Cardiovascular Research

Research area

In the western world, cardiovascular diseases are still one of the most prevalent causes for morbidity and overall mortality. On a global scale, research performed in this area aims to enhance knowledge on acquired and inherited cardiovascular diseases in order to improve therapeutic options for these disorders. Within the context of the PhD programme Cardiovascular Research, the research in Utrecht is focused on a selected number of cardiac (e.g. cardiomyopathies, myocardial infarction, heart failure) and vascular diseases (e.g. atherosclerosis, aneurysms, stroke). PhD candidates enrolled in the programme are engaged in research towards the prevention, diagnosis, molecular mechanisms, gender differences and therapeutical leads for these diseases. Their approaches include the whole spectrum from clinical activities to basic research: clinical epidemiology / clinical trials, imaging, data science /artificial inteligence, regenerative medicine / stem cells, disease modeling in cell systems and animal models, and molecular approaches like genomics / transcriptomics / proteomics. The PhD education offered by the programme reflects these interests.

The PhD candidates are offered the opportunity to explore the areas from the level of molecular biology to patient care.

Associated research groups

All information regarding our researchers and research groups can be found at the programme’s website.

Profile of prospective PhD candidates

Prospective PhD candidates should have a MSc degree (either Dutch or a foreign equivalent) in Life Sciences (e.g. medicine, biomedical sciences, biology). They also have to be highly motivated and capable of doing research independently but also working in a team. The interest in cardiovascular disease should be apparent from the pre-education, e.g. through knowledge of (patho)physiology and pathology of heart and vessels obtained during Bachelor’s and Master’s studies in Life Sciences.

Mission of the training programme

The programme aims to challenge PhD candidates to gain more in-depth knowledge of (pre)clinical cardiovascular research. In a multidisciplinary setting PhD candidates participate in research and in meetings, symposia and courses on the (patho)physiology of heart and vessels. Topics include state-of-the-art methodology (including cell systems and animal models), disease modeling, therapeutic options and valorisation. Via this, PhD candidates are offered the opportunity to explore the areas from the level of molecular biology to patient care. Besides theoretical education the programme aims to train academic researchers in exceeding the limits of their own project.

After completion of the programme, the PhD candidate

  • has profound knowledge of cardiac and vascular diseases and disease mechanisms;
  • is able to communicate and collaborate with peers and other scientists in the Netherlands and abroad;
  • can operate independently;
  • can formulate new research questions and write grant proposals;
  • is able to communicate with the broad scientific community on an academic level, and with the general public;
  • will have insight into the various possibilities to develop his/her career according to personal interests.

Training programme

Jongbloed seminars

Every first Thursday of the month an invited (inter)national speaker presents a topic relevant to the cardiovascular research field. PhD candidates of the programme are expected to be present and participate in the discussion sessions. Suggestions for speakers for these sessions can be send to the programme organization.

Cardiovascular courses

The programme organizes every year at least one PhD course on topics relevant to the cardiovascular research field. Alternately the following courses are offered:

  1. State-of-the-art animal models and cell systems in cardiovascular disease;
  2. Sophisticated laboratory techniques in cardiovascular research;
  3. Innovations in clinical cardiovascular medicine.

Besides these programme-specific courses, the programme stimulates and supports PhD candidates to participate in the PhD courses organized by the Dutch Heart Foundation (i.e. Cardiac function & adaptation; Vascular biology & pathology; Next level cardiovascular course) and the Vascular medicine course organized by the Dutch Vascular Forum.

PhD candidate retreat and luncheon meetings

On a regular basis a one-day PhD retreat and luncheon meetings are organized for the programme's PhD candidates. A representative PhD committee composes a programme for these events by inviting internal and/or external speakers on topics considered important for their (scientific) development. Besides the developmental aspects, these meetings are also meant to facilitate contact between the programme's PhD candidates and to increase their community feeling.

The training programme and credits to be earned with each part can be found at the programme’s website.

Programme organization

Programme director

Prof. M.A. Vos, PhD

Programme coordinator

M.F.A. Bierhuizen, PhD

More Information about this programme

Visit the Cardiovascular Research website or mail to