AHA FIT Newsletter

Spotlight on Jeff Hsu, MD, PhD - Fall 2020 issue
Jeff Hsu, MD, PhD

Jeff Hsu, MD, PhD

Advanced Heart Failure & Transplantation Fellow

Jeff Hsu, MD, PhD, is an Advanced Heart Failure & Transplantation fellow at UCLA and is the recipient of an AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in 2018. He received his MD from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and completed residency in internal medicine at UCSF. He then completed general cardiology fellowship at UCLA with the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) Program, during which he also obtained his PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology.

Tell us about your research and how you got started.

During my first year of medical school, I was exploring the aortic arch of our cadaver during an anatomy lab, and I felt bony material within the aortic wall. My instructor said it was calcified tissue and was a normal finding with age, but I found that unsettling. Within a few weeks, I met with Dr. Linda Demer at UCLA, who was one of the pioneers in the study of vascular calcification, and I started doing research with her studying the mechanisms of this process in cell culture and animal models. Roughly 14 years later, Dr. Demer remains my mentor, and I continue to be fascinated by the complex mechanisms that regulate vascular calcification. The majority of my current research focuses on using advanced molecular imaging modalities to help characterize this process in vivo. The ultimate goal is to use these methods to not only better understand the impact of calcification within areas such as the aortic valve and coronary arteries, but also identify therapies that can promote beneficial remodeling of these lesions.

What is the grant you applied for?

During my general cardiology fellowship with the UCLA Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program, I applied for the AHA Post-Doctoral Training Fellowship. I was fortunate to be awarded the fellowship to fund my research during the 2018-2019 academic year.

How did the grant help you?

The AHA Post-Doctoral Fellowship provided me with the funding to not only perform my research, but also provided resources to help me disseminate the findings of my research. Beyond stipends that supported travel to attend conferences such as AHA Scientific Sessions, the AHA helps to highlight your work at these meetings. Further, the support from the AHA has exposed me to other incredible opportunities within the organization, such as volunteering with the AHA FIT Programming Committee.

What advice do you have for FITs looking to apply for an AHA grant?

If you have an exciting research project in mind or underway, I would first identify a research mentor (if you do not already have one). Then, I would strongly recommend looking through the AHA website with your mentor to identify funding opportunities that would be most suitable for you, depending on your career stage and area of research. Once identified, I would search within your institution to find past recipients of this grant and seek their advice on how to prepare a strong application. Additionally, you can always reach out to members of the AHA FIT leadership committee to have them connect you with resources to help you through your application process.

What are your future directions?

I am continuing on my path towards becoming an independent physician-scientist. To help me through this crucial next stage, I am currently seeking mentored career development opportunities through organizations such as the AHA. My ultimate goal is to achieve the delicate, rewarding balance of basic science research and clinical cardiovascular care, and I am grateful to the AHA for supporting me on this journey.


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