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Young Investigators Awards

ESC Preventive Cardiology 2021


Congratulations to our 2021 Winners!

Young Investigators Award Population Science and Public Health


Evangelos Oikonomou – Oxford, UK

Standardised quantification of coronary inflammation using cardiac computed tomography: The Fat Attenuation Index Score (FAI-Score)





What is your study about? / What is the “cool” thing about your study?

Our study aimed to provided standardized reference maps for the interpretation of the Fat Attenuation Index (FAI-score), a novel algorithm that integrates our recent pericoronary adipose tissue phenotyping technology with traditional cardiovascular risk factors. It therefore provides a guide on how to apply the Fat Attenuation Index (FAI) technology in everyday clinical practice in order to better inform cardiovascular risk stratification.

What does it mean to you to win the YIA at ESC Preventive Cardiology?

It was a great honour to be recognized by this inspiring community and so many leaders in the field. More importantly, it was exciting to be provided with a platform to share our work and receive recognition for what we think is an important advance in the field of non-invasive cardiac imaging and risk stratification.

Which new questions have been raised by the current results of FAI-Score and Cardiovascular Health?

We are excited about applying these automated pools and reference maps in prospective cohort studies and ultimately randomized controlled trials to further explore the benefits of a FAI-score-based approach in cardiac risk stratification.

Young Investigators Award Primary Care and Risk Factor Management

Haid.jpgMagdalena Ellen Haid – Greifswald, Germany

Galectin-3 is inversely associated with cardiorespiratory fitness in the general population





Maria Antonopoulou (MA) and Christi Deaton (CD) from the Primary Care and Risk Factor Management Section, asked Magdalena Ellen Haid (MH) to tell them more about her study and herself.

MA/CD: Please tell us a bit about your study, and what attracted you to this topic. What is really exciting about your study?

MH: I believe that most medical students aim to write a thesis that has the potential to improve care and treatment for our patients. Prof. Dörr’s working group within the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) in Greifswald explores ways to do exactly that within preventive cardiology. I feel that preventive cardiology is especially important in light of the high incidence and prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Once I was asked whether I would be interested in exploring the relationship between Galectin-3 and cardiorespiratory fitness, I was beyond excited. Galectin-3 is a marker for fibrosis. Cardiorespiratory fitness, on the other hand is inversely associated with incident and prevalent cardiovascular disease. The analysis for my research project was based on the prospective population-based study of health in Pomerania (SHIP). The really interesting part of my study was that we found sex-specific associations between Galectin-3 and cardiorespiratory fitness. Considering that we are not the first to report that Galectin-3 may be a sex-specific biomarker, our findings contribute to an improved understanding of Galectin-3 as a biomarker for cardiovascular disease.

MA/CD: What does winning the YIA mean to you? What is next for you in research?

MH: I am so honored to have won the YIA at this year’s Preventive Cardiology conference. This award is another great motivation to keep doing more research in preventive cardiology to help patients and individuals with a high risk for cardiovascular diseases. I also hope that I will get the opportunity to present another poster at next year’s Preventive Cardiology conference in Prague. Hopefully the findings of my current project will be published at this time. 

MA/CD: Thank you very much, Magdalena, we look forward to reading the full report of your research soon, and to hearing you present at future Preventive Cardiology Conferences!

Young Investigators Award Secondary Prevention and Rehabilitation

Buckley.jpgBenjamin Buckley – Liverpool, UK

Cardiac rehabilitation and all-cause mortality in patients with heart failure: A retrospective cohort study





What is your study about? / What is the “cool” thing about your study?

Our study, which has been accepted for publication in EJPC, showed that in >40,000 patients with heart failure (HF), exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation associated with significantly lower odds of 2-year all-cause mortality (42%), rehospitalisation (26%), stroke (37%), and atrial fibrillation (53%), compared to propensity matched controls. Maybe most excitingly, our study was the first to suggest exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation associates with significantly lower mortality for HF patients with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

What does it mean to you to win the YIA at ESC Preventive Cardiology? 

As an early career researcher, it means a lot to win such a prestigious award - I celebrated with a beer and pizza. I’ve been humbled by the messages of support, from both well-known colleagues and professionals that I didn’t previously know – it has certainly enhanced my research network.

Why is your study important for preventive cardiology?

Our study is important because it highlights a very small % of patients with HF have access to cardiac rehabilitation, despite its potential benefit.  For patients with HF, including those with HFpEF (a very difficult population to treat), exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation seems a powerful yet underutilised cardioprotective tool. 

Young Investigators Award Sports Cardiology and Exercise

Aengevaeren.jpgVincent Aengevaeren - Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Exercise intensity is associated with progression of coronary artery calcification in middle-aged and older athletes: findings from the MARC-2 study




What is your study about? 

This study is about the progression of coronary atherosclerosis in middle-aged and older male athletes. Although exercise markedly improves cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, paradoxically we and others previously found increased coronary atherosclerosis in athletes. However, previous studies were limited by their cross-sectional design. Therefore, we aimed to investigate progression of coronary atherosclerosis in athletes in a longitudinal setting using a coronary CT-scan in almost 300 men with approximately 6-year follow-up.

What are the highlights/take-home messages from your study? 

We found that exercise intensity during the follow-up period was associated with progression of coronary artery calcification scores during the follow-up period. We found no significant association with exercise volume, but vigorous intensity exercise was associated with less progression, whereas very vigorous intensity exercise was associated with more progression of coronary artery calcification. This is important because it can help with unravelling the role of exercise on coronary atherosclerosis, its mechanism and aid in providing exercise recommendations for optimal risk reduction of coronary artery disease.

What does it mean to you win this award? 

I am very honoured to receive this award, because I know some of the other researchers who competed in this section who are doing great work. I have recently started my clinical training to become a cardiologist, which limits my time to do research, but this award stimulates my enthusiasm and efforts to continue my research projects to the best of my abilities besides my clinical work.