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Northwestern’s American Heart Association Strategically Funded Research Network in Vascular Disease

Northwestern University was named as one of four centers in the American Heart Association (AHA) funded Strategically Focused Research Network (SFRN) grant on vascular disease. Northwestern's center focuses on skeletal muscle pathology and disability in peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The center supports two-year postdoctoral fellowship positions in Northwestern's AHA funded Strategically Focused Research Network Training Program in Vascular Disease. The program provides trainees with hands-on, mentored training in basic, clinical and population-based research methods. The program takes advantage of highly successful training resources available at Northwestern and offers an individualized training plan that prepares fellows to become successful independent investigators studying vascular disease. Trainees will collaborate with other vascular disease centers in the Strategically Focused Research Network, which provides additional opportunities for networking, collaboration and learning.

Mary McDermott, MD, is the center's principal investigator, and Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, directs the postdoctoral fellowship training program.

Get to know the primary mentors, then browse the categories below to learn more about the program.


 Our Research Focus

Led by McDermott, the vascular disease Strategically Focused Research Network center has a long history of successfully investigating and defining the natural history of functional impairment and decline in people with PAD and identifying interventions to improve walking performance and prevent functional decline if people with PAD. Postdoctoral fellows will work with leading scientists studying multiple aspects of skeletal muscle pathology and functional impairment and decline in peripheral artery disease.

The center will use calf muscle biopsy specimens in people with PAD to achieve the following goals:

  • Identify ischemia-related pathologic, metabolic and mitochondrial abnormalities in calf muscle of people with PAD
  • Establish associations of these specific calf muscle abnormalities with mobility loss
  • Identify novel therapeutic interventions that target these specific calf muscle abnormalities in order to improve functional performance, quality of life and mobility in people with PAD
The three primary research projects that the Northwestern Center will conduct are:
  • Clinical: Nicotinamide riboside with and without resveratrol to improve functioning in PAD: the NICE Trial. Principal Investigator: Mary McDermott, MD
  • Population/Epi: Mitochondrial dysfunction and disability in peripheral artery disease. Principal Investigator: Philip Greenland, MD
  • Basic: Calf muscle mitochondrial dysfunction and impaired autophagy in peripheral artery disease; Principal Investigator: Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, PhD


Trainees will be expected to conduct an independent mentored research project. Fellows will choose a concentration in basic, clinical or population sciences.

Fellows will be expected to prepare manuscripts for presentation at national meetings and publication. The curriculum includes assistance writing successful grant applications.


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 but other expertise will also be considered: clinical medicine, basic science, public health, epidemiology, mitochondrial disease or cellular biology. The fellowship is highly multidisciplinary. Competitive candidates will be willing to train in more than one area (e.g., clinical medicine and mitochondrial disease). All applicants must be eligible to work in the United States.

Additional Eligibility Criteria

  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Pending permanent resident (must have applied for permanent residency and have filed Form I-485 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and have received authorization to legally remain in the U.S., having filed an Application for Employment Form I-765)
  • E-3 Visa – specialty occupation worker
  • H1-B Visa – temporary worker in a specialty occupation
  • O-1 Visa – temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences
  • TN Visa – NAFTA professional
  • J-1 Visa – exchange visitor
  • F-1 Visa – student
  • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations and NATO

All awardees must meet the citizenship criteria throughout the duration of the award.


The fellowship is two years in duration. Typically, fellows will begin in July. However, start dates may vary each year.

 Salary & Benefits

The salary is competitive. Fellows may participate in the Northwestern University health and dental, group term and optional life insurance, long-term disability, FSA, retirement and long-term care plans. Fellows are expected to devote 100 percent effort toward 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 Strategically Focused Research Network.

 How to Apply

Applicants must provide a completed personal data form, a statement of interest and two letters of recommendation. Competitive candidates are invited to share their research experience and interview with members of the fellowship selection committee at Northwestern University.


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