Cardiovascular Scholars Program: Faculty Mentor Catalog
Revised: June 2014


The intent of this document is to provide a resource to cardiovascular medicine trainees at the University of Massachusetts that will acquaint them with intra- and extramural scientists with a history of mentorship and scholarly work. As participants in the Cardiovascular Scholars Program, you will be asked to work with, and learn from, one of these mentors on a scholarly project. We will help you identify a mentor and initiate contact with them as part of your participation in the program.

University of Massachusetts Medical School:

Cardiology Division
Gerard Aurigemma, MD
As director of the UMass echocardiography lab, Dr. Aurigemma is particularly interested in novel echocardiographic techniques for assessing diastolic function. He has published on a wide variety of topics and has mentored many fellows, residents and students over the years.
Marcus Cooper, MD
The Cooper Lab endeavors to identify novel pathways and regulators of mitochondrial transcription that enhance insulin sensitivity. Mitochondrial dysfunction is strongly associated with a number of diseases, including heart failure, diabetes, neurodegeneration and certain skeletal myopathies. Although precise causal relationships are not fully resolved, it is widely believed that impaired mitochondrial function adversely affects the aforementioned disorders.
J. Kevin Donahue, MD
Dr. Donahue’s primary research interests are the elucidation of mechanisms, and from that, the development of therapies for cardiac arrhythmias. As a means to that end, the Donahue lab has developed several gene therapy methods and created novel animal models of cardiac arrhythmias. The Donahue lab was first to show efficacy of gene therapy for a cardiac arrhythmia in a 12/2000 Nature Medicine publication documenting heart rate control in atrial fibrillation after atrioventricular nodal gene transfer of Gαi2. More recently, the lab demonstrated complete elimination of post-myocardial infarction ventricular arrhythmias (Nature Medicine 2006) and elimination of atrial fibrillation (Circulation 2010) in porcine disease models. Ongoing interests include development of a gene therapy clinical trial for post-operative atrial fibrillation, investigation of mechanisms for post-infarct ventricular arrhythmias and chronic atrial fibrillation, development of improved gene delivery methods, and the use of these methods for arrhythmia gene therapy.
Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD
Dr. Fisher’s research interests cover the field of interventional cardiology, including coronary intervention, peripheral vascular, and structural heart disease. Clinical trials include new investigational approaches for the treatment of hypertension, pharmacological strategies post device placement, and novel percutaneous approaches to structural heart pathology.
Timothy P. Fitzgibbons,   MD, PhD
Dr. Fitzgibbons has an interest in obesity, perivascular/epicardial fat, and stress cardiopmyopathy. Dr. Fitzgibbons' research is supported by the AHA. In addition to working with mouse models of diet induced obesity and atherosclerosis, he collaborates with many other PI's in the department, and is a co-investigator on three ongoing clinical studies:

REACD (Role of Epicardial Fat in Cardiovascular Disease)-A study that is comparing global differences in gene expression from the epicardial fat of patients with and without coronary disease.

HOTFAT (Predicting Coronary Heart Disease Outcomes in High Risk Patients using Brown Fat). A study which aims to detect activation of brown fat using contrast ultrasound in patients subjected to therapeutic hypothermia.

POSTCARDS (Prospective Stress Cardiomyopathy Study). A longitudinal study comparing LV remodeling using 3D echocardiogram and blood biomarkers of women with acute myocardial infarction and stress cardiomyopathy.

