May 22, 2009

Fellowship to enhance student’s cardiovascular research

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Kaartiga Sivanesan

Fellowship to enhance student's cardiovascular research

Third-year medical student Kaartiga Sivanesan is one of 14 medical students nationwide to receive a Sarnoff Foundation Medical Student Research Fellowship award for 2009-2010.

The Sarnoff Fellowship Program offers research opportunities for outstanding medical students to explore careers in cardiovascular research. Sarnoff Fellows conduct intensive work in a U.S. research laboratory for one year.

What makes Sarnoff different is its lifetime commitment to their fellows. A member of the Scientific Committee guides the fellow during the research year and throughout the fellow's career.

“This is truly an honor for Kaartiga, as well as Vanderbilt University School of Medicine,” said Doug Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “The Sarnoff Foundation is a great organization that has played a major role in stimulating the development of cardiovascular scientists for the past 30 years.

“Sarnoff created a model that has been very successful. Many exceptional physician-scientists began their careers as Sarnoff Fellows, including several Vanderbilt Heart physicians.”

As a Sarnoff Fellow, Sivanesan will take a year off between her third and fourth years of medical school to work in a leading cardiovascular research lab in the United States. She is visiting labs around the country and will make her final decision in the next few months.

“I am interested in atherosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction. However, I am not ruling anything out for now; I am looking at labs with a wide array of research focuses — everything from cardiovascular clinical pharmacology to the genetic basis of cardiomyopathy,” Sivanesan said. “It really is very exciting to have the opportunity to choose a lab anywhere in the country and to have the guidance of a leading researcher in the field to help navigate this process.”

The Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation was started by the estate of Stan Sarnoff, a world-renowned cardiovascular physiologist, who wanted to promote research opportunities for the most promising medical students in order to entice them into the field of cardiovascular research.

“I have always had a strong interest in cardiovascular disease and enjoyed my research in Dr. Larry Swift's lab, which was done as part of Vanderbilt's Emphasis Program for medical students,” Sivanesan said. “Given my interest in both cardiovascular research and clinical practice, I decided that this fellowship would provide me the perfect opportunity to not only do something I enjoy but also contribute to the field in a meaningful way.”