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Portrait of two new SoT Nucleus Members: Dr. Monika Gladka and Dr. Rui Adão

Dr. Monika Gladka

Monika Gladka 2020.PNGMy name is Monika Gladka and I am a new member of the Scientists of Tomorrow Nucleus. I received a Master of Science in Zoology from Warsaw University (Poland), after which I moved to the Netherlands. I did my PhD in Molecular Cardiology from Maastricht University (The Netherlands) in the lab of Prof. Leon J. de Windt, which is an internationally recognized scientist in the cardiovascular field. During that time, I have learned the basics of molecular cardiology and developed an interest in transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulation during heart failure. My research mainly focused on studying the Calcineurin-NFAT pathway during onset and progression to heart failure. This led to the discovery that the transcription factor Hand2 is sufficient and required for heart failure development and can be post-transcriptionally regulated by microRNA-25 (Dirkx E*, Gladka MM* et al. Nat Cell Biol 2013). 

After studying cardiac disease, I wanted to expand my scientific horizons and work on cardiac regeneration. In 2013 I, therefore, decided to continue my scientific career in the group of Prof. Eva van Rooij at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht. During this time, I have focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate cardiac regeneration to identify new players to ultimately generate novel therapeutics. This has involved the application of several state-of-the-art techniques, including tomo-seq and single-cell sequencing enabling in-depth mechanistic analysis (Gladka et al. Circulation 2018). In 2016 I received the prestigious Dr. E. Dekker personal grant from Dutch Heart Foundation for heart repair research. Within the research proposed in this grant I found that ZEB2 transcription has a protective function in the heart after myocardial infarction. I applied different therapeutic approaches to increase ZEB2 in the injured cardiomyocytes, either by AAV9-mediated gene transfer or antimiR-mediated ZEB2 de-repression. Currently, I am further investigating the molecular mechanisms of cardiac repair post-injury, with a strong focus on the development of novel therapies for ischemic heart diseases. 

Furthermore, I am an active member of various cardiac societies and a board member of the Young@Heart community from the Netherlands Heart Institute with the primary goal of helping young Dutch scientists to find their way to become successful.

I am very excited to be a part of the Scientists of Tomorrow Nucleus, which will allow me to promote the successes of the next generation of cardiovascular talents within the European Society of Cardiology community. 

Dr. Rui Adão

Rui Adao 2020.PNGI am Rui Adão, a newly-elected member of the Scientists of Tomorrow Nucleus. I am a Biologist with a PhD degree in Cardiovascular Sciences recently obtained at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (Portugal), where I currently work as a postdoctoral research scientist at the Cardiovascular Research and Development Center - UnIC. My main scientific interests are pathomechanisms of pulmonary arterial hypertension and right ventricular failure. 

During my PhD training, I developed strong expertise in animal models of pulmonary arterial hypertension (e.g., monocrotaline, hypoxia-Sugen5416) as well as cardiac function evaluation in vivo and in vitro. In this period, I was particularly interested in the role of Urocortin-2 in pulmonary arterial hypertension and adaptation of the right ventricle to pressure overload (Adão R et al. Cardiovascular Research 2018). Also, in the last years, I made a significant contribution to this scientific field as exemplified by several high impact original publications as first- or co-author (Adão R et al. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2019; Mendes-Ferreira P et al. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2016; Mendes-Ferreira P et al. Cardiovascular Research 2015; Hautefort A et al. Circulation 2019). Taken together, these skills qualified me to get involved in other projects at my research unit, which major focus was to find a therapy for the, as of yet, non-treatable diastolic heart failure. 

I have also maintained relevant collaborations with institutions of excellence in cardiovascular research and therapeutic innovation, including INSERM (France), Medical University of Graz (Austria), Christchurch School of Medicine (New Zealand) and Antwerp University (Belgium). As an early career researcher, I have won numerous prestigious scholarships and awards such as the Janssen Innovation Award (2018) or the European Respiratory Society Short-Term Fellowship Grant (2017). My current research focuses on elucidating the role and therapeutic potential of novel small molecules (e.g., small peptides and microRNAs) in the setting of pulmonary arterial hypertension and associated heart failure. 

I am very looking forward to being part of the Nucleus, which will allow me to contribute to improve the interaction between young scientists and senior practicing clinicians, in order to strengthen the field. I think that the European Society of Cardiology community will reap the benefits of a well-trained generation of basic researchers and clinicians who can lead the society, and the the Scientists of Tomorrow Nucleus is a crucial starting point.