Jane Freedman, MD
The major research initiatives in Dr. Freedman’s laboratory emphasize the regulation of pathways contributing to atherothrombotic disease and how these factors influence acute coronary syndromes. There are two laboratories; the first is a basic science laboratory that examines the role of immunity, infection, and inflammation on atherothrombotic (specifically platelet function) disease. Projects in this lab utilize targeted genetic approaches to study inflammation and thrombosis as it relates to CVD. The second laboratory is currently collaborating with many groups using high-throughput and nano-chip technologies to study gene expression and provide translational data for a wide range of projects. Potential basic research could include investigated circulating cells/vessel wall from genetically targeted mouse models or using nano-technology for high-throughput genetic targeting. Clinical projects might study cellular function or biomarkers in collaboration with Interventional Cardiology. People with previous training in statistics/epidemiology could work on projects in the Framingham Heart Study. Projects would depend upon available time and previous experience.
 Peter Gibson, MD
Dr. Gibson is involved in quality improvement (QI) projects at UMass Memorial.
Joel Gore, MD
Dr. Gore works closely with Dr. Rob Goldberg (see UMMS section below) on population-based research utilizing the Worcester Heart Attack Study, Worcester Heart Failure Study, Worcester Venous Thrombosis Study and GRACE project. In addition, as the head of the Anticoagulation Clinic, he has access to data from the clinic’s electronic database (Dose Response), which can be utilized to perform research on anticoagulation. Finally, he studies thrombophilia with some of the pharmacists at UMass. Along with Dr. Goldberg, Dr. Gore has mentored many fellows in the past.
John Keaney, Jr.,MD
Dr. Keaney's laboratory is interested in the biology of endothelial cells and how the endothelium regulates the function of blood vessels. This research involves basic science and bench-related experiments that help us understand the mechanisms of endothelial function. The laboratory also utilizes animal models of endothelial function in genetically modified mice. Current projects involve understanding how mitochondrial function impacts the endothelium and vascular function with a particular focus on the transcriptional co-activator known as peroxisome proliferator coactivator gamma-1. We are also studying how uncoupling proteins, which regulate the mitochondrial proton gradient, determine specific functions within the endothelium. Finally, we are also investigating the role of NADPH oxidase isoform 4 (Nox4) on the endothelium. We have collaborations with a number of other investigators that afford us the opportunity to perform investigations in small-scale human studies as well as larger populations such as the Framingham Heart Study.
David McManus, MD, ScM
Dr. McManus is an electrophysiologist and cardiovascular researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). His primary clinical and research interests focus on identifying factors responsible for developing atrial fibrillation (AF) in order to better identify patients at risk for this arrhythmia and its complications. He is an NIH/NHLBI-funded investigator involved in 7 active projects relating to cardiac arrhythmias, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.
 Ira Ockene, MD:

4community-level research for the modification of risk factors

4prevention of diabetes at the community level, particularly involving change in diet and physical activity

4exploration of the mechanisms whereby certain populations (particularly Latinos) are exceptionally sensitive to weight gain and weight loss with reference to risk of diabetes. Such exploration may include genetic and epigenetic phenomena

4behavioral change as it applies to risk factor modification, to include studies of "mindfulness"

4the uses of technology in behavior change, at the moment focused on the elderly

Linda Pape, MD
1. Longitudinal echocardiographic study of bicuspid aortic valve patients, with particular attention to aortic growth in relation to valve pathology. We are nearing completion of 5 year data gathering. There are opportunities to analyze and report on results. 2. International Registry of Acute Aortic Dissection (IRAD) multicenter registry. There are opportunities to gather data on Types A and B acute aortic dissection.
Jeffrey Rade, MD
My laboratory investigates vascular endothelial and platelet function as it relates to thrombus formation. One major focus is the biology and pathobiology of thrombomodulin, a critical element of the protein C anticoagulant pathway. My laboratory has identified several novel regulatory pathways of this molecule, including the effects of vascular stretch, proteasome inhibition and NF-kB activation. Another major focus is the biology and clinical consequences of thromboxane formation and platelet activation in patients with ischemic heart disease. In a recent clinical study, we have found that aspirin-insensitive thromboxane formation and shear-dependent platelet activation are novel risk factors for early vein graft thrombosis after CABG surgery as determined by CT angiography. These findings are being investigated in other populations with heart disease, particularly those with heart failure.
Larry Rosenthal, MD, PhD

Here is a list of current studies ongoing in the EP section. As active participants, we have access to all kinds of databases. A fellow could suggest a substudy or, more likely, could examine a pre-existing data base with a specific question in mind. We always have ongoing QA projects as well.

4 Risk Stratification in MADIT II type patients (NIH, 2005)

4 Vest prevention of Early Sudden death Trial (VEST) and PREDiction of ICD Therapies Study (PREDICTS) (NIH, 2008)

4 Provide—Programming Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators in patients with primary prevention indications to prolong time to first shock (St. Jude Inc, 2008)

4 AF-CRT Study: The effect of Biventricular Pacing on the Incidence of Atrial Fibrillation (Boston Scientific Inc, 2008)

4 ENVISION:Real time 3-dimensional echocardiography for left ventricular site selection to reduce cardiac resynchronization therapy for non-responder rates (St. Jude Inc, 2010)

4 LapTop HF IDE study (St. Jude Inc, 2010)

4 MADIT RIT:Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial: Reduce Inappropriate Therapy (NIH, 2010)

4 The IMPACT of BIOTRONIK Home Monitoring Guided Anticoagulation on Stroke Risk in Patients with ICD and CRT-D Devices (Biotronik 2010)

