3CPR Shark Tank Competition at AHA19: “Fish are Friends, Not Food!”

Some of the highlights of AHA19 for me include seeing the support that the AHA and many established cardiovascular leaders who are part of the AHA give to early career investigators and to see some of the amazing work completed by trainees. Specifically in the Council on Cardiopulmonary, Critical Care, Perioperative and Resuscitation (3CPR), there were many opportunities for trainees to showcase their work at AHA19 including at poster sessions, moderated poster sessions, the Cournand and Comroe Early Career Investigator Award Competition, Kenneth D. Bloch Memorial Lecture in Vascular Biology, and one of my favorite sessions that I watched this year, the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition.

To follow my previous blog post on mentorship, this post will discuss the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition, an opportunity for trainees to receive mentorship from an established leader in cardiovascular medicine at another institution.

shark tankThe TV show, Shark Tank, is a reality TV show where entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to a panel of investors known as “sharks” who then decide whether to invest in the entrepreneurs’ businesses. Similarly, in the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition, early career candidates present their proposed research project to the “sharks” who are leaders in cardiovascular medicine. Winners receive mentorship from a mentor that is not at their home institution. Specifically, the winners receive a sponsored visit to the mentor’s institution to present research or attendance at a future conference with the mentor, the mentor will review the mentee’s future grant aims page, and there are three phone calls over a year between the mentor and mentee to review data and progress towards establishing the mentee’s research program. The AHA and “sharks” contribute money to defer the costs of travel for the mentee. The goals of the Shark Tank Competition are to highlight some of the most promising junior investigators and leaders in 3CPR, promote new ways of mentorship, and show early career members what some of the important issues when presenting research ideas are from a senior perspective.

Dr. Kimberly Dunham-Snary, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Stephen Archer’s lab at Queen’s University and winner of the 2018 Shark Tank Competition spoke very highly on the mentoring that she received after winning the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition: “Dr. Rabinovitch organized a mock faculty interview for my visit to Stanford and [I] met with numerous faculty one-on-one. I received advice about everything from chalk talk to grantsmanship to mentoring strategies. This definitely helped me prepare for my current faculty interviews. Thanks so much to Dr. Rabinovitch and to 3CPR for proving me with this training opportunity!”

Selected candidates to present in the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition had a top scoring abstract submitted to AHA Scientific Sessions or the Resuscitation Sciences Symposium (ReSS) and must be an early career investigator who is at the end of his/her postdoctoral fellowship and is planning on transitioning towards independence. Ideal candidates are looking to submit a K or AHA Career Development grant application in the next year. Each candidate has four minutes to present their proposed research program/project and the candidates can only have a single slide to support their presentation. The “sharks” then have seven minutes to clarify, question, critique, and vie for the affections of the candidates. Winners are selected by the “sharks” and audience scoring, each accounting for 50% of the final score.

This year was the second annual 3CPR Shark Tank Competition. The competition began with the “sharks” reciting the Shark Pledge in the movie, Finding Nemo (“I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. […] Fish are friends, not food!”)1. This year’s “sharks” were Dr. Mark Gladwin from University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Jane Leopold from Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Dr. Robert Neumar from University of Michigan; Dr. Werner Seeger at the Max-Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research and Universities of Giessen and Marburg in Germany; Dr. Marc Semigran, chief medical officer of MyoKardia; and Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Winners of this year’s Shark Tank Competition were Dr. Alexis Steinberg, Neuro-Critical Care Fellow at the University of Pittsburg; Dr. Taijya Satoh, postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Gladwin’s laboratory at University of Pittsburg; and Dr. Rajat Kalra, Advanced Imaging Fellow at the University of Minnesota.

Not only is the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition a great opportunity for trainees who are in 3CPR to participate in, it was very entertaining to watch. I think that since the competition was at night around dinner time, as the evening progressed, the “sharks” may have gotten a little more irritable and had to be reminded that minnows are friends. I encourage FITs in 3CPR to consider participating in the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition in the future and for all trainees in 3CPR and any other council to consider watching this entertaining competition in the future!



  1. Finding Nemo. Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, Walt Disney Pictures, 30 May 2003.



Thank you to Dr. Kurt Prins, one of the organizers of the 3CPR Shark Tank Competition, for providing me with information about the Shark Tank Competition and to Dr. Kimberly Dunham-Snary for allowing me to share her feedback on her experience with the Shark Tank Competition.



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