November 14th, 2011

Global CV Health Concerns: Macro and Micro

Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending AHA.11 this week are blogging together on CardioExchange.  The Fellows include Revathi Balakrishnan, Eiman Jahangir, John Ryan (moderator), and Amit Shah. Read the previous post here. Check back often to learn about the biggest buzz in Orlando.

First, a full disclosure: I was a Fogarty International Cardiovascular Fellow last year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Okay, now I can write about Early Career: Global Cardiovascular Health Opportunities. Well, actually, another disclosure: I only attended the later sessions, when investigators discussed their research in the developing world from Kenya to Argentina.

While it was interesting to hear what was being done in a small subset of the global health research, I feel that overall the session missed the part about “global health opportunities.” Probably the earlier sessions covered the actual “opportunities,” but I felt that the later sessions were not informing listeners about how to pursue such a career.

Dr. Salim Yusuf’s session was most informative. I truly enjoyed hearing from this successful and insightful mentor and researcher. Now I know how I should approach and present myself to a potential mentor. What was a bit concerning was Dr. Yusuf’s statement that an individual should take at least 10 years to train in research. In our society, one is a clinical instructor for 3 years and an assistant professor maybe for 5 years — the 10-year mark seems long. I am not sure that if you told a fellow that he will have to train 10 years to become a researcher that he would leap onto the physician-scientist track. Still, it is probably true that to become a good researcher requires 10 years and that one cannot be both a great researcher and a great clinician.

Regardless of these criticisms, I was very happy to see a session on global cardiovascular health, a topic that is very dear to me. With globalization, which includes both a urbanization of populations and a change in diet and physical activity, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the world, is becoming a major issue in developing countries, and  disproportionately affects the low and middle income countries. We need to continue to decrease the burden of disease on these countries. In future years, I hope that this session and these concerns will take a larger and larger part of the program at AHA.

Have you found anything at the AHA that missed the mark?

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