The Division of Atherosclerosis and Vascular Medicine serves Baylor College of Medicine, its hospital affiliates, and the community through strong interdisciplinary programs in atherogenesis, vascular biology, and lipid disorders. The division is composed of faculty and support staff who work in research, education, and patient care. The research is divided between basic and clinical components. Much of the clinical research is devoted to testing anti-atherogenic and lipid-lowering drugs and using MRI to monitor their effects on arterial plaque size and composition. Other studies focus on mechanisms and nutritional aspects of lipid metabolism, including dietary fat and alcohol. Clinical studies are designed to answer important questions and to formulate new hypotheses that may be tested through basic research and additional clinical research.
Current basic research encompasses cell and molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, enzyme kinetics, and molecular biophysics. This basic research program is supported in part by an Atherosclerosis and Vascular Biology Research Training Grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Transgenic animal models of disease and potentially anti-atherogenic genes are frequently used in transferring findings from isolated cell cultures to animal models of atherosclerosis. Thematic areas of interest include receptor biology, angiogenesis, adhesion molecules, lipolytic mechanisms, lipoprotein remodeling, drug design, gene transfer therapy, protein and lipoprotein structure, and gene expression profiling on DNA and oligonucleotide microarrays. The division offers a unique environment in which investigators can pursue important questions in cardiovascular disease at both the clinical and basic science levels. Collaborations between physicians and laboratory scientists provide students and fellows with a way to pursue a significant problem from gene to molecule to patient. This clinical medicine-basic research connection provides a mechanism for expediting the movement of new knowledge from the bench to the bedside. The program places a strong emphasis on creativity and self-reliance. Its goal is to develop independent scientists who will make significant contributions to biomedical research and be an asset to the institutions and communities they serve.
The program in the division provides training from a minimum of one year to a maximum of three years. At the beginning of the second year, trainees who plan careers in academic research are encouraged to apply for independent support. This is considered part of the education process and is usually done with input from the division faculty. Each year, six postdoctoral positions in basic research and one in clinical research are available.