation science)Awarded ACC/ABC/BMS Award to support post-doctoral training (2021)
Andrew Perry, MDShahMulti-omic phenotyping of cardiac remodelingCurrently supported by mentor's AHA Award (SFRN); obtained NIH Loan Reypayment Program grant with current studies (2022); applied for NHLBI F32 (2022)
Megan Lancaster, MD, PhDRodenGenomics of insulin resistance and sensitivityCardiology fellowship (Harrison Society); K submission planned (2023)
Jonathan Brett Heimlich, MD, PhDBickGenetics of cardiovascular diseaseCompleted cardiology fellowship at Vanderbilt (Harrison Society); currently clinical fellow in Vanderbilt Genomic Medicine Program; K08 submission planned
Jean Wassenaar, MD, PhDMadhurMechanisms of heart failure with preserved ejection fractionCompleted cardiology fellowship at Vanderbilt (Harrison Society); currently research fellow; K-series submission planned (2023)
Jeff Schmeckpeper, MD, PhDKnollmann, WellsMechanisms of ventricular tachycardia

NHLBI K08 submitted (2021); Heart Failure/Transplant fellow (2022-2023)

Minoo Bagheri, PhDMosley, FergusonMetabolic-proteomic-genomic analyses of cardiometabolic disease in large cohortsK01 score 25th percentile (2022); awaiting NOGA; hired as junior faculty at VUMC

The VUCM-T32 is a two- to three-year experience in training. The experience starts in June of the calendar year, beginning of the summer following an academic year.

Individuals who choose to apply for our fellowship should demonstrate a commitment to excellence and integrity in scientific investigation and a commitment to a career in an area of cardiovascular science.

Please submit the following to

  • A brief letter of intent – one page, consisting of personalized career goals and proposed mentor, and whether you wish to pursue a degree-granting program
  • A curriculum vitae consisting of prior scholastic performance, including GPA and research experience
  • A list of two to three references for contact on performance in a scientific or clinical context

In the letter of intent, please describe why VUMC provides an ideal training environment for your goals. Of note, if you wish to work with a mentor NOT yet part of the T32, please have the mentor contact us as well.

Applicants interested in degree granting programs, including MSCI or MPH, will need to be admitted to these programs separately. Applicants should note their interest in a given program in their initial letter of intent and correspondence email.

The application process is rolling. However, to make enrollment decisions, we recommend applications to be submitted by March of the year in which you are interested in enrollment. The deadlines may be earlier if you are interested in the MSCI or MPH, as these programs have their own deadlines.

Final decisions will be made after careful review of the CV, letter of intent, and an interview conducted in person or via Zoom. Our criteria for selection includes academic potential and success, potential to stay in research, and suitability of VUCM-T32 to provide a fruitful experience geared toward the trainee. Ability to commit at least two years T32 is central to selection.

Program Leadership

Jane Freedman, MD

Gladys Parkinson Stahlman Professor of Cardiovascular Research
Interim Chair, Department of Medicine
Physician-in-Chief, Vanderbilt University Hospital

Ravi Shah, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Clinical and Translational Research, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Quinn Wells, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director, Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine