The CCVR supports and oversees the NIH funded and University of Illinois approved degree program concentration that enables graduate students (Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D) the opportunity to receive the Ph.D. degree conferred with a concentration in Cardiovascular Science.

Important to the mission of our Center is the education of our students. Indeed, no one department at UIC has the pool size of students and faculty necessary to support the cardiovascular coursework needed to train our leaders for tomorrow. This goal is met by opening our classroom to students from across campus, and engaging select faculty to support this interdepartmental effort.

Currently the CCVR offers four course electives. These include concepts of Myocardial Contraction, Heart Pathophysiology, Methods of Experimentation & Clinical Studies of the Heart, and Advanced Seminar Topics in the Cardiovascular Sciences. Course lectures are provided by faculty from the CCVR that include clinicians to enhance interaction with our clinical departments. Completion of the coursework, together with laboratory studies focused on the heart, enables students from participating departments to receive their Ph.D. degree conferred with a concentration in Cardiovascular Science. This program makes our students all the more competitive.

If you are a graduate student at UIC currently working in a laboratory with cardiovascular interests / research, and not familiar with the CCVR's various programs, contact us. Let's get you connected!

J. Michael O'Donnell, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Graduate Education Director, CCVR

Graduate Degree Concentration in Cardiovascular Science
The Ph.D. Concentration in Cardiovascular Sciences is supported by two National Institutes of Health Training grants. Students enrolled in the program access courses and laboratory research training that engages them in the leading topics in current cardiovascular science, addressing fundamental mechanisms and disease processes. Students in the following graduate programs are eligible to complement their PhD degree with a Concentration in Cardiovascular Science:

Participating Graduate Programs Level
Physiology and Biophysics PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics PhD

Graduate Training in CCVR Laboratories
The Center for Cardiovascular Research is a world-class center of excellence located on the Medical Campus at UIC. It brings together more than fifteen laboratories and facilities focused on defining cures for cardiovascular diseases. The CCVR supports interdisciplinary research in basic, translational and clinical cardiovascular sciences. Students will have the opportunity to complete laboratory rotations and select a laboratory and faculty advisors/mentors from the large base of CCVR sponsored laboratories. Two NIH T32 training grants in the CCVR support pre-doctoral training for this degree concentration. The Center brings together 24 faculty under an array of specialized programs and laboratories which include: Programs in Integrative Cardiac Metabolism, Sarcomere Proteomics & Cardiac Dynamics, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Pulmonary Vascular Disease & Right Heart Function, Cardiovascular Resuscitation, and laboratories of Vascular Biology and Myocyte Remodeling. This provides an excellent environment for interactive research and better training opportunities for students with the express goal of recruiting and training future talented leaders in cardiovascular science.

Course Work
The core curriculum includes course work which examines fundamental concepts in myocardial contraction (PHYB 516), heart disease (PHYB 518), methods of experimental and clinical studies of the heart (PHYB 592), and advanced topics through seminars in the cardiovascular sciences (PHYB 590). In addition, the joint efforts in teaching the electives, will bring in faculty from the CCVR that include clinicians to enhance interaction with clinical departments, medicine in particular. The course work may be completed to fulfill, in part, elective requirements of their PhD program.

PHYB 516 (2 hr): Physiology and Biochemistry of Muscle Contraction. This course explores current concepts for the structure and function of proteins regulating heart contraction, along with integrated regulatory processes of calcium maintenance, energetics, and gene expression. Outcome: Students will be able to describe / discuss the molecular mechanisms that underlie muscle contraction and its regulation.

PHYB 518 (3 hr): Cardiovascular Pathophysiology. This course focuses on the pathogenesis and fundamental mechanisms of impaired cardiac performance due to system and cardiac diseases. The pathology and function of diseased cardiac muscle is detailed in relation to normal healthy states and therapeutic interventions are discussed. Outcome: To describe / discuss the molecular mechanisms which underlie the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease.

PHYB 592 (3 hr): Experimental and Diagnostic Methods in Cardiovascular Science. The course structure and material will address the commonality of purpose between diagnostic procedures in the clinic and basic science procedures in the laboratory. Outcome: Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of experimental and clinical approaches to harvesting and applying data for the purpose of identifying and elucidating fundamental mechanisms of heart and vascular disease.

PHYB 590 (1 hr): Weekly seminars on advanced cellular, molecular, and integrative cardiovascular science topics presented by staff, students, and invited speakers. Satisfactory/Unsatisactory grading only. Prerequisite(s): Consent from the course coordinator. Enrollment is open to students following completion of their first year of graduate studies. Students must be enrolled in the Interdepartmental Graduate Degree Concentration in Cardiovascular Science or must be performing cardiovascular research.

Ph.D. Concentration Requirements
Students participating in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Concentration in Cardiovascular Science must meet the following degree requirements:

  1. Officially declare the intention to complete the concentration before completing their first year. Students are to declare their intent to enroll in this concentration in writing to the CCVR administrative unit and the student’s home department.
  2. Existing departmental requirements for three 10 week laboratory rotations during the first year will be accommodated through CCVR laboratories. Laboratory rotations with CCVR faculty support students in the process of selecting a thesis advisor and laboratory that is well suited to the interests and abilities of each individual student. In the event that the student has completed department lab rotations outside CCVR laboratories, the student must notify the CCVR Graduate Education Committee (which shall include a member serving as their home department’s director of graduate education) to petition for a waiver.
  3. Each student selecting the concentration must select an advisor and laboratory who is affiliated with the Center for Cardiovascular Research. This advisor will oversee the completion of the concentration requirements.
  4. Students must complete 9 credit hours of electives which are not core curriculum requirements for their respective departments. The 9 credit hours are met by the following courses: PHYB 516 (Physiology and Biochemistry of Muscle Contraction, 2 hours), PHYB 518 (Cardiovascular Pathophysiology, 3 hours), PHYB 592 (Experimental and Diagnostic Methods in Cardiovascular Science, 3 hours), and PHYB 590 (Seminars in Cardiovascular Science, 1 hour).

Contact US

Mailing Address
Interdepartmental Graduate Concentration in Cardiovascular Science,
Center for Cardiovascular Research
909 South Wolcott, MC-801
Chicago, IL 60612
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Campus Location
College of Medicine Research Building
Telephone: 312-413-1235

Program Inquiries
Dr. J. Michael O’Donnell, PhD
Phone: 312-413-8276

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