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College of Graduate Studies

Cardiovascular Biology

Course Descriptions
Students 2016-2017

Donald R. Menick, Ph.D. - Division Director

The Cardiovascular Biology Division is made up of over thirty faculty members from basic science and clinical departments with the goal of training students for careers as independent investigators studying the molecular and cellular aspects of cardiovascular physiology and disease. One of the medical triumphs of the latter half of the twentieth century is the remarkable advancement that has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Despite these advances, cardiovascular disease still remains the most common fatal and disabling disorder in the United States. Over the last two decades we have made tremendous progress in our understanding of the molecular aspects of biology. Now we have the opportunity to use these new and powerful molecular tools to explore complex biological systems, such as the heart.

The research focus of the Cardiovascular Biology Division is to find bold new approaches to aid our understanding, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Some areas of research interests in this program include gene regulation in heart development, differentiation and disease, regulation of cardiovascular function and metabolism, regulation of muscle contraction and protein turnover, and signal tranduction pathways in development and disease.

The Cardiovascular Biology Division is one of the divisions of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program. Students who have satisfactorily completed the First Year Curriculum are qualified to enter the program. During their second and third year, students will complete at least 12 semester hours of advanced course work. Six of these units will be taken from courses offered in the Cardiovascular Biology Division. Courses cover topics such as signal transduction, gene expression, genetic engineering and gene therapy, and genetics and development of the cardiovascular system. The remaining units may be chosen from any of the Graduate Program courses. In addition, students will participate in the Cardiovascular journal club.

Cardiovascular Biology Course Descriptions

MCBP-728 Integrative Biology of the Cardiovascular System
This course is designed to build on the Receptors and Signaling and Systems Biology units of the first year curriculum for Ph.D. students to provide the students with an in depth understanding of the structure, function and integration of the cardiovascular system at the human and whole animal levels and the assessment of cardiovascular function in whole animal models including transgenic animals. Current concepts of the cell and molecular biology bases of cardiovascular function, dysfunction and responsiveness to therapeutic interventions will be explored. Course faculty include investigators from Adult Cardiology, Adult Endocrinology, Cell Biology and Anatomy, Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience and Surgery. Relevant material will be addressed through a combination of lectures, discussion of papers from the literature and problem solving exercises (open book).
3 credit hours
Course Directors: Donald Menick, Ph.D.
Offered in Fall Semester of alternate years.

MCBP-739 The Molecular Basis of Cardiovascular Disease
This course is designed to highlight the advances in cardiovascular science and medicine which will soon form the foundation for novel diagonstic, prognostic and therapeutic approaches to treating heart disease. Over the past decade a growing number of genes, receptors, channels and signaling factors have been shown to play a role in cardiovascular disorders. This course will examine the new approaches and technology that are being utilized to identify the molecular mechanism that these factors play in cardiovascular function and disease. We will discuss the power of utilizing molecular genetics to unravel heart diseases. We will also look at advances in our understanding of cardiovascular development, and electrophysiology. We will also discuss how new breakthroughs in tissue engineering may allow for the replacement of diseased myocardium. The course will also include sections on vascular biology and atherogenesis.
3 credit hours.
Course Director:  Donald Menick, Ph.D., Co-director: Jeffrey Jones, Ph.D.
Offered Spring Semester of alternate years.

MCBP-748/BMB 748 Lipids in Pathobiology
This multidisciplinary course addresses biochemical, applied, and translational approaches to the study of lipids.  The course is composed of three main sections: lipid biosynthesis, lipid signaling, and lipids and disease.  The first section is a comprehensive treatment of nomenclature and synthesis of major lipid classes including glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, and sterols, as well as methodology for lipid study.  The second section addresses roles of bioactive members of these lipid classes in regulation of cell signaling and downstream events.  The third section is largely translational, with many lectures on human diseases that involve the lipids and signaling pathways discussed.  This course contains a brief hands-on laboratory segment.    This course is open this to graduate students, residents, postdocs, and third and fourth medical students.
Credits: 3
Course Director:  Samar M. Hammad, Ph.D., Co-director:  Ashley Cowart
Offered every two years in the Spring

MCBP-762 Mechanisms of Development
This course will provide a general overview of fundamental developmental mechanisms focused on a comparison of different model organisms. This 7 week long course covers early and intermediate developmental events (gastrulation and cardiovascular), stem cell biology, mouse molecular genetics and gene regulation, perinatal maturation through induction of stemness in differentiated adult cells and regenerative medicine. Comparative systems discussed include Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus, chick, mouse models and humans. The course is intended for graduate student training in any aspect of biomedical research. Offered in every Spring Semester (Spring Selectives).
Credits: 3.00
Course Director: Yukiko Sugi, Ph.D.

MCBP-782 Cardiovascular Biology Journal Club
The Cardiovascular Biology Journal Club course is designed to highlight the advances in cardiovascular science and medicine that will soon form the foundation for novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic approaches to treating heart disease. Publications will be presented by the students weekly, which address current concepts of the cell and molecular biology bases of cardiovascular function, dysfunction and responsiveness to therapeutic interventions. Students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty who will take part in the weekly discussion include investigators from adult cardiology, adult Endocrinology, Cell Biology and Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Surgery. Credits: 1.00 CEUs, Academic Level: PD - Doctorate
Director - Donald Menick, Ph.D., Phone - 876-5045, Email -
Fall 2015 Schedule: "Fridays, 8:30am - 9:30am", Strom Thurmond Building, room 641

