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Strategically Focused Research Network (SFRN) Training Program on Inflammatory Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Northwestern University’s American Heart Association SFRN center, led by Matthew Feinstein, MD, MS, studies inflammatory factors that lead to heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).  

The center, located at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's downtown Chicago campus, will advance understanding of the immune cell functions that regulate inflammation in HFpEF using clinical studies, population studies and fundamental experimental systems. It will also develop mechanistic and therapeutic targets for HFpEF, where effective prevention and therapy remain a challenge. Its work will consist of three primary research projects: 

  • Clinical: Monocyte inflammatory priming in human HFpEF.  
  • Population: Role of dynamic stressors in inflammation and early HFpEF risk.  
  • Basic: Underlying immunometabolic mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction and HFpEF.  

This center supports two-year postdoctoral fellowship positions for individuals interested in investigating inflammation and CVD. Research fellows will receive an individualized, comprehensive training experience by integrating into the center research program investigating the contribution of inflammation on HFpEF. The fellow’s progress will be overseen by established nationally recognized scientists and mentors. The fellowship provides opportunity to collaborate with other CVD Inflammatory Disease Network centers across the United States.

Trainee Program Details      

The training program, led by Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, combines experiential and didactic training in the methodologies needed to carry out rigorous research studies. Fellows will: 

  • Conduct research mentored by the principal investigators of the research projects. 
  • Develop an independent research project.  
  • Choose a concentration in basic, clinical or population science, but will be exposed to each discipline. 
  • Prepare manuscripts for presentation at national meetings and publication.  

The curriculum includes assistance writing successful grant applications and will feature collaborative activities and scientific exchanges across the AHA Inflammation in Cardiovascular and Neurovascular Disease Network. 

Program Leadership

Center Director


Matthew Feinstein, MD, MS


Training Program Director


Mercedes Carnethon, PhD

Program Details


Eligible fellows will have completed a postgraduate doctoral degree (MD, PhD, DO, ScD, MBA, or other) prior to beginning the fellowship. The ideal scholar has a background in one of the following disciplines:

  • clinical medicine
  • basic science
  • public health
  • epidemiology
  • cardiovascular disease
  • inflammation

Candidates with other relevant experience in related fields will also be considered. The fellowship is highly multidisciplinary. Competitive candidates must be willing to train in more than one area (i.e. clinical medicine + inflammation, for example). All applicants must be eligible to work in the United States.


The fellowship is two years in duration and start dates may vary each year. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

 Salary & Benefits

Salary is competitive and meets or exceeds the minimum requirements of the institutional policies on postdoctoral pay. Fellows may participate in the Northwestern University benefits providing health and dental, group term and optional life insurance, long-term disability, FSA, retirement, and long-term care plans.

Fellows are expected to devote at least 75% effort towards the fellowship and cannot hold any additional federal funding during the two-year fellowship. Support is provided for fellows to travel to at least one meeting per year related to the AHA's Strategically Focused Research Network (SFRN).


Fellows will conduct independent mentored research with one of the center's senior mentors:

Additional secondary mentors include:


For additional information, please contact Savren Nelson in the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.



Applicants must provide a complete personal data form, a curriculum vitae, a statement of interest, and two letters of recommendations. Competitive candidates are invited to share their research experience and interview with members of the Fellowship Selection Committee at Northwestern University.

Apply for the fellowship

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