Can we improve cardiovascular risk awareness in the Czech Republic?
12. 8. 2019 |
Dr. Jose Pantaleon Hernandez-Rodriguez is a Spanish scientist who has been working for almost a year at the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital in Brno. His has an interest in cardiovascular diseases, and he would like to develop and implement health initiatives in this city, through his expertise in prevention programs. We have asked him how he can compare his pubic health experience in Western countries, with that of the Czech republic.
José, could you briefly describe your career so far?
I have worked for the National Health Service, in the UK, both as a Public Health information Officer and as well as in commissioning roles. Following my training, in Oxford School of Medical Sciences, I have worked as a project manager and in consultancy roles, in England. I am now based in Brno, and I would like to improve the health of communities through public health prevention programmes.
And what are you doing now?
My interests includes studying the awareness of cardiovascular risks, here in Brno. This is a interesting topic, while Western state-supported campaigns to improve prevention and healthy lifestyle have had measurable impacts, that of Central and Eastern Europe is not well-know. I often see here agressive advertising of alcoholic beverages and tobacco. I would like to improve this.
Is it real at all?
There are very real differences between cardiovascular mortality in western and eastern Europe. The Czech Republic has a higher mortality compared to neighboring Western countries. This is probably related to lifestyle, which can be theoretically modified not only by individual choice, but also aided by policies proposed towards reducing the consumption of alcohol and tobacco at state level, and by local politicians. Paradoxically, aggressive marketing campaigns of tobacco companies, coupled with historically a very high alcohol consumption, have made Eastern European countries an ideal place to implement effective and measurable public health campaigns.
Do you have any evidence this is the case here in Brno?
Yes, certainly, thanks to the Kardiovize Brno 2030 project. Since its start, in 2011, is the most comprehensive cardiovascular prevention program in Central and Eastern Europe. It has analyzed the health of the population of the city of Brno, as well as mapped cardiovascular risk factors in as much as one percent of its citizens, providing strength to our findings. Results showed a very high proportion of men (91%) and women (79%) reporting less than recommended fruit or vegetable intake, it also found that over a quarter of participants were smokers. This, together with other lifestyle factors may affect the rate of cardiovascular disease in Brno.
We are helping disseminate this information through scientific publications and conferences. Kardiovize Brno 2030 is aiming to a wider audience, so that programs looking at improving risk factors work not only in Brno, but throughout the country.
And are we able to contribute to the implementation of specific programs?
This is, of course, the BIG question, are we able to translate research into practice? I am optimistic. Experience from foreign settings provide evidence that raising awareness of risk factors such as cholesterol, high blood pressure or smoking can be effective at town, municipality level and beyond. Is a matter of addressing this issue outside the academic arena. Specific impacts such as reducing health care costs perhaps may be an argument strong enough to plan and implement an appropriate public health strategy.
I will definitely return to Brno, young scientist promises
8. 8. 2019 |
For two months, she participated in our research and worked with neural cells. Katja Klosterman came to the International Clinical Research Center of St. Anne's University Hospital Brno from the United States for an internship and gained valuable experience under the leadership of Gorazd B. Stokin, the leader of the center. In an interview, she told us how she liked working with cells and what impressions Brno made on her.
Katja, what or who brought you to the scientific career, was it your childhood dream, or did it come later?
When I was younger, I actually wanted to become a dentist. I remember being obsessed with this toy that I had that allowed me to pretend I was a dentist when I was a kid. It wasn’t until I grew older that I saw a commercial for a nonprofit that repairs cleft palates that I realized I wanted to do more in the world of global health. I remember watching this commercial and saying “I want to do that one day.” Since then, my passion for science and medicine has jumped a bit around. While I’ve always been incapacitated with a curiosity for medicine, the end focus of my scientific career has always revolved around creating the greatest impact for underserved populations. This dream of mine continues to grow as I learn more about the health challenges that underserved populations have to face every day.
What exactly did you study in the US?
I am currently in my fourth year of my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry with a certificate in Cross Sector Leadership at Arizona State University.
And what brought you to Brno?
It’s actually kind of a funny story that starts with defeat. I had spent the past year pursuing research in Dr. Yonas Geda’s Translational Neurosciences and Aging Project at the Mayo Clinic. Within that time, I poured my heart and soul into a project for a small grant that my University was offering students that would have allowed me to research the stigmatization of mental health in five low income countries. Through the extensive mentorship and support that Dr. Geda had offered me as my mentor, I made it to the final stage of this competitive grant. Unfortunately, it came down to me not receiving the grant, which as you can imagine, was heartbreaking. After that, Dr. Geda and I reconvened to have a discussion about where I wanted to go from there. I mentioned that I had wanted to get more hands-on, experimental research in the future to help me determine if I wanted to choose the MD/PhD path that I had been wondering about for so long. And that’s when he mentioned the opportunity to work in Dr. Gorazd Stokin’s lab at FNUSA-ICRC in Brno. Ecstatic to hear about this, I immediately threw myself into reading about the research that Dr. Stokin’s lab was doing.
For awhile, I really couldn’t believe that I would have the opportunity to work with neural cells while living abroad in Brno at Dr. Stokin’s lab and thought it was too good to be true. I learned so much about research and neuroscience during my time at the ICRC this summer that I am so incredibly grateful for the experience.
And what are your impressions of the internship, will it help you in your next career?
I have always wanted to use my future education and career to help solve global health issues that impact so many. Whether that be in the field of research or in the field of medicine, this internship allowed me to further solidify my passion for science and even led me to discover my love for neuroscience in particular.