4 PRE-SENSE: Physiologic Response to Exercise: Sensor Evaluation at Specified Exertions (Boston Scientific Inc, 2010)

4 MULTISENSE: Multisensor chronic evaluations in ambulatory heart failure patients (Boston Scientific Inc, 2011)

4 RAID: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ranolazine versus placebo in patients with implantable cardiac defibrillators (NIH, 2011)

Dennis Tighe, MD
Dr. Tighe has mentored fellows and residents on a wide variety of projects, many of which have involved echocardiography. Recent publications have addressed the following topics: Measurement of ejection fraction by echocardiography and left ventriculography, cardiac mechanics in hypertensive heart disease, the use of NSAIDS in post-operative pericardial effusion, and right ventricular dysfunction in transient stress cardiomyopathy.
Chinmay Trivedi, MD, PhD
Congenital and adult heart diseases are the leading causes of mortality in the developed world. The underlying pathology is improper development of cardiomyocytes that leads to the devastating heart defects in 1% of newborn children and loss of diseased cardiomyocytes that leads to truly disastrous heart failure in adults. Unfortunately, the heart is one of the least regenerative organs in the body with negligible endogenous capacity to repair or replace affected cardiomyocytes. Ability of pluripotent stem cells and cardiac progenitor cells to progressively differentiate into various lineages, including cardiomyocytes, provides tantalizing promise for exogenous cell-based therapy. Our main focus is to understand the roles of chromatin and epigenetic modifications during lineage commitment and differentiation of these progenitor cells to mature cardiomyocytes to harness its therapeutic potential.


Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Robert Goldberg, PhD: Dr. Goldberg works closely with Dr. Gore on population-based research. He has mentored many fellows in the past. Interested investigators have a number of large clinical and epidemiologic databases available for analysis that are described in the following:


Worcester Heart Attack Study

Through the current period of federal funding support for the Worcester Heart Attack Study, investigators on this large observational study are examining more than 3 decade long trends (1975–2009) in the incidence rates, in–hospital and long–term survival, and therapeutic approaches used in the management of more than 14,000 greater Worcester (MA) residents hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction at all medical centers in the Worcester metropolitan area.


Worcester Heart Failure Study

The study investigators are currently receiving funding support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to develop community-wide hospital and outpatient surveillance for heart failure in greater Worcester residents. Data abstraction activities have been completed for patients hospitalized with acute heart failure at all Worcester medical centers during 1995 and 2000 (n=4,200) and the investigators have recently begun the abstraction of data from medical records for greater Worcester residents hospitalized with acute heart failure during 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Changing trends in the incidence rates of acute heart failure, hospital and long-term outcomes, and therapeutic and nonpharmacologic management approaches used in the treatment of patients hospitalized with acute heart failure are being examined in this prospective study.

Worcester Venous Thromboembolism Study

This population-based surveillance project is examining changing trends in the incidence, hospital and long-term case-fatality rates, and management practices of in and outpatients with venous thromboembolism (VTE) among residents of the Worcester metropolitan area. To date, a total of approximately 1,600 patients have been hospitalized for VTE during the 3 study years of 1999, 2001, and 2003. Follow-up data are available through 2009.

Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events

The Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events (GRACE) Project is a large multinational coronary disease registry examining differences in the management practices, hospital, and post-discharge outcomes of more than 50,000 patients hospitalized in 14 countries with an acute coronary syndrome. The first year under study of this longitudinal investigation was 1999 and the most recent year of data collection is 2007.

Catarina Kiefe, MD, PhD: Department Chair, Quantitative Health Sciences. I have a long-standing interest in cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes and effectiveness research. I have participated in or led major national efforts that pertain to CVD epidemiology or outcomes research. This includes a 17-year ongoing involvement in the leadership of the CARDIA study (below); and also serving as PI on multiple federally funded R01s that include the study of outpatient management of post-MI patients and the inpatient management of patients with unstable angina, among others. Much of my CVD research has emphasized measurement of the quality of health care and on generating new knowledge on how to implement evidence into practice. On the basis of my long history of successful independent funding, my interest in CVD outcomes research, and my expertise in mentoring junior investigators, I am well-qualified to participate as an advisor to cardiovascular researchers.

