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“TRAIN HEART” is an advanced cardiac surgical training programme focusing on the correction of congenital and acquired cardiac malformations. The programme features an innovative, patent-protected surgical simulator and 3D-printed heart models using synthetic elastic and silicone resins.

In a global panorama of medical training, TRAIN HEART focuses primarily on training in the field of cardiac surgery, and is characterised by its specialisation in the field of simulation on synthetic models (and thus alternatives to biological tissues such as wetlab). This field is growing rapidly, driven by the increasing demand for advanced practical training for junior doctors or newly qualified specialists.

With an ambitious and unique vision, TRAIN HEART aims to make a significant impact on cardiac surgery training, both nationally and internationally. The combination of cutting-edge technology and academic expertise promises to revolutionise the field of medical education by providing an unprecedented learning experience.

At the heart of the TRAIN HEART project is a patented simulator that provides the ability to simulate cardiac surgery for the correction of congenital and acquired heart disease by replicating a wide range of surgical approaches. This simulator incorporates 3D printed heart models based on a potentially infinite proprietary library of real cases of congenital and acquired heart disease.

Students on this course will not only receive a solid theoretical grounding, but will also have the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice by performing cardiac surgeries and procedures on 3D printed heart models in a ‘dry lab’ environment (without the limitations imposed by courses conducted on biological models).

The exceptional accuracy of the 3D heart models provides students with an unprecedented ‘hands-on’ learning experience, allowing them to explore the intricacies of the human heart in a detailed and realistic way. In addition, the customisation of the 3D heart models is tailored to the specific needs of the surgical procedure being simulated or performed, recognising that each surgical procedure may present unique challenges. This focused approach ensures that students can face the real challenges of surgical practice in a controlled and safe environment.

The TRAIN HEART faculty represents a pool of highly qualified and renowned experts in the field of cardiovascular surgery and congenital heart disease. The composition of the faculty has been carefully selected to ensure a wide range of expertise and specialist knowledge. The structure is as follows:

  • Professors at Padua University: The lecturers from the University of Padua have extensive academic and clinical experience in the field of cardiovascular surgery. Thanks to their in-depth knowledge of the subject and their experience in training new professionals, they are able to provide an in-depth and high-quality perspective during the course.
  • External lecturers selected from professors at other universities: These lecturers come from other prestigious academic institutions and bring with them a wide range of experiences and perspectives. Their participation enriches the course and gives students a broader and more diverse view of the subject.
  • Highly specialised and respected professionals: In addition to academics, the course boasts the participation of highly specialised professionals in the field of cardiovascular surgery. These experts have established their reputations through years of clinical practice and are internationally recognised for their expertise and contribution to the field.

Courses already held at the University of Padua Winter Schools have also used the virtual link with international lecturers from the Hospital for Sick Children (Sickkids) in Toronto (University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada). The 3D programme at Sickkids in Toronto was a pioneer in the creation of these theoretical-practical courses and is currently considered the most advanced programme of its kind in the world, with a ten-year history in the field. The partnership with Sickkids Toronto offers students the opportunity to access international excellence in the field, benefiting from the experience and knowledge of highly qualified and specialised professionals. In addition, this partnership strengthens the links between the University of Padua and the Sickkids Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Centre, reinforcing international cooperation and paving the way for future opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange.

The presence of such a diverse and prestigious faculty ensures that TRAIN HEART students will have access to high quality training based on the latest scientific evidence and best practice in the field of congenital heart surgery.

“TRAIN HEART” is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of cardiac surgery audiences. These include

  • Practising cardiac surgeons: This course provides a valuable opportunity for cardiac surgeons who wish to update their skills, acquire new knowledge and familiarise themselves with the latest technologies and methodologies in congenital and acquired heart surgery. Regardless of their level of experience, practising cardiac surgeons can benefit from this course to keep their skills up to date.
  • Newly qualified cardiac surgeons: ‘TRAIN HEART’ is a unique opportunity to complement their academic training with practical and specialist experience in the correction of congenital and acquired heart disease. This course provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to tackle complex challenges and make significant progress in their careers.
  • Cardiac Surgeons-in-Training: Cardiac surgery registrars who are still completing their specialist training can benefit from ‘TRAIN HEART’ to consolidate their theoretical knowledge with practical experience. This course offers them the opportunity to acquire advanced skills and prepare for clinical practice in cardiac surgery.

Regardless of the level of experience or training, TRAIN HEART aims to provide comprehensive and specialised training in congenital and acquired cardiac surgery, tailoring the programme to meet the specific needs of its recipients.

The training experience offered by TRAIN HEART is structured to maximise hands-on learning and interaction between trainees and trainers. A typical training module is organised as follows over one or more days (the example below refers to the simulation of one type of intervention with 2 trainees per simulator and 1 model/trainee):

  1. Introduction (15 minutes): During this phase, an overview of the course and its objectives is given. Students are introduced to the key concepts that will be covered during the training session.
  1. Briefing (30 minutes): The purpose of this section is to provide the student with a solid understanding of the surgical background of congenital and acquired heart disease. Surgical procedures will be demonstrated on the simulator and students will be assigned specific tasks according to their skills and areas of interest.
  1. Performance (two 90-minute sessions): During these sessions, students have the opportunity to put into practice what they have learnt by performing operations and procedures on 3D heart models. The sessions are structured to allow students to gain practical experience under the supervision of the tutors.
  1. Debriefing and discussion (15 minutes): At the end of the practical sessions, a short debriefing is held to allow participants to reflect on the experience, share their challenges and discuss the strategies used. This phase also provides an opportunity to elaborate on the concepts covered during the training and to clarify any doubts.

This structure allows students to integrate theory and practice, providing them with a comprehensive and engaging learning environment that effectively prepares them for the challenges of cardiovascular surgery.

Models of congenital and acquired heart diseases within the library of 3D printed anatomical models

Printed and validated anatomical models:

  • Normal heart: atria and great vessels for cannulation simulation
  • Supravalvular aortic stenosis
  • Isolated aortic coarctation + PDA
  • Aortic arch hypoplasia + PDA
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Mitral valve (normal)
  • Mitral valve (stenotic)
  • Mitral valve (posterior leaflet hypoplasia)
  • Aortic root (normal)

Printed anatomical models, but not yet validated:

  • Taussig-bing anomaly
  • Intracardiac TAPVR in heterotaxy
  • TOF
  • Aortic arch interruption
  • DIA II
  • Perimembranous VSD
  • Muscular VSD
  • Apical muscular VSD

The catalog of anatomical hearts is constantly expanding, for an updated list or for a preview of upcoming models, please write to



Yes, it is possible! For costs, modalities and further information, please write to