PATH-792 Anatomy, Histology and Histopathology of the Laboratory Mouse
This course is offered as an elective course during the first three weeks of the summer semester. The anatomy, histology, and histopathology of the laboratory mouse will be presented. Emphasis will be placed on differences between human and mouse so future investigators who may use a mouse model of human disease will understand approaches to developing new modes as well as limitations of a given model. Lectures will present anatomy, histology, basic principles of pathobiology and unique mouse pathology. Lab sessions will be used to demonstrate the proper way to perform a pathological examination on properly euthanized animals. Tutorials using glass and virtual slides will be included. Students will learn and execute a necropsy (term for post-mortem examination in veterinary medicine) of the mouse. Two Genetically Engineered Mouse (GEM) models will be introduced by Drs. Awgulewitsch and Spyropoulos at the end of the course to reinforce the significance of understanding differences between mouse and human anatomy, histology, and pathology. Due to the brevity of the course, only a limited number of pathological entities will be included. 3 credit hours. Prerequisite: PATH 789, Graduate Histology: Introduction to Pathology, or CELL 609: Medical Histology, or by permission of the course directors.
Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer, Ph.D. (, Kristi L. Helke, D.V.M., Ph.D. (, Demetri Spyropoulos, Ph.D. (, Alexander Awgulewitsch, Ph.D., (

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Cardiovascular Training Grant Retreat

Cardiovascular Biology Faculty

Zsolt Ablonczy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Ophthalmology
RPE Cell Biology, age-related muscular degeneration, mass spectrometry

Kelly M. Argraves, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Regenerative Medicine & Cell Biology
Role of Sphingosine-1 Phosphate in Vasculogenesis and Angiogenesis

Craig Beeson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Drug Discovery and Biomedical Science
Myocardial bioenergetics and protection from ischemia/reperfusion cell damage

Galina Bogatkevich, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
Vascular dysfunction and inflammation in patients with pulmonary fibrosis associated with scleroderma

Amy Bradshaw, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Function of Collagen and Extracellular Matrix in the Heart

Julie Chao, M.S., Ph.D.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Cardiovascular remodeling, hypertrophy, fibrosis, and angiogenesis

Lee Chao, Ph.D.
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Eukaryotic gene structure, function, regulation, and evolution

Craig Crosson, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chairman for Research
Department of Ophthalmology
Ischemia & neovascularization

Thomas A. Dix, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
College of Pharmacy
SCCP Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences
Design and Development of New Drugs Targeting Stroke

Monika Gooz, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine
Disintegrin and Metalloenzymes (ADAMs) in Angiogenesis

Perry Halushka, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Medical Scientist Training Program
Regulation of expression and structural characterization of thromboxane A2 receptors

Samar M. Hammad, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Sphingolipid signaling induced by modified LDL and LDL-immune complexes in human macrophages: relevance to inflammation and atheroscleroisis

Stanley R. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Function of specific ECM proteins and MMP's in epithelial-mesenchymal transformation & blood vessel formation

Yan Huang, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine

Jeffrey A. Jones, Ph.D.
Department of Surgery
Biomechanical (tension, stretch) and Molecular Mechanisms (proteases, TGF-Beta) regulating matrix remodeling in Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms

Christine B. Kern, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Extracellular Matrix Remodeling in Cardiovascular Development and Disease

Michael Kern, Ph.D.
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Developmental and disease consequences of the cardiac specific post-transcriptional regulation of homeobox transcription.

Dhandapani Kuppuswamy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Integrin dependent and independent signaling events triggered during hypertrophic cardiac growth

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John Lazarchick, M.D.
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Role of the vascular endothelium in thrombotic thrombocytopenia purpura and heccp syndro

Kyu-Ho Lee, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics
Pediatric Cardiology, Cardiac Development, and Molecular Genetics

John J. Lemasters, M.D., Ph.D.
CoEE Endowed Chair in Advanced Cellular Technologies
College of Pharmacy/Drug Discovery and Biomedical Science
Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of apoptosis and necrosis

Maria F. Lopes-Virella, M.D., Ph.D.
Cell activation in the development of atherosclerosis & plaque rupture, and inflammation & immune mechanisms in atherosclerosis & acute cardiac events

Roger R. Markwald, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Cardiac morphogenesis

Paul J. McDermott, Ph.D.
Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Cardiac hypertrophy, protein synthesis, and translation

Donald R. Menick, Ph.D.
Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Structure and function of the Na+/Ca++ exchanger and transcriptional regulation in the heart

Martin Morad, Ph.D.
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Cardiac Electrophysiology and Calcium Signaling, Specifically in the area of Calcium-binding Proteins

Thomas A. Morinelli, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Angiotensin II signal-transduction

Robin C. Muise-Helmericks, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Hollings Cancer Institute
Role of the Ets family of transcription factors in angiogenesis and lymphoid development

Russell A. Norris, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Formation of the Cardiac Valves and Pathological Processes that Result in Valve Disease

David W. Ploth, M.D.
Professor, Endowed Chair
Division of Nephrology
Role of mechanisms of altered renal function in hypertension state, particularly the role of the angiotensin system in renal hypertension

Chandrakala Puligilla, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Molecular Induction, Cellular Fate Specification and Patterning of the Mammalian Auditory System

Ann F. Ramsdell, Ph.D.
Adjunct Associa Professor
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Morphogenetic and molecular mechanisms that direct generation of cardiac left-right asymmetry

U. Joseph Schoepf.M.D.
Department of Radiology and Radiological Science
Clinical cardio-thoracic imaging 

Richard P. Visconti, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Role of Adult Bone Marrow Stem Cells in Cardiac Tissue Homeostasis and Injury-repair

Andy Wessels, Ph.D.
Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology
Cardiovascular Developmental Biology Center
Cardiovascular Development


Students in Cardiovascular Biology 2016-2017


Adam AkermanDiane FulmerLilong GuoDaniel Herr
Ludivine RenaudErik StrungsKatelyn ToomerJason Wheeler


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