April spotlight of the month
Panagiotis XaplanterisPost-doctoral research fellow at Peripheral Vessels UnitHippokration Hospital1st Department of CardiolologyAthens University Medical School114, Vasilissis Sofias AvenueAthens 11528, Greece.firstname.lastname@example.org
How did you become interested in pursuing a PhD in the field of Hypertension?
Despite having been recognized as a traditional risk factor for cardiovascular disease decades ago, hypertension is currently undertreated. Moreover, there are still gaps in knowledge regarding its pathobiology, interplay with heart and vessels and therapeutic approaches; these acted as stimuli for undertaking research in the field.
Describe your research & the program/lab (info of your supervisor) that you are in?
I currently work as as post-doctoral researcher with Professor Charalambos Vlachopoulos, who was my Ph.D. supervisor over the last years. Our research team focuses on large artery stiffness, central hemodynamics, endothelial function and markers of subclinical organ damage. Research projects are mainly, but not solely undertaken in the hypertension outpatient clinic of the Department.
Our main goal is to explore possible links of arterial structure and function with hypertensive disease and its commorbidities. This work adds to the growing number of studies pointing to the fact that the non-invasive assessment of arterial and endothelial function refines risk stratification of hypertensives. In addition, arterial function and central hemodynamic indices can be a valuable tool for evaluating the impact of pharmacological and lifestyle interventions.
What do you consider to be your substantial scientific contribution so far (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?
Among the 15 manuscripts that I have co-authored, I would pick our paper published in Hypertension Research (PMID: 20505675), that was accompanied by a commentary (PMID: 20613760), as a substantial scientific contribution.
In this paper we have explored the impact of genetic polymorphisms of NADPH oxidase on levels of both peripheral and central arterial pressures in healthy, normotensive individuals. This study provides a link between genetically determined oxidative status and blood pressure regulation even in the setting of normotension.
Describe your experience in reviewing manuscript for peer reviewed journals.
What is your favourite manuscript from a lab other than your own (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?
I am currently a reviewer for 7 journals in the broader cardiovascular field. This is a time-consuming, yet highly rewarding task, as it provides an opportunity to give feedback and assist in the improvement of submitted manuscripts. On top of that, being a reviewer helps you become a better author in terms of precision, clarity of presentation and acceptance of comments during the peer-review process.
It is hard to pick just one manuscript as a favourite; nevertheless, I would pick the Conduit Artery Function Evaluation (CAFÉ) study (PMID: 16476843) due to its importance in establishing the role of central (aortic) blood pressure levels in hypertension and clearly pointing out the fact that these carry a different prognostic value compared to peripheral (brachial) blood pressures.
What facilities are essential for your research?
We routinely use devices for the non-invasive measurement of arterial stiffness (Complior, Arteriograph), central blood pressures (SphygmoCor), carotid intima-media thickness and endothelial function (ultrasonography). A close collaboration with the biochemical/molecular lab of the Department allows us to study genetic polymorphisms and measure levels of inflammatory and oxidative biomarkers from blood samples.
Describe your unforgettable (proudest) moment in science, and the most challenging situation that you have had to overcome (lessons learnt) so far?
An unforgettable moment was the acceptance for publication of my first manuscript after, what felt then, as a difficult revision process.
A challenging situation was the departure of close collaborators and friends due to different career plans.
At which conference did you first present? How was your experience?
My first presentations were at the World Congress of Cardiology/European Society of Cardiology Congress 2006 in Barcelona, Spain. The positive feedback and useful comments that I received from congress attendants who showed up at the poster sessions were both anxiolytic and rewarding. I believe that personal interaction during poster sessions with fellow researchers that show interest in your work is invaluable.
What upcoming conferences will you be attending, and what is the furthest distance that you have traveled for a conference?
I am looking forward for the upcoming joint meeting of the European Society of Hypertension/International Society of Hypertension that will take place in my hometown Athens, Greece (June 13-16, 2014).
The furthest distance that I have travelled for a conference is Oslo, Norway (20th European Society of Hypertension meeting 2010).
How did you learn about ISH/NIN and its activities?
I learned about the International Society of Hypertension/New Investigator Network at a past European Society of Hypertension congress while visiting the exhibitors area.
What are your future career plans?
The short-term goal is to successfully complete my Cardiology internship, as I am currently at its last year. Following that, a fellowship at a lab abroad is among my plans.
Are you involved in other scientific or career associations? If yes, how is it helping in your career advancements?
I am actively involved in the European Society of Cardiology Working Group on peripheral circulation as the web editor (nucleus member for 2012-2014); moreover, I am a member of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI), the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions (EAPCI), the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation (EACPR) and the Working Group on aorta and peripheral vessels of the Hellenic Cardiological Society. Participation in these groups is important for continuous education (congresses, webinars, newsletters, journals), networking and provides opportunities for gaining accreditation in the respective fields.
What are your scientific goals? Advise for talented emerging scientists?
Finding a sweet spot between clinical practice, bench and bedside research is desirable. Regarding advice, I would like to quote Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”