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EAE research grants past winners - What did they become?

Since 2008, the European Association of Echocardiography (EAE) offers a Research Grant programme to help its younger members obtain a research experience in a high-standard academic center within an ESC member country. 
Non-invasive Imaging: Echocardiography


Discover the portraits of past EAE Research Grants winners.


Dr Gergely AGOSTON (Szeged, Hungary)

Title of the research
The Sclaire Study:  Systemic sCLerosis Assessment with Integrated Rest and stress Echocardiography.
Year of the research
2009
Host institution
Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Council of Pisa, Italy.
Current position
Clinical Doctor and PhD fellow at the 2’nd Department of Internal Medicine and Cardiology Center, University of Szeged, Hungary.
His experience
I was awarded with the research grant of the European Association of Echocardiography for the year 2009. I conducted my research at the Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy, under the guidance of Dr. Rosa Sicari. The focus of our research was the assessment of patients affected by systemic sclerosis by means of different echocardiographic techniques (resting echo, exercise echocardiography, 3 dimensional echocardiography, strain and strain rate imaging, as well as chest and vascular ultrasound). During my fellowship I collected a huge database of scleroderma patients, visiting also other prestigious institutions, such as the Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences, University Hospital Santa Maria della Misericordia, Udine and the Cardiology Department, Niguarda Ca' Granda Hospital, Milan. Since finishing my tenure in Pisa, I have participated at several important cardiological congresses where I had the opportunity to present my research (1 poster (n1) ESC Congress 2009; 2 poster (n2-3), Euroecho 2009, 2 poster (n4-5)  ESC 2010, 2 poster (n 6-7) Euroecho 2010, Scleroderma World Congress 2010 1 poster (n8) and several presentations in Hungary (n9-13)). The list of abstracts is listed on separate paper. Currently. I’m busy with the preparation and writing of scientific papers which are intended to be submitted very soon.
I was very happy to have an opportunity to broaden my scientific views thanks to the European Association of Echocardiography.


Dr Arco TESKE (Amersfoort, The Netherlands)

 

Title of the research
Effect of preload changes on left ventricular global and regional functional parameters - towards a reliable estimation of left ventricular contractility
Year of the research
2009
Host institution
Department of Cardiology & Medical Imaging Research Center, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium
Current position
Cardiology resident, Meander Medical Center, Amersfoort, the Netherlands
His experience
With the EAE Research Grant I had the opportunity to conduct scientific research in an internationally renowned research facility with Prof J. D`Hooge and prof J.U. Voigt, after obtaining my PhD in the Netherlands (Echocardiographic quantification of regional richt ventricular systolic function). During a one year period we were able to perform the abovementioned study which would not have been possible without proper funding. Our preliminary findings suggest that functional ventricular adaptations (by echocardiography) induced by postural changes give insight into ventricular contractility. This implies that ventricular functional adaptations give a better and more reliable insight into the actual contractile function, rather than any measure obtained at a conventional echocardiographic examination (i.e. at rest in recumbent position). These results have already been presented the annual EuroEcho meeting in 2010 at Copenhagen. These findings gave way to further research projects which will be conducted in the near future.
Secondly, during this time I was able to follow the post graduate course “Advances Medical Imaging” at the Catholic University of Leuven. This course provides an education in medical imaging, focusing on obtaining a thorough overview of existing imaging modalities, recent developments in clinical imaging, and novel approaches towards imaging pathology (with special focus on molecular imaging modalities). By obtaining the EAE Research Grant, I had the unique opportunity to take this course and further develop my interests and knowledge in the field of cardiac imaging modalities.



Dr Mihaela Silvia AMZULESCU - (Bucharest, Romania)

Title of the research
• Right ventricular adaptation to pressure overload (pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary stenosis and corrected transposition of great arteries).
• 3D echocardiography in assessing the geometry and function of the left ventricle.
• 3D speckle tracking technique in quantifying regional deformation in myocardial infarct
Year of the research
2010
Host institution
UZ Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium
Current position
Cardiologist in training at the Emergency Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases “C.C.Iliescu”, Bucharest, Romania
Her experience
I am glad that, with the EAE research grant program 2010, I had the opportunity to work for one year in the Cardiovascular Imaging Department of UZ Gasthuisberg, Leuven. It was a great pleasure, and I am very grateful, to have worked with a very enthusiastic team from the (EAE accredited) Echocardiography Department and to benefit of guidance from a coordinator with substantial experience in research activity with echocardiographic modalities, Professor Jens-Uwe Voigt. I am grateful to my Romanian mentor, Dr. Ruxandra Jurcut, the first to encourage me to join a research team.
My research focused on the use of 3D echocardiography in assessing the geometry and function of the left ventricle and on the new 3D speckle tracking techniques in quantifying regional deformation in myocardial infarct. A special interest was the right ventricle assessment in different states of increased afterload using the 2D speckle tracking techniques.
The experience through-out one year of research activity in echocardiography has definitely enlarged my approach and understanding of both the basic and advanced echocardiographic techniques. Moreover, I believe that the research activity improved my observational skills and capability to pay attention to details, as well as skepticism and self-criticism.
In the Medical Imaging Research Centre - Leuven, I had the chance to meet other young scientist from the Cardiology Research group and interact with some of their projects, which was challenging, but fruitful.
Undoubtedly, the EAE research activity represents a progress in my training as cardiologist.


