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Goals and Structure

This is a T32 funded by NHLBI to support 3 predoctoral trainees and 3 postdoctoral trainees. The aim is to produce independent basic and clinician scientist investigators who are capable of developing and sustaining top quality research programs studying cause, treatment and prevention of hypertension and associated cardiovascular injury using a wide range techniques. By introduction of the trainees to a wide range of scientific disciplines during the training period, we intend to produce young scientists capable of multidisciplinary research; essential for understanding a complex disease such as hypertension.

There is clear need for future hypertension researchers, given the epidemic of hypertension in the US with over 65 million adults known to have hypertension in 1999 to 2000. Further, hypertension is now the single major cause for a doctors visit or for prescription of medications. Given the fact that the population is living longer and becoming more obese, a rapid further increase in incidence of hypertension is anticipated (Fields et al.,Hypertension. 44:398-404, 2004). As blood pressure increases in middle and old age, there is a strong and direct relation to vascular (and overall) mortality. In fact the risk is present at blood pressures even below the cutoff for hypertension, 140/90 and even high-normal blood pressure (between 130/81 and 139/89 mmHg) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (Lewington et al., Lancet. 360:1903-13, 2002; Vasan et al. N Engl J Med. 345:1291-7, 2001).

Essential hypertension is a multifactorial disease with local vascular endothelial dysfunction, alterations in renal function, changes in cardiac and neural control of the circulation all contributing. There is considerable expertise in these related areas in the University of Florida with groups with national reputations, many of whom are already collaborating and the University of Florida is also the home of the National Vascular Biology Working Group, chaired by Dr. Pepine, Cardiology Division Chief, http://www.vbwg.org/.

The research projects fall within the general area of endothelial control of cardiovascular function. The program is organized around the following major overlapping themes (see figure) that reflect the faculty expertise: Endothelial repair, Neural control of vascular tone and BP, Angiotensin II control of BP, Nitric oxide control of BP, Pulmonary hypertension, CV damage in renal disease, Exercise and CV injury and health.

Interaction of research areas

The University of Florida has a large number of outstanding researchers dedicated to investigation of these different aspects of cardiovascular function with many existing collaborations and overlapping areas of research interest. Part of the mission of the Hypertension Center is to develop new and foster existing interactions between disciplines and this will be enhanced by our T32. Another goal is to educate and train future researchers in hypertension research. The Hypertension Center training program is dedicated to developing a strong translational approach with all trainees. The training faculty includes a number of well recognized clinician scientists as well as basic scientists involved in clinical and translational research. Each Doctoral trainee will have at least one clinical or basic science faculty on the thesis committee and each postdoctoral trainee will have a secondary mentor who is either a basic scientist or a clinician.