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Report on the WG Annual Meeting 09 (Malaga, Spain)

ESC Working Group on Developmental Anatomy and Pathology

It is a pleasure to me to report on our recently WG scientific meeting “Emerging concepts in Developmental Anatomy and Pathology”, which was held at the Parador Nacional del Golf in Malaga, Southern Spain. This time the whether behaved accordingly with the nick name of “Costa del Sol” and we also honoured the second nickname “Costa del Golf”, since the meeting took place on a wonderful sea-shored green and golf resort.

The meeting was highly successful from the scientific point of view.

We managed to have a three day gathering, convering major topics on cardiovascular development and anatomy and pathology. As a starting point, on Monday 16th March afternoon, we were delighted with an Cardiac Anatomy and Pathology hands-on session by Gilda Caruso (Bari) and Yen Ho (London) on two highly relevant cardiovascular topics; the hypoplastic left heart sydrome and arrthymias. Short introduction lectures on the developmental and genetic bases underling these syndromes enhanced the links between cardiac anatomists/pathologists and developmental biologists. Full registry of audience was acclaimed, raising therefore many interesting questions. The introductory day was heralded with a superb keynote lecture by Jose Luis Gomez-Skarmeta (Seville), who allow us to understand a bit more in-depth the complexity of genome regulation and their current functional genomics approaches to unravel so.

The second day, Tuesday 17th March, we have had the soul of the meeting, since the entire day was devoted to science, even though the sunny day was claiming us to go for a walk on the sea shore. We initiated our sessions with seminal works about the transcriptional and signalling pathways that regulate early cardiac development by Robert Kelly (Marseille) and Virginio Garcia-Martinez (Badajoz), respectively. Lineage tracing was followed by Jorge Dominguez (Jaen) and Laura Padron (Madrid) and a short but fruitful discussion as how many cardiac fields are forming the heart was thereafter organized. The complexity of cardiac regulatory mechanisms was illustrated by several contributions such as the genome-wide search for Nkx2.5 binding sites (Catherine Shang, London), the putative role of the transcription factor Hand1 in cardiac physiopathogical conditions such as heart failure (Ross Breckenridge, London) and the role of microRNAs in cardiac development and disease (Houria Daimi, Jaen). New avenues for heart development were also sensed in our meeting as illustrated by the contribution of Catalina Hernandez (Madrid) on the novel roles of classically neural-related enzymes during cardiogenesis.

Finally, the last day of the meeting, Wednesday 18th March,  we have dual contributions, both from the developmental biologists as reported by Jose Luis de la Pompa (Madrid) on novel insights on the role of Notch signalling during cardiovascular development, other contributions were linking developmental biology and adult diseases as reported by Marco de Ruiter (Leiden) on the marternal transmission of atherosclerosis and finally other contributions were more based on pure anatomical grounds such as that reported by Gilda Caruso (Bari) on  the developmental anomalies of the aortic valve or that given by Gonzalo Moscoso (Granada) on the existence and functional importance of the ductus venosus.

At the end of the meeting, several things were highlighted. First and the most important one was the designation of Ross Breckenrigde (Mill Hill, London, UK) as the 2009 Pexieder awardee. His commitment as MD to play attention to basic and translational research was of great importance for the jury, as well as, of course his excellent presentation on the role of Hand1 during cardiac heart failure. Secondly, it was enhanced our WG commitment to develop and eventually become the reference meeting point in Europe for cardiovascular developmental  biologists, linking therein also specialists on cardiovascular anatomy and pathology. On our way to achieve so, we encourage all our WG members to participate on the first meeting of the ESC Council of Basic Cardiovascular Sciences (CBCS), of which our WG is a founding member, in Berlin, July 2010 . In the same line of our commitment to the “Frontiers in Cardiovascular Sciences meeting” in Berlin 2010, our WG will not gather together that year but we look forward to do so in Prague 2011.


In summary, to my understanding, our WG scientific meeting in Málaga was a great sucess, where we enjoyed the quality of science together with a relaxing and sunny atmosphere in Southern Spain. As not everything was excellent, probably one of the drawback of enjoying Southern Spain was the abundancy (and probably the quality too) of food, both at lunch and dinner!! Probably many of you now do understand the cause-effect relationship between siesta and Southern Spain!!

To end, I would like to thanks all the participants and speakers for their commitment to come to our meeting and we look forward to see you in Berlin 2010, en route to Prague 2011.

Best regards,


Diego Franco - Chairman of the ESC WG Developmental Anatomy and Pathology