Awards for two cardiology researchers
Two Maastricht researchers recently won prestigious awards at the world's biggest heart failure conference, Heart Failure 2016, organised by the European Society of Cardiology. Dr Ward Heggermont and Dr Mark Hazebroek, both researchers and practicing medical doctors, were two of the award recipients at the four-day conference in Florence, which was attended by well over six thousand participants.
Dr Ward Heggermont won first place in the category 'Basic Research'. He found that a tiny functional RNA fragment, microRNA-146a, plays an important role in the energy metabolism of the failing heart. One of the characteristics of a failing heart is impaired energy metabolism. The micro-RNA fragment was found to suppress a citric acid enzyme (DLST), a discovery that requires further research but may prove useful in the development of targeted therapy for heart failure in the future.
Dr Mark Hazebroek placed second in the European Society of Cardiology's Young Investigator Award. Hazebroek is involved in research on genetic mutations in patients with an enlarged heart, also known as dilated cardiomyopathy. He compared these patients with a group of patients in an earlier stage of the disease and found that genetic mutations could lead to arrhythmias and premature death in both groups. These findings have potential consequences for preventative treatment strategies, such as an implanted cardiac defibrillator (ICD).
Both researchers work under the supervision of Professor Stephane Heymans at the CARIM research school in Maastricht.