Dr Alexandra GONCALVES (Porto, Portugal)

Title of the research
The part of echocardiography in transcatheter aortic valves implantation (TAVI)
Year of the research
2010
Host institution
Cardiovascular Institute in the Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid
Current position
Senior cardiologist at the Hospital S. João, EPE/ University of Porto Medical School in Portugal. Dedicated to advanced echocardiography
Her experience
During the tenure of the research programme I had opportunity of improving my skills in advanced echocardiography, especially on the performance and interpretation of 3D echo. I have been studying TAVI patients’, from selection to procedure specifications until long term follow-up. Under the EAE 2010 grant I have dedicated time to scientific writing and besides my main project I had opportunity of participating in various clinical studies, which significantly increased my knowledge in heart imaging modalities, investigation methodologies and principles of scientific writing.
In the Cardiovascular Institute I had an overwhelming experience. I had opportunity to work with exceptional colleagues, who shared the highest standards of understanding in Cardiology and heart imaging modalities, in an environment of effective team work, enthusiasm and friendship. This was definitive for the process of learning and to take the most advantage of a dedicated period of research.
I had also opportunity to work with colleagues from all around the world, which enriched me personally, enlarged my working connections and wide my horizons to the International level.
Currently I have a position as senior cardiologist in Hospital S. João, EPE/ University of Porto Medical School, where I am dedicated to advanced echocardiography. I represent the EAE Club 35 as Portuguese ambassador and I regularly take part in International conferences as a speaker. Up to now, since the beginning of the programme I am author of 12 published articles in per reviewed journals, 5 of them as first author.

After an intensive year in Madrid I continue to do research in echocardiography and other imaging modalities, with a clear enhanced understanding of investigation methodologies, which allows me to supervise clinical investigation and continue to work at the International level. I am most grateful to Professor Zamorano and to the Cardiovascular Institute team for the invaluable contribution for a decisive step head in my career.


Dr Denisa MURARU (Bucharest, Romania)

Title of the research
Left and right atrial size and function assessment by novel semi-automated software tailored for atrium analysis by three-dimensional echocardiography.
Year of the research
2011
Host institution
University of Padua, Italy, Department of Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Sciences.
Current position
Senior Cardiologist, PhD fellow at the University of Padua, Italy.
Her experience
I have conducted my research at the University of Padua (Italy), with the mentoring support of Dr Luigi P. Badano. During the tenure of the EAE Research Grant programme, I have been involved in designing and conducting several research lines, based mainly on three-dimensional and speckle-tracking echocardiography. I had the great opportunity to improve my research experience, my knowledge and skills in advanced echocardiographic modalities (transthoracic and transoesophageal echocardiography; deformation imaging; stress echo etc.). I have also been involved in the clinical routine of the echo lab, performing and interpreting exams with a large case mix and training residents in performing conventional and advanced echocardiography. At present, I am a PhD fellow at University of Padua and continuing my research activity, focusing on the study of three-dimensional speckle-tracking technology and its potential for clinical applications.
The results of my research activity during the EAE Grant tenure have been presented at international congresses (ESC Congress and EUROECHO & other imaging modalities Congress 2011) and selected for Young Investigator's Award competition at national congresses (SIEC 2011, National Congress of the Romanian Society of Cardiology 2011). I have also enjoyed the rewarding and sometimes challenging experience related to scientific writing and publishing process. Since the beginning of the programme, I have co-authored 7 papers published in peer-reviewed journals and other 2 submitted for publication, 2 books in Italian on three-dimensional and speckle-tracking echocardiography and 9 book chapters (2 in press).

Since 2011, I have also participated in designing and organising several educational activities dedicated for young echocardiographers (as a member of EAE Club 35 committee), including a survey aiming to provide a broader perspective on the benefits gained by the past EAE grant winners from their abroad experience, which has contributed to the decision to increase the numbers of grants offered by EAE each year. Last but not least, winning the EAE Research Grant has represented for me a fantastic work and life experience, having the privilege to meet and learn from outstanding people, to establish positive professional relationships with exceptional persons from different countries and to work with an enthusiastic and supportive team.