Cardiovascular and Renal Sciences

The graduate program in cardiovascular and renal physiology enables students to pursue research and academic studies in selected cardiovascular and renal physiology topics towards the MSc or PhD degree. Strengths of the faculty lie in the areas of hypertension and stroke related research, and the neural control of the vasculature, heart and blood pressure. The faculty participating in the program consist of basic cardiovascular scientists and cardiovascular and renal clinicians. Teaching within the program is integrated with the M.D. program and involves courses taught by both basic scientists and clinicians. This integrated teaching is designed to provide the graduate student with an understanding of cardiovascular renal physiology and pharmacology and its application to disease. Research projects carried out within the program will usually be supervised by the basic science faculty.

Students wishing to enter the graduate program will arrange a supervisor who will sponsor their entry into the graduate program and arrange the appropriate financial support with the School of Graduate Studies. Students will be required to take a minimum of two full graduate courses to obtain the MSc degree, and three full courses to obtain the PhD degree. One course (Med. 6140) is mandatory for both the MSc and PhD programs. The other course(s) for the program can be chosen from Med. 6141, 6142, 6143 or 6144 or any other graduate course offered by the BioMedical Sciences faculty.

Students admitted or transferring into the PhD program will be required to pass a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination will be taken by the end of the seventh semester of the PhD program. The examination consists of both written and oral components and follows the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies.

Program Activities

Students within the program will be expected to participate in program activities such as the Cardiovascular and Renal Journal Club/Seminar Series.

The Cardiovascular and Renal Journal Club/Seminar Series are devoted to special topic presentations, presentation of research ideas or ongoing research and technique workshops. Graduate students along with the faculty will be requested to act as regular presenters in the latter activities. Outside speakers invited by the Cardiovascular Research Group will also present seminars during this time period.


Medicine 6140 (Basic Cardiovascular and Renal Physiology)

The sessions are presented by members of the Faculty of Medicine and by physicians working at the Memorial University Health Science Centre. This course consists of 99 lectures (about 45 minutes each), 5 laboratory sessions (2 hours each) and 16 tutorial sessions (2 hours each), covering cardiovascular, renal physiology, pathology and pharmacology topics relating to medicine. In these sessions, graduate students will attend lectures and participate in laboratory and tutorial sessions with 1st year medical students. The graduate students will be examined with two term and one final written exam. In addition, each graduate student is expected to submit an essay (about 10 typed pages) relating to a cardiovascular and/or renal physiology topic. The final grade for the course will be based on the students performance in the three written exams. The essay for the course will be judged on a pass/fail basis. This course is offered from April 1 to July 1 every year and is a prerequisite course for all graduate students within the Cardiovascular and Renal graduate program.

Medicine 6141 (Cardiovascular/Renal Techniques)

This course will consist of demonstrations of common preparations and techniques used to study the cardiovascular and renal system. Isolated renal and mesenteric vascular perfusion techniques used to study alterations in vascular resistance to flow in response to nerve stimulation and the infusion of agonists along with the use of a Halpern type bath to study the microvasculature will be demonstrated. Interpretation of dose response relations will be discussed in relation to normal and abnormal physiology. Clinical chemistry associated with the detection of renal and heart abnormalities as well as the presence of diabetes will also be demonstrated. The methodology related to the measurement of creatine clearance in rats will be outlined. Surgical techniques related to the in vivo arterial/venous catherization techniques and in vivo nerve activation will also be shown. Electrophysiological techniques involving the in vivo measurement of nerve activity and the in vitro measurements of smooth muscle and heart cell membrane potential will be demonstrated. Students will be asked to perform a small laboratory project using a technique of their choice outside their normal area of expertise. Attendance at the demonstrations and a write-up of the project, along with a critical appraisal of the limitations and benefits of the technique in the form of an essay, will be used to provide a student grade for the course.

Medicine 6142 (Special Topics in Cardiovascular/Renal Physiology)

This will consist of a course in which a students will undertake a comprehensive literature research or other directed study pertaining to a cardiovascular/renal topic of interest. The student will be assigned a supervisor for their topic and will meet on a bi-weekly basis to discuss their literature research progress. In four months period of time the student will be expected to provide a detailed review of the subject area between 50 to 75 double- spaced typed pages in length, and present a one-hour seminar to the cardiovascular/renal faculty. A grade will be assigned based on the quality of the review and seminar presentation.

