A report by Eleni Charla
University of Glasgow, Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences
This year the Summer School on Basic Cardiovascular Science was organised by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and was held at the European Heart House in Sophia Antipolis, France on 16th-20th June 2019. This meeting brings together academic experts on cardiovascular research, PhD students working on cardiovascular research and industrial experts from around Europe. This meeting is intended for young PhD students and young post-docs to provide a broad view on key issues regarding state-of-the-art techniques and new research topics in basic cardiovascular science.
The meeting commenced with the session on “Targeting inflammation in hypertension”. As a PhD student with a focus on basic cardiovascular science, I found this session interesting and informative. This session was a very well described example about comorbidities, meaning how an underlying disease can promote the progress of another. This was very helpful for me as the link between atherosclerosis and inflammation exists. The session finished with get together refreshments giving me the opportunity to meet new researchers and, thinking of developing my PhD, allowing me to meet people for future collaborations. During the course of the summer school, we had the opportunity to present our posters and communicate our research, exchange ideas etc. Later on, the organising committee had selected a number of posters to be presented orally. It was an educational and helpful experience. The fact that we should mark our colleagues helped me to understand what others expect from me during a talk and will help me to improve my presentation skills.
The other sessions over the next three days were equally informative and engaging with a variety of lectures including heart failure, cardiac and vascular development, thrombosis and coagulation, cardiomyopathies, immune system in vascular pathologies, cardioprotection and drug toxicity which were all nicely linked to each other. Lectures also included ‘hot topics’ like cardiac regeneration delivered by Prof. Dr. med. Thomas Eschenhagen from the Institute for Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.
The ESC always tries to focus on early career scientists and the ‘Scientists of Tomorrow’ session was introduced to us by Prof. Dr. med. Niels Voigt on the third day. There were a lot of talks on how to forward your research, write a paper and what editors expect from a scientific paper by Prof. Tomasz Guzik and Prof. Dirk J Duncker and how to apply for fellowships and grants by Prof. Jeremy David Pearson. Hearing their thoughts and advice was helpful as they are involved within the ESC and funding bodies like the BHF and scientific journals like Cardiovascular Research. Another interesting topic regarding the translational aspects of our research and how to turn research into science was discussed by Dr Giuseppina Caligiuri, Research Director at INSERM.
As a PhD student working on the role of exosomes in cell-cell communication in the context of atherosclerosis, I found the section on extracellular vesicles fascinating. Dr Sean Davidson and Prof Joost Sluijter introduced us to the world of extracellular vesicles, potential therapeutic uses and their challenges. A brainstorming lecture was given by Dr Giuseppina Caligiuri on the third day of the summer school by presenting a completely new mechanism regarding the development of atherosclerosis. I found that particular lecture stimulating and inspiring. The highlight of the summer school was the farewell dinner held at the beach. We had the opportunity to interact with our peers and the organising committee as well. It was the best way to say goodbye to all these wonderful people I met at the school.
Finally, I would like to thank the BSCR for awarding me this travel grant allowing me to attend this amazing and educational event in a very beautiful European city, which I would not have visited otherwise. I would also like to thank BHF for funding my project. I was fortunate to attend this school and expand my network, meeting dedicated and successful scientists. I think they inspired most of us to continue working hard and always try for the best. As a researcher, it is important to have in-depth and thought-provoking discussions with other researchers as it helps you view your research from a different perspective. It was a great experience for me, as I had the chance to present some of my previous work regarding the role of ALK1/BMP9 signalling in coronary artery disease, and I will recommend the event to my colleagues. I am looking forward to continuing my research and to attending more conferences and meetings.