ICRC has awards for excellent results in doctoral studies

All the awardees in one photo, source: Masaryk university

Within Masaryk University, approximately 200 graduates complete their doctoral studies annually. This year, for the third time, Vice-Rector for Research and Doctoral Studies, Šárka Pospíšilová, selected the best among them, who, along with their supervisors, received the Vice-Rector’s Award for outstanding achievements in their doctoral studies. We proudly announce that three of our supervisors were honored with this award, and two of the awarded doctoral graduates are already shaping the future of medicine with us at ICRC.

The awards were given to those who achieved highly significant research results included in their dissertation work. The conditions for receiving the award were twofold: a maximum study duration of 5 years and a first-author publication in a foreign journal within the first quartile, with the highest possible impact factor, a metric reflecting the quality of scientific publications.

For her dissertation research, which provided valuable insights into the early detection and therapy of heart failure in asymptomatic carriers of a specific type of muscular dystrophy gene, our physician and researcher Lucia Masárová, under the guidance of Roman Panovský, who leads the Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging team at ICRC, received the award.

Lucia Masárová and Roman Panovský with their award

“The topic was close to my heart because I know Duchenne muscular dystrophy from my childhood. In our village, we had a young boy with this condition, whom I knew from a very young age. We were classmates, and as children, we helped him when needed. I remember that in the first grade, he could still walk, but by the fifth grade, he was completely reliant on a wheelchair. I also knew his parents and understood the incredible sacrifice they made to provide him with the best 24-hour care, including operating artificial lung ventilation and other supportive devices,” reminisces Lucia. “I am even more delighted now to see boys with such disabilities in much better condition, thanks to advances in medicine, despite the fact that it remains an incurable disease.”

While all the care and attention were previously focused on severely handicapped boys, it is essential to regularly monitor their mothers from a cardiological perspective. “Until I started addressing this issue as part of my doctoral studies, I considered it a boys’ disease. However, from our research results, it is now clear that their mothers, the carriers of the genes, may not have severe muscular impairments, but they can develop cardiac issues, ranging from mild forms to the development of heart failure. We find similar ‘patterns’ in them as in boys,” she explains. “We continue to include new carriers of the DMD gene in our research, while also ensuring that all previously included carriers undergo regular echocardiographic examinations and magnetic resonance imaging of the heart,” adds Lucia Masárová. Her work was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and the impact factor of her work exceeded 10.

Kristína Mitterová and Irena Rektorová with their awards

Kristína Mitterová graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at Masaryk University, specializing in Neuroscience. In her doctoral studies, she focused on a dynamic approach to estimating cognitive reserve. “Cognitive reserve is the brain’s capacity to mitigate the effects of aging and accumulating pathological burdens. It contributes to the preservation of cognitive functions, and its reliable estimation serves to refine diagnosis and select suitable candidates for clinical interventions,” says Kristína Mitterová.

She also proposed the direction in which the selection of appropriate therapy for seniors can be guided, taking into account the size of cognitive reserve. She is among the core staff at CEITEC MU. Alongside Kristína, her supervisor Irena Rektorová, the head of ICRC and the leader of the Applied Neuroscience research group at CEITEC MU, also received the award.

Michaela Bartoňová and Ivan Rektor with their awards

The same program, Neuroscience, was also completed by the third awardee, Michaela Bartoňová. She successfully focused on advanced non-invasive methods for detecting pathological brain tissue in specific cases of focal epilepsy. She received the award along with her supervisor, Ivan Rektor, who is the head of the Center for Neuroscience at CEITEC MU and a physician at the 1st Neurological Clinic of the Faculty Hospital at St. Anne and the Faculty of Medicine at Masaryk University. “During her studies, Michaela published papers in excellent scientific journals, such as Nature Scientific Reports,” says Ivan Rektor about the awarded graduate.