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Forging an ESC that is ‘fit for the future’

ESC Congress News 2019 - Paris, France

It’s been a very busy year for the ESC Board since they began their term in August 2018. President of the ESC, Professor Barbara Casadei (University of Oxford, Oxford, UK) describes important progress from the last 12 months and plans in the pipeline:

Prof. Barbara Casadei“One of our first steps was to look at feedback received from the ESC C-Change (culture change) survey on what members expect from the ESC and what they would like us to provide. We agreed on a set of values to underpin our agenda for change and to promote cohesive integration between all parts and all members of the ESC, namely, being trustworthy, transparent, helpful and cooperative, pursuing excellence at all times, and ensuring that all our actions fit with the ESC’s mission.

Based on these values and the need for a serious governance framework, we embarked on a revision of the ESC Statutes and continued the work of ESC Past-President, Jeroen Bax, on refining processes for Declarations of Interest. This issue is particularly important for those involved with ESC Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Guideline development process itself has also been revised. Changes to Task Forces include limiting the number of times a member can be involved, setting a cap on the external remuneration that Chairs can receive, using scouts to identify new Task Force Chairs, including methodologists in all Task Forces, involving patients and also employing a formal voting system for main recommendations. We are very grateful to the ESC Committee for Practice Guidelines, its Chair, Professor Stephan Windecker, and the ESC staff for making all of this happen.

Patients are at the heart of what the ESC stands for and we have made some important progress in working together with patients to advance the mission of the ESC. Through our newly founded ESC Patient Forum, we have put plans in place to involve patients in ESC advocacy, education and communication activities (including patient-targeted materials) as well as in the development of ESC Guidelines. This has not been an easy process—training has been needed for both patients and Task Force members, but, thanks to the commitment of Professor Donna Fitzsimons, we have made excellent progress. All ESC Associations now have patient ambassadors involved in a range of diverse projects.

To peer review and prioritise ESC project and grants applications, we set up the ESC Research and Grants Committee. And as we read in the Congress News yesterday, some new ESC Research Grant categories have also been announced, reflecting the Society’s wish to further promote research investment and young people’s careers.

Training and education are high on the list of what members want from the ESC, and we are very keen to invest in these areas. As we have shown in the Global Exchange sessions, the Society wishes to provide more than traditional medical training to prepare the next generations for their future as empowered and successful professionals. It is likely that some of the major advances in medicine over the next 10–20 years will come from mathematicians, statisticians, data analysts, engineers, etc. and cardiologists will need the skills and language to be able to cooperate effectively with these partners. We want cardiologists to be at the frontline of research, not only asking the right questions but also having the know-how to answer them together with colleagues from the physical sciences. For this reason, the European Heart Academy has added a new postgraduate degree to their compendium, introducing a new MSc course in Clinical Trials together with the University of Oxford. We also have the newly ratified Council on Cardiovascular Genomics (see page 3) and plan to run more Summer Schools on hot topics.

esc_opening_ceremony_esc_congress_2019_wednesday.jpgConvinced that new technologies will have a huge impact on the way we practise in the next 5–10 years, we want to capitalise on the potential of digital cardiology. We now have a Digital Health Committee, chaired by Professor Martin Cowie, who will be running the first ESC Digital Summit in Tallinn in October, a first step towards the serious involvement of our Society in this area.

To avoid any complacency in our mission to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the ESC has been stepping up its advocacy activities. We have been consulting on revisions to the ICH Good Clinical Practice guidelines and also influencing research priorities in Europe via the ESC Atlas of Cardiology. Professor Martin Landray from the Advocacy Committee has recently been appointed to lead the development of new guidelines for clinical research together with the Wellcome Trust, The Gates Foundation and the African Academy of Sciences. While Professor Alan Fraser and the Regulatory Affairs Committee are continuing their very important work on medical devices. Another important step is our collaboration with the European Research Area Network on CVD (ERA-CVD) to develop the Strategic Research Agenda for CVD (SRA-CVD). This document aims to raise awareness of the huge burden and impact of CVD and to contrast this starkly with the relatively low levels of investment in CVD research.

The Board and I are passionate about improving the quality of cardiac care in Europe. As we announced yesterday, the ESC Board has approved a pilot phase of the flagship project, EuroHeart (European Unified Registries On Heart Care Evaluation and Randomised Trials). Based on the scope of the databases and the healthcare improvements seen with continuous individual-patient registries in Sweden and the UK, we would like to examine the impact of extending these types of registries to other countries. A useful bonus of this approach is that the registries can serve as the infrastructure for running pragmatic randomised clinical trials, which both capitalise on the wealth of existing data generated by national health services and combat the increasing costs associated with conducting large-scale clinical trials.

In these first 12 months, we have taken some big strides towards meeting our goals and we are committed to progressing further in the coming year. We would like to thank all of the ESC Associations, Working Groups and Councils, our National Cardiac Societies and our members for their support and dedication, which ensure that the ESC remains at the forefront of cardiovascular science and care.”



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Notes to editor

About the European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology brings together healthcare professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

About ESC Congress 2019

ESC Congress is the world’s largest and most influential cardiovascular event contributing to global awareness of the latest clinical trials and breakthrough discoveries. ESC Congress 2019 takes place 31 August to 4 September at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Paris - France. Explore the scientific programme