Medicine 6143 (Cardiovascular Anatomy)

This course will consist of an examination of the principles of organization of the cardiovascular system and a comparison of the cardiovascular system of man and common experimental animals. The course will consist of a combination of tutorials, lectures and laboratory exercises totaling 40 contact hours. The course lectures will examine the histology and ultra structural features of the heart, coronary, pulmonary, cerebral, renal and splanchnic circulation and the laboratory exercises will involve the study of the heart and circulation of man using cadaver material and radiography. Catheterization techniques involving humans will be demonstrated and students will perform angiographic techniques involving experimental animals. The students will also participate in five problem-based tutorials (two hours each). Evaluation will be made on the basis of tutorial (25%), laboratory (40%) and final exam (35%) performance.

Medicine 6144 (Cardiovascular/Renal Pathophysiology)

This course will discuss selected topics in cardiovascular/renal pathology. Alterations in cardiovascular and renal structure, function and pharmacology will be discussed in relation to hypertension, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and renal failure. The course will consist of a one-hour presentation by faculty members on selected topics. The faculty member will subsequently distribute a list of subtopics related to the presentation along with starting reference material. The students will then be asked to research the subtopic of their choice and present their literature search in the form of a seminar to the class the following week. This process will be repeated on a weekly basis. At the end of the course the students will be required to write an essay relating to an approved topic discussed during the course. The students will be graded on the basis of the quality of their seminar presentations, participation in postseminar discussions and the quality of the written essay.


University Fellowships -- University fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis to outstanding students by the School of Graduate Studies upon the recommendation of the Faculty of Medicine. 

Cardiovascular and Renal Graduate Student Award -- A $400 award will be given to the graduate student with the highest 'A' level grade average in Medicine 6140.

Colman Graduate Student Award -- This award, valued at $1,000, is made annually to the graduate student in the Faculty of Medicine deemed to have excelled in all aspects of his/her program of study. Applications are accepted by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies (Medicine) and should be accompanied by a letter of support from the student's supervisor.

Burness Graduate Student Award -- This prize is awarded annually to the MSc student in the Faculty of Medicine deemed to have excelled in all aspects of his/her program of study. Applications are accepted by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies (Medicine) and should be accompanied by a letter of support from the student's supervisor.

Participating Faculty

Daneshtalab, N., PhD (Alberta) 1) cardiovascular and cerebrovascular physiology, pharmacology, and signaling alterations 2) hemorrhagic stroke and chronic inflammation animal models 3) pharmacological interventions for vascular disease; cannabinoids, RAS system 4) vascular imaging
Fraser, G.M., PhD (Ontario) 1) skeletal muscle microvascular blood flow regulation and mass transport 2) oxygen and carbon dioxide mediated regulatory mechanisms 3) manipulation of tissue microenvironment using microfluidic devices 4) microvascular defects in inflammatory disease and type 2 diabetes.
Stuyvers, B.D., PhD (France). 1) muscle micro-physiology: sarcomere mechanics, Excitation-Contraction Coupling, Ca2+ signaling, 2) application to cardiac diseases: Cellular and molecular origins of cardiac arrhythmias and mechanisms of development of congestive heart failure (CHF) after myocardial infarction.
Tabrizchi, R., PhD (British Columbia). 1) Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 2) Heart Failure. 3) Venous circulation. 4) Receptor kinetics.
Zechariah, A., PhD (Germany) - By utilizing blood vessel function assays, in vivo imaging, molecular biological and histological techniques, and animal models, our research aims to understand: 1) Cerebral blood flow regulation and its relevance during health and disease 2) Vascular regulatory mechanisms and their role in cardiovascular hemodynamics 3) Neuroprotective and neurorestorative strategies for ischemic stroke 4) Molecular mechanisms that govern homeostasis in the brain microenvironment 5) Contributions of vascular comorbidities in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.