What was your idea of the Czech Republic before you arrived here?
To be quite honest, I hadn’t really considered pursuing research in the Czech Republic before Dr. Geda had mentioned it. I asked a couple of my friends that had been to the Czech Republic what they thought of it when I realized that I might be going to Brno for the summer. They had nothing but great things to say, so I would say that my idea of the Czech Republic was very idealistic and positive.
And what about Brno, how did you get under your skin?
Brno was one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever lived in. Where I come from, things are so spread apart and you can’t really walk or bike anywhere. That’s probably one of my favorite things about Brno- the accessibility of public transportation. Granted, I had plenty of moments of confusion and some panic where I’d realize I was on the wrong bus line or heading in the wrong direction, but there is just something so magical about living in a city that I can just hop on a couple of buses to get to work. Even when I’d get on the wrong bus line, I’d always be excited (unless I was running late for work of course) to see a new part of town.
What are you going to do now and what are your plans for the future?
Currently, I’m finishing my undergraduate thesis and am planning graduate with my Bachelor of Science in December. From there, I am hoping to pursue more research while studying for the MCAT and applying for an MD/PhD so that I may continue my education.
Are you planning to come back and visit us again? :)
I loved everything about the time I spent in Brno. The research was exciting and engaging. The city was beautiful and welcoming. I’ve learned so much through my short time in Brno that I do see myself returning in the future, whether it be for leisure or research.
The future of Core Facilities was discussed at FNUSA-ICRC
7. 8. 2019 |
The exchange of experience and sharing of information about the core facilities and internal service in various institutions was the aim of the visit of representatives of CEITEC MU and the Biomedical Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences with colleagues from the International Clinical Research Center St. Anne´s University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC). They are members of the Alliance4Life project and this meeting was initiated at the last alliance meeting in Jūrmala, Latvia.
“There we introduced representatives of partner institutions partial steps which we have already taken and those that we plan to implement in the future. It was most interesting for Slovak colleagues, so we invited them to check it,” explained Kamila Kočí, Head of the FNUSA-ICRC Research Team, Mass Spectrometry. “We invited CEITEC MU representatives to the meeting, which is logical - they are closest to us and we can inspire each other. And it was a good step, I would like to thank Kateřina Vágnerová, who helped us in many ways,” said Kočí.
Eleven people attended the two-day meeting, in addition to Core Facilities staff also experts in the field of evaluation in science. "The areas of our interest are partially overlapping, but the points of view are different, so we invited representatives of both working groups," Kočí added.
The presentations and results of this meeting will also be used at Alliance4Life's fifth session as part of the Core Facilities & Big Data training group and in the preparation of the FNUSA-ICRC Core Facilities evaluation in the coming years.
Is cooperation with the British institutions at risk?
26. 7. 2019 |
Brexit, the contemplated departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, has also impacts for science and mutual cooperation in this area. Currently, FNUSA-ICRC cooperates actively with Oxford University, cooperates with the Imperial College London, and the agreement on future cooperation is also before signing with Queen Mary University of London.
However, the future of EU-UK relations is uncertain. This is why a petition has been launched to raise awareness of this issue and to push for a deal to secure funding for joint research projects between British research organizations and institutions in the European Union. The #dealforscience petition was initiated by the EU-LIFE research alliance with EuroScience and WellCome Trust.
FNUSA-ICRC is a member of Alliance4Life, which has also been involved in the dissemination of the petition to researchers, so if you are interested in this initiative, you can attach your signature here.
Our Young Scientist Among the Medical and Scientific Experts
24. 7. 2019 |
In the latest issue of the magazine 100+1 Miracles of Medicine, in a special supplement "The Best Physicians in the Czech Republic", you will find an interview with our researcher MUDr. Ondřej Volný, who has been on the internship at Neurological Clinic in Calgary, Canada, in the position of Stroke and Neurointensive Care Fellow for the second year in a row.
MUDr. Ondřej Volný works as a researcher at the Stroke research group of the International Clinical Research Center under the leadership of Professor Robert Mikulík, where he participates in research of cerebral circulation in relation to stroke. A young neurologist has previously completed prestigious internships at Calgary, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, which is currently one of the world's leading institutions regarding brain research. The brain imaging protocol, which was created and patented in Calgary, was successfully transferred to Brno through MUDr. Volný. After returning from an internship from Canada, he plans to enrich the Stroke research team with new findings.
Ondřej Volný, who comes from Ostrava, is also one of the main authors of the textbook of anatomy in English - Memorix Anatomy. Two years ago, he won the prestigious Danubius Young Scientist Award for outstanding young scientists in the countries of the wider Danube region. He was awarded for outstanding results in stroke research and brain imaging.
The ICE team offers collaboration to external entities
22. 7. 2019 |
The FNUSA-ICRC Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology Research Group has decided to actively seek out potential collaborators and collaborating organizations – as research teams interested in participating in international grant calls (eg H2020), corporations or SMEs with the need to test their facilities in preclinical and clinical settings and researchers interested in internships.
Research activities are performed in three labs: two of them are dedicated to human clinical practice and trials; the third one is solely used for animal experiments in collaboration with the Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Science University in Brno and the Animal Center core facility of FNUSA-ICRC. Focus of the group is management of cardiac arrhythmia, mainly by catheter ablation, but also cardioneuroablation and ablation of hypetrophyc cardiomyopathy.