Scottish Cardiovascular Forum 2023 Meeting Report
Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde
The 26th Annual Meeting of the Scottish Cardiovascular Forum was held on 4th February 2023 at The Suttie Centre in Aberdeen and was hosted by the University of Aberdeen.
The highly engaging programme covered a wide variety of cardiovascular-related subjects including stroke, heart failure, diabetes, and obesity. The welcoming atmosphere and opportunities for discussion made this an ideal environment for early careers researchers to learn and form new ideas.
Following an Introduction and Welcome by Dr Fiona Murray, the meeting was opened by keynote speaker Dr Mary Joan MacLeod (University of Aberdeen) discussing the future of stroke care in Scotland. She highlighted that a current challenge in improving stroke care is proximity to a specialist service, and that these are not equally distributed across the country.
The second session was opened by Dr Steve Watterson (Ulster University) introducing AtheroNet – a European network for researchers. This was followed by the first series of oral communications. Dr Kanchan Phadwal (The Roslin Institute) presented her work on the effects of caloric restriction on vascular calcification. This was followed by Dr Nadine Godsman (Robert Gordon University) presenting her findings that chronic activation of GPR55 causes cardiac dysfunction in C57Bl/6J mice. Chloe Hughes, a PhD student from University of Dundee, then spoke about using biomarkers to identify patients at risk of major cardiac events following hospitalisation for COVID-19.
The third session was opened by Dr Jane Dymott (NHS Grampian). She gave an overview of 100 years of insulin therapy for Type 1 diabetes and how development of new technologies such as insulin pumps and continuous blood glucose monitoring help patients to manage the condition today. This was followed by the second series of oral communications. Ayman Banah (University of Dundee) presented that inhibition of integrin α5β1 improves insulin sensitivity in H9C2 cells and cardiac performance in obese mice. Matthew Lim (University of Glasgow) spoke about modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in transgender young people. Megan Simpson (University of Aberdeen) then presented her work on fibrinolytic dysregulation in vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia and thrombosis. Finally, Sara Al Disi (University of Edinburgh) spoke about how inhibiting intracellular glucocorticoid regeneration after myocardial infarction preserves cardiac function.
During the lunch break, there was a poster session covering a wide range of subjects and techniques. One of the highlights of the conference was to observe and participate in the many discussions taking place around the posters. Following this, the final of the Roger Wadsworth Competition for final year PhD students was held. Four PhD students were nominated including Cara Trivett from University of Glasgow, Shruti Joshi from University of Edinburgh, and Philipp Boder from University of Glasgow. It was my pleasure to also have been nominated to present my PhD research during this session. A wide variety of subjects were covered including functional characterisation of osteopontin transcripts from the stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rat heart, non-invasive imaging of functional pancreatic islet beta-cell mass in type 1 diabetes, and the mechanisms and functional relevance of uromodulin secretion in hypertension. My presentation focused on the role of estriol in pulmonary arterial hypertension and its effects on the bone morphogenetic receptor 2 pathway. Female sex is a risk factor for pulmonary arterial hypertension (up to four-fold more women than men) and this has led to much interest in estrogens, such as estriol. This work is supported by the University of Strathclyde and British Heart Foundation.
Dr Alasdair Leeson-Payne (University of Aberdeen) commenced the subsequent oral communications session with his work on the association of GPR75 with metabolic syndrome. Dr Mark MacAskill (University of Edinburgh) spoke about predicting heart functional outcome following myocardial infarction using TSPO PET imaging with [18F]LW223. Following this, Dr Shehroz Mahmood (University of Aberdeen) presented that fenretinide inhibits obesity and fatty liver disease but worsens atherosclerosis in LDLR-/- mice. Finally, Dr Nicola Morrice (University of Dundee) presented that disruption of the GSK3-RABEP2 signalling pathway results in susceptibility to high fat diet-induced metabolic dysfunction but does not impair vascular function in male mice.
The final keynote speaker was Professor Cherry Wainwright (University of Aberdeen), who spoke on endogenous mediators as the double-edged swords of the myocardium, with a particular focus on the role of endothelin. The conference was closed off by the award ceremony during which Professor Cherry Wainwright presented the Roger Wadsworth Award for the best final year PhD student presentation. I was delighted and surprised to be called forward to accept the prize because all the final year PhD talks were excellent. The SCF poster prizes were awarded to Victoria Reid (University of Edinburgh), Katie Abraham (University of St Andrews), Jennifer Kerr (University of Dundee) and Shawn Cottrill (University of Dundee. Oral communication prizes were awarded to Chloe Hughes (University of Dundee), Sara Al Disi (University of Edinburgh) and Mark MacAskill (University of Edinburgh). The abstracts from SCF 2023 will be published in the BMJ’s Heart Journal.
I would like to thank the Wadsworth family for their continued support of this conference and of early careers researchers. I would also like to thank the organising committee for such an interesting and inspiring day. Next year’s Annual Meeting will be held in St Andrews (hosted jointly by the University of St Andrews and University of Dundee) and I would highly encourage early careers researchers to get involved. Keep an eye out for updates on SCF: home (strath.ac.uk).