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CardioPulse ArticlesThe EHRA: a short history and a long list of achievementsDo cardiologists follow their own advice?Science is Japan's lifeline for the futureThe Editors' Network of the European Society of CardiologyAnnouncementThe ‘Best of the European Heart Journal’ in HungaryPeople's corner: new positionFrank A. Flachskampf—promotion to Professor

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehr067 915-922 First published online: 14 April 2011

The EHRA: a short history and a long list of achievements

Harmonizing the training and education of European arrhythmologists is a main strategic goal for the EHRA

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EHRA president Panos Vardas

The history of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) dates back just 7 years, when two ESC Working Groups, those of Cardiac Pacing and Cardiac Arrhythmias, were amalgamated. During that period, the former working group was chaired by the current EHRA President Prof. Panos Vardas, MD, PhD, FESC, Professor of Cardiology and Head of the Cardiology Department at the University Hospital of Crete, and Prof. Carina Blomström-Lundqvist chaired the latter. This union gave birth to the first of the ESC Associations, of which there are now five.

The need for a strong, professionally organized European arrhythmias association had been recognized much earlier, since the rapid progress in the fields of arrhythmias and cardiac electrophysiology and the increase in the number of specialized cardiologists in ESC member countries had created a new reality on the continent.

The first President of the EHRA was Prof. Lukas Kappenberger from Lausanne, followed by Prof. Silvia Priori from Pavia and Prof. Josep Brugada from Barcelona. It was a chain of extremely prominent arrhythmologists.

The EHRA stands for well-known principles and values that mainly have to do with education and training, a better understanding of existing realities through surveys and registries, and research in the broad field of arrhythmias electrophysiology and electrical stimulation of the heart. ‘In my view, harmonisation of the training and education of European arrhythmologists is a main strategic goal', says Vardas.

The mission of the EHRA can be summed up by saying that it aims to reduce the impact of arrhythmias in the ESC member countries by improving the quality of life of those who suffer from arrhythmias and by reducing the incidence of sudden cardiac death.

The Association has a lot to show from its 7 years of existence, and an impressive body of work falls under two main headings.

First, scientific work. A large number of projects have been developed and are now running successfully, including the Europace conference. This scientific event began before the birth of the EHRA, in the days of the cardiac pacing working group, and has a record of important gatherings over at least 20 years.

Today, under the professional organization of European Heart House and the scientific supervision of EHRA, Europace is a scientific event that is worldwide in scope. Vardas says: ‘Next June in Madrid I think we will see an exceptional and massive gathering'.

The EP-Europace journal is another example. Started by Prof. Richard Sutton, the journal is now being run successfully by Prof. John Camm.

Education and training are strategic priorities for the Association. In these areas, it can point to a large number of successful projects whose main purpose was to prepare trainees for proper professional accreditation, which is also organized by the EHRA. One such project is the large number of training Fellowships which have been awarded by the EHRA.

EHRA documents, such as position papers and guidelines written jointly with the ESC, represent a significant scientific asset. The Association also has a regular collaboration with the American Heart Rhythm Society in the writing of important and valuable documents.

EHRA research networks are well developed and aim to orchestrate European institutes specializing in electrophysiology.

A second type of activity for the EHRA has been its role as a political driver of national associations and working groups in ESC member countries.

The Association includes among its objectives the harmonization of practice in arrhythmias and electrophysiology in the ESC member countries (including some non-European countries).

By contributing to the consistency of training and the joint ESC/EHRA Guidelines, and developing the special Core Curriculum and Core Syllabus, the EHRA aims to reduce the clear diversity among ESC member countries. Vardas says: ‘There is undoubtedly still a lot of work to be done and we will come up against difficult barriers such as the economic heterogeneity, but we shall keep on trying'.

The periodic editions of the White Book, edited by Prof. Christian Wolpert and others, are a way of publicising the realities in arrhythmias in a range of different countries.

A year ago, the Association decided to reorganize its membership lists, introducing a small mