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Portrait of two new SOT nucleus members: Dr. Sveva Bollini and Dr. Mahmoud Abdellatif

Basic Science

Portrait of Sveva Bollini

Bollini-Sveva-2019.jpgMy name is Sveva Bollini and I am a new member of the Scientists of Tomorrow Nucleus. I am a basic research scientist with a Master of Science in Medical Biotechnology and a PhD from the University of Padova (Padova, Italy). I learnt the basics of stem cell biology under the supervision of Prof. Paolo De Coppi, an internationally recognized leading scientist in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine and currently the Head of Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Section, at UCL-University College London, London, UK. In order to develop expertise in cardiac regenerative medicine, I spent the last year of my PhD at the Institute of Child Health, UCL, London, working on the cardiovascular commitment and cardioprotective potential of a specific subset of human fetal progenitors that can be isolated from leftover samples of amniotic fluid during prenatal screening, the amniotic fluid-derived stem cells (hAFS, Bollini S et al., Stem Cell Rev 2011; Bollini S. et al., Stem Cells Dev 2011).

From 2009 to 2013 I worked as Postdoctoral Research Associate in the team led by Prof. Paul Riley, British Heart Foundation Professor of Regenerative Medicine & Chair of Development and Cell Biology, first in the Molecular Medicine Unit, at the Institute of Child Health at UCL and then in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at University of Oxford. At that time my research focused on investigating the lineage characterization of the epicardium-derived progenitor cells (EPDC) following myocardial injury. I contributed to show that adult quiescent EPDC can be paracrine-activated from within the infarcted heart by the cardio-active peptide thymosin beta 4 to sustain cardiac repair. Afterward, I also described EPDC discrete subpopulations with cardio-regenerative commitment (Smart N. & Bollini S. et al., Nature 2011; Bollini S. et al., Stem Cells Dev 2014; Balmer G. & Bollini S. et al., Nat Commun 2014). In 2014 I was presented with the “Rita Levi Montalcini” Young Investigator Award from the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR). Since then, I have been working as Associate Professor in Experimental Biology in the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory in the Department of Experimental Medicine, at University of Genova, (Genova, Italy), after serving as tenure-track Assistant Professor from 2014 to 2017.

The main research interest of my group focuses on the analysis of stem cell-derived paracrine effects - including the role of secreted extracellular vesicles (EV) – to restore endogenous mechanisms of cardiac repair and regeneration, for future translational therapy. Indeed, we recently showed that the hAFS secretome can effectively safeguard cardiomyocyte and cardiac progenitor cells not only following ischemic injury, but also in a chemotherapy-derived cardiotoxicity model (Lazzarini E. & Balbi C. et al. Scientific Reports 2016) with hAFS-EV notably endowed with remarkable regenerative properties (Balbi C et al. STEM CELLS Translational Medicine 2017).

I am very enthusiastic to be part of the Scientists of Tomorrow Nucleus and I am looking forward to actively disseminating basic cardiovascular research insights among young members and promoting their cooperation and networking within the ESC community.

Portrait of Mahmoud Abdellatif

Abdellatif-Mahmoud-2019.jpgI am Mahmoud Abdellatif, a newly-elected member of the Scientists of Tomorrow Nucleus. I am a research fellow at the Department of Cardiology of the Medical University of Graz (Austria). In my research, I study the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular aging in order to exploit them in the development of effective interventions that delay, attenuate or maybe even prevent late-life cardiovascular diseases altogether (Abdellatif et. al. Circulation Research 2018). In this regard, I contributed, within my PhD studies, to the discovery of the cardioprotective and lifespan-extending effects of spermidine – a natural autophagy inducer and caloric restriction mimetic (Eisenberg and Abdellatif et. al. Nature Medicine 2016). This finding was well received by the scientific community as inferred from an accompanying News & Views Article and a Cover mention in Nature Medicine and a Cutting Edge Science Commentary in Circulation Research, not to mention being featured in the research highlights of Nature, Nature Reviews Cardiology, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery and Nature Reviews Endocrinology amongst others.

Before doing my PhD thesis, I received my education in Human Medicine (Egypt and Spain) and then I have been trained in cardiovascular pathophysiology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (Portugal). There, I started my career in cardiovascular science by studying experimental models of diastolic heart failure, which resulted in a few publications expanding our understanding of the disease and suggesting novel and potentially more accurate diagnostic tools (Abdellatif et. al. 2016 and Leite et. al. 2015 AJP Heart and Circulation).

Currently, I am working on an ERA-CVD-funded project (MINOTAUR; Metabolic Therapy for Diastolic Heart Failure), in which we are examining various caloric restriction mimetics in collaboration with a transnational consortium with the single aim of finding a therapy for the, as of yet, non-treatable diastolic heart failure. For this purpose, we combine a multitude of basic and clinical approaches, whereby interventional testing is done in vivo on various animal models of the disease and in vitro on available human ventricular myocardial samples (failing and non-failing hearts). Furthermore, epidemiological studies are carried out employing available cohorts of cardiovascular disease patients.

I am looking forward to being part of the Nucleus, which will allow me to significantly contribute to the scientific and clinical aspects of the European Society of Cardiology essentially by bringing our young community closer to senior scientists and physicians in order to strengthen the field, sow the seeds of fruitful collaborations and ultimately attain excellence in cardiovascular research/medicine