Cardiovascular Academic Initiative

Cardiovascular Academic Initiative Diagram

The Cardiovascular Academic Initiative was formed in the fall of 2020 in response to the need(s) of building a more robust infrastructure for facilitating multi-directional cardiovascular translational research. The CAI builds upon MCW’s current strengths in the fundamental research in cardiovascular science research by leveraging existing assets available through the Clinical and Translational Research Initiative (CTSI) of Southeast Wisconsin and MCW’s Cardiovascular Center to support building a robust, synergistic translational research infrastructure to speed the translation of cardiovascular research to the bedside as well as find novel solutions to critical 21st century problems in cardiovascular care.

Our Goals

  • Create collaborative spaces for innovation in cardiovascular research and clinical care
  • Facilitate the translation of cardiovascular research between basic sciences, early human studies, and clinical practice
  • Train the next generation of leaders in cardiovascular research and education

Meet Our Team


Michael E. Widlansky, MD, MPH

Professor, Medicine and Pharmacology; Director, Cardiovascular Academic Initiative


Amberly Anger

Clinical Research Coordinator II; Cardiovascular Academic Initiative Program Lead


Michelle Knezevich

Data Analyst


Monica Driessen

Clinical Research Coordinator

Funding Opportunities

Patient-Oriented Cardiovascular Academic Projects (PCAP)

  • Application for up to $10,000 will be considered (one year of funding)
  • Derived from funds via the 2018/2019 Heart of the Matter fundraiser
  • Project must meet the NIH’s definition of Patient-Oriented Research
  • Cannot supplant current funding
  • Reviewed on a rolling basis over the 2021-22 academic year
  • RFA: PCAP (PDF) and Non-Supplanting Attestation (PDF).

Cardiovascular Focused Ensembles

  • In collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of Southeast Wisconsin of Southeast Wisconsin, the CAI will be issuing a request for applications (RFA) for the formation of cardiovascular-focused research ensembles. A full description of the concept of the research ensemble is included in the CTSI’s Website.
  • Successfully formed Ensembles selected for this program are eligible for an initial $50,000 line of credit to support their approach. In addition, the Ensemble will receive administrative support from the CTSI as well as clinical research coordinator and data analytics support from the CAI.
  • Applications for the Cardiovascular-Focused Ensemble formation are now being accepted! Please see our flyer (PDF) for more information on how to apply.

CAI Services


Cardiovascular Tissue Biobanking

  • In collaboration with the MCW Tissue Bank, the CAI has worked with the clinical services to support consenting of surgical patients and procuring tissue samples from cardiovascular surgical cases that occur at Froedtert Hospital. Tissue obtained depend upon the surgical procedure. For tissues, we save samples in RNALater, snap frozen, and FFPE& stained slide. A standard set of clinical data, including demographics, past medical history, traditional cardiovascular risk factors, lab chemistries at the outpatient appointment most proximal to the surgical date, and vital signs from the outpatient visit most proximal to the surgical date. If additional data is needed on the tissue samples, the CAI Data Core can work with your team on the specific information that needs to be extracted for your study.
  • List of Tissue Samples Available: (TBA) carotid plaques, aortic aneurysm wall, aortic plaque, cardiac valves, left atrial appendage, saphenous veins, left internal mammary artery.
  • Applying for Services
    • Tissue Bank Request Form – link coming soon, contact us for any specific questions

Cardiovascular Data Core Analytics

  • The CAI’s data core offers support for data extractions from MCW Clinical Data Warehouse and other existing clinical and research databases. Projects involving large datasets for clinical outcomes, quality improvement, and descriptive analytics can be supported. The future state of the CAI Data Core will include the development of diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytical tools for the study of cardiovascular disease and support quality clinical care.
  • Applying for Services – link coming soon, contact us for any specific questions

Research Coordinator Services

  • Recruitment
  • Consulting
  • Creation of Informed Consent and Study Source Document
  • Innovation and Research Interface Service
  • IRB Guidance
  • Publishing

Contact Us

The Cardiovascular Academic Initiative is currently conducting drug and/or device trials in the cardiac subspecialties listed. However, this does not limit what we may be working on tomorrow.

Please contact the Cardiovascular Academic Initiative directly by emailing


Medical College of Wisconsin
The Hub for Collaborative Medicine

CAI, 5th Floor
8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226

Program Director
Michael Widlansky, MD, MPH


Program Manager
Amberly Anger

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