Jeroan Allison, MD, MS: I have a unique background that combines expertise in cardiovascular research, statistical methodology, and extensive mentoring. Over the past ten years, my career has focused on large database and implementation research, with an emphasis on cardiovascular diseases and health disparities. As examples of my work in cardiovascular diseases, I was a project PI on the NHLBI-funded Alabama Collaboration for Cardiovascular Equality, Co-PI on a NHLBI-funded study to increase guideline adherence for ambulatory patients with a history of myocardial infarction, and was an investigator on an AHRQ-funded project to study the impact of guidelines on quality of care for unstable angina. I have a sustained record of funding from federal sources and private foundations over the past ten years. I have published more than 130 manuscripts, editorials, and book chapters. My scholarly productivity has been accelerating with more than 24 peer-reviewed manuscripts published or in press for 2009. Additionally, I have completed service as a mentor to over 20 scientists and am currently mentor to an additional 4.

Division of Endocrinology

David Harlan, MD: Chair, Diabetes Center of Excellence; Dr. Harlan has a long track record of productive clinical and translational research focused on the prevention and treatment of diabetes mellitus. Recently, Dr. Harlan has been working with technologies (e.g., smartphone applications) to better the care of patients with diabetes.

Department of Emergency Medicine

Chad Darling, MD: My research interests focus on cardiovascular disease in general and specifically heart failure. I have significant background in cardiovascular physiology and experience in conducting Emergency Medicine research on a variety of clinical and basic science research projects ranging from airway management to acute coronary syndromes to my current NIH funded heart failure project. The UMass Department of Emergency Medicine ranks in the top 3 NIH funded Emergency Departments in the U.S. This robust research environment, with multiple federally funded investigators, also benefits from a large and dedicated research staff including our PhD Research Director who has extensive research experience. I am also currently receiving additional training in statistics, research design, and epidemiology as part of the UMass Masters in Clinical Investigation. In addition, I am involved in a project that is developing smartphone technology to wirelessly support and monitor chronically ill heart failure patients at home. Over the years I have developed a track record of collaboration on several research projects with colleagues in Cardiology, Laboratory Medicine, and Quantitative Health Sciences.

Jeanine Ward, MD, PhD: My research interests focus on the use of circulating microRNAs to better understand the pathophysiology of the acute coronary syndrome.

Department of Geriatric Medicine

Jerry Gurwitz, MD: Chair of the Meyers Primary Care Institute, Dr. Gurwitz has a longstanding history of research focusing on medication use in older individuals. He has authored several papers on topics relating to cardiovascular disease and is a leader in the Cardiovascular Research Network (CVRN), a multicenter research collaborative within the HMO Research Network.

Jane Saczynski, PhD: a neuroepidemiologist focused on the impact of cognitive impairment on prognosis from cardiovascular disease, Dr. Saczynski is Co-PI of an active proposal with Dr. McManus, the InRhythm Study. Dr. Saczynski has successfully mentored cardiovascular medicine fellows and trainees.

Extramural Investigators:

Robert Phillips, MD, PhD: My current clinical research program focuses on four interrelated areas: 1) characterizing the impact of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and diastolic dysfunction on cardiovascular outcomes in patients with chronic kidney disease; 2) determining the role of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) as a tool to study the entire 24 hour blood pressure profile and its impact on end-organ damage and hypertension management; 3) determining the best BP treatment goals for patients with hypertension and 4) treatment of resistant hypertension with mechanical interventions.

Emelia Benjamin, MD, ScM: Dr. Benjamin co-leads the international CHARGE genetics consortia in atrial fibrillation, inflammation markers, and endothelial function, being well-published, and having 4 RO1s, including a Challenge Grant. In addition, she has the honor of serving as Vice Chair for Faculty Development and Diversity in the Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, and co-chairing the Boston University Medical Campus Mentoring Task Force.

Ki Chon, PhD: I am a bioengineer and researcher at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with ongoing clinical and research interests in the detection of malignant heart rhythms including atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and atrial tachycardia. Recently, my lab has been working on this research work in collaboration with Dr. McManus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Prior to my move to WPI, I have been working on this related project with electrophysiologists at SUNY Stony Brook. We have all the necessary equipments and facilities to perform the work proposed. In addition, as shown below, we have published several journal papers and a patent on atrial fibrillation detection algorithm that is currently pending in this research area which has led to the development of the current proposal. I have graduated 10 PhD students, mentored 5 postdocs and 7 master students. Currently, I am mentoring 4 PhD students, 1 MS and 3 undergraduate students in my laboratory. My former and current students are actively involved in research and their work have resulted in more than 70 refereed journal publications.