SPUR 2018: AHA-Funded Positions

The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce that five new SPUR positions focusing on cardiovascular research have become available. These new positions are funded by an American Heart Association grant recently awarded to Dr. Stavros Drakos, MD, PhD.

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The student application is now closed.
Acceptance notifications will be sent by April 2.

The primary goal of these positions is to provide opportunities and encourage undergraduate students to experience the growing scientific effort that seeks to tackle the mechanisms and consequences of cardiovascular disease. The faculty mentors will offer individual trainees with multi-facets of biomedical research and translating the findings to the human condition. The faculty mentors believe that it is important to develop and cultivate a culture that fosters productive interactions between basic and clinical science.

The faculty mentors are:

Stavros Drakos, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine Division, Medical Director of the Cardiac Mechanical Support Program, Co-Chief of Heart Failure and Transplant Section and Director of Cardiovascular Research, Division of Cardiology at University of Utah. He is a Co-Director and Principal Investigator for the NIH sponsored T32 Training Program in Cardiovascular Research. Dr. Drako’s research is focused on advancing the field of mechanical circulatory support for patients with heart failure. He started the Utah Cardiac Recovery (UCAR) program, a prospective translational research effort that aims to identify clinical characteristics and biomarkers to predict human myocardial recovery after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) removal and utilizes this information to understand and manipulate cardiac recovery. Dr Drakos is the Clinical Project PI of AHA Strategically Focused Heart Failure Research Network (SFRN 2016). 

Edward DiBella, PhD is a Professor in Radiology. Dr. DiBella’s current research focuses on perfusion and diffusion imaging in the heart and brain. These projects are very collaborative and multi-disciplinary, and seek to have a clinical impact. Dr. DiBella has trained a number of undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Training is customized and includes group meetings and presentations, and active collaborations with physicians in Cardiovascular Medicine, Radiology, Neurology, and Rehabilitation. 

Russell Richardson, MD, PhD is a Professor of Medicine, and Exercise and Sport Science. Dr. Richardson directs the Utah Vascular Research Laboratory located at the Salt Lake VA Medical Center. He has had a long standing interest in oxygen transport from air to tissue, and is currently studying the link between vascular and skeletal muscle function. One of the many potential links is the role of oxidative stress in the regulation/dysregulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle metabolism and vascular control. 

Frank Sachse, PhD is an Associate Professor in Bioengineering. Dr. Sachse has a broad background in cardiac biophysics, physiology and pathophysiology. Dr. Sachse currently studies subcellular cardiac remodeling in heart disease and restoration after therapy based on microscopy and quantitative image analysis. His research group has developed approaches for fluorescent labeling and confocal microscopy of cardiac cells and tissues. Dr. Sachse’s laboratory has created an extensive software framework to analyze and visualize data from confocal microscopy. He collaborates with others to apply the software in studies of calcium signaling, protein distributions and intercellular coupling in cardiac cells. 

Martin Tristani-Firouzi, MD is a Professor of Pediatric Cardiology and an executive committee member of NIH sponsored T32 Program in Cardiovascular Research. His laboratory at the CVRTI uses zebrafish and human iPSC-cell derived cardiomyocytes as model systems to study arrhythmia. Dr. Tristani-Firouzi is the co-PI for the NIH Cardiac Development Research Center (5U01 HL098160; PI: HJ Yost), and the PI of the Pediatric Cardiac Genomics Consortium (PCGC; UM1 HL128711) at the University of Utah. These centers use Dr. Tristani-Firouzi’s expertise in examining heart function in zebrafish to perform a genome wide analysis of zebrafish cardiac development. Dr. Tristani-Firouzi is the Center Director of AHA Strategically Focused Children’s Research Network (SFRN 2017).