After a period of informal collaboration, Anna Savchenko officially joined our team in the third year of her PhD at CARIM’s Department of Cardiology. During her undergraduate studies, Anna studied genetic and metabolic engineering of microorganisms at Moscow State University. After completing her Master’s degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Tokyo, she continued her pursuit of bioengineering and travelled to Maastricht University to create and analyze in-house stem cell lines. Working under the primary supervision of Prof. Paul Volders, she investigates the mechanisms of long-term drug-induced toxicity in patient-specific stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and heterologous expression models using molecular biology and cellular electrophysiology techniques.
We are delighted to announce that the Dutch Heart Foundation will fund the national EmbRACE consortium addressing the early detection and targeted therapy of atrial fibrillation. The 2.5M€ EmbRACE consortium (Electro-Molecular Basis and theRapeutic management of Atrial Cardiomyopathy, fibrillation and associated outcomEs) is the successor of the CVON RACE-V consortium and integrates researchers from universities and hospitals in Groningen, Maastricht, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, Rotterdam, Arnhem en Eindhoven. The consortium will be led by Profs. Ulrich Schotten (Maastricht) and Michiel Rienstra (Groningen). Within this consortium, Dr. Jordi Heijman will be one of the work-package leaders for the computational modeling component of this project. The goal of this work-package is to create a computational framework to link mechanistic insights about atrial cardiomyopathy to clinical parameters and outcomes, with the ultimate aim to be able to use this knowledge to personalize and improve therapeutic strategies.
This academic year, two new Master students will join the team for their Master thesis internship:
Paula Casademunt is in her second year of the Systems Biology MSc at Maastricht University. She graduated from the Biomedical Engineering program at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, in Barcelona. There, she discovered her interest in cardiovascular modelling while working on a meshless model to study mitral valve regurgitation. As part of her MSc thesis, she aims to develop a patient-specific electrophysiological model for the prediction of post-infarction ventricular tachycardia.
Francesco Moscatelli, 24 years old from Italy, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2020 and is currently completing a master’s degree program in Biomedical Engineering with a focus on innovative technologies in diagnostics and therapy at the University of Bologna, Italy. At Maastricht University, he will work on his master thesis, which will focus on the development of a model to simulate the diurnal transcriptional regulation of cardiac electrophysiology.
Welcome, Paul and Francesco!
On July 1st, 2022, Xin Wen joined the team as a new PhD student. Xin studied Pharmaceutical Analysis at Hebei Medical University in China and did her Masters on Pharmaceutical Modelling at Uppsala University in Sweden. During her PhD, Xin will work on developing models of excitation-transcription coupling as part of the NWO/ZonMW Vidi Project. Welcome, Xin!
Recently, Henry Sutanto (former PhD student), Melania Buonocunto (current PhD student), and Stefan Meier (current PhD student) collaborated on a journal club article about the role of background calcium influx on heart failure-associated calcium waves, published by Hutchings et al. in The Journal of Physiology. This journal club article is now available on The Journal of Physiology website and represents the first publication of Melania and Stefan. You can read the journal club article here.
Adaïa Grundland, originally from Belgium, is a 20 year old student in her third year bachelor at Maastricht University in the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence program. She has always been interested by the biomedical field and would love to link her AI knowledge with medical content. For this means, she entered the team at CARIM in order to work on her bachelor thesis, in which she will investigate temperature-dependent regulation of ion channels.
We are honored to have participated in a recent must-read publication by Dr. Matthijs Cluitmans published in Science Translational Medicine. In this work, Matthijs provided new insights into the determinants of ventricular tachyarrhythmias (VT/VF) in structurally normal hearts. In particular, explanted heart studies combined with computational modeling and electrocardiographic imaging of survivors of idiopathic VF revealed that the steepness of repolarization time gradients, the size of different repolarization regions, and the timing and location of premature beats relative to the gradients contribute to idiopathic VF development. These exciting new insights may have important implications for risk assessment and future treatment of patients at risk for VT/VF and sudden cardiac death.
Reference: Cluitmans MJM, Bear LR, Nguyên UC, van Rees B, Stoks J, Ter Bekke RMA, Mihl C, Heijman J, Lau KD, Vigmond E, Bayer J, Belterman CNW, Abell E, Labrousse L, Rogier J, Bernus O, Haïssaguerre M, Hassink RJ, Dubois R, Coronel R, Volders PGA. Noninvasive detection of spatiotemporal activation-repolarization interactions that prime idiopathic ventricular fibrillation. Sci Transl Med. 2021 Nov 17;13(620):eabi9317. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abi9317.
On September 1st, 2021, two new PhD students joined the team. We wish them both lots of success!
Minsi Cai studied medicine at Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, China (Bachelor of Clinical Medicine) and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, China (Master of Science, Internal Cardiovascular Medicine: Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing). During his PhD he will develop novel patient-level models for early detection and improved management of atrial fibrillation and its associated adverse outcomes in a project co-funded by the CARIM School for Cardiovascular Diseases.
Stefan Meier studied Health Sciences (Bachelor of Science) and Systems Biology (Master of Science) at Maastricht University. During his PhD, Stefan will use mechanistic computational models to investigate the impact of ion-channel trafficking on cardiac arrhythmogenesis as part of an NWO/ZonMw Vidi project.
It has been a very busy and productive period in terms of publications. This week, the 99th and 100th papers co-authored by the lab have been listed on PubMed, including a detailed review on the potential role of computational modeling in improving AF management, which was accepted as part of the upcoming spotlight issue on AF!
A quick analysis revealed that these 100 papers were published in 46 different journals, including Circ Res (8 publications), Europace (7 publications), J Mol Cell Cardiol (7 publications), Cardiovasc Res (5 publications) and Circulation (4 publications).
We will try to update the publications page as soon as possible!
This month, 3 new students have started their research projects in the team. Ioanna Tzavara and Nassim Haji are working on their final research internship for the Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences program. Ioanna is originally from Greece and during her Bachelor has developed an interest in systems biology, pharmacology, development and aging, as well as diseases and their treatment. Nassim has a long-standing interest in disease and treatment. He aims to pursue a Master’s degree in the fields of Biology of Diseases with a special interest in Cardiovascular Research after completing his Bachelor thesis. Both Ioanna and Nassim will be working on patient-level models of AF, addressing parts of the VIRTUAL-AF project.
Finally, Johan van Koll, a 4th year medicine student at Maastricht University will join for his scientific research internship (WESP), focusing on improved diagnosis of patients presenting with acute chest pain. Johan previously completed the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, also at Maastricht University. After his bachelor’s thesis at the ICU of MUMC+, he was involved in a research project regarding the mechanical ventilation of COVID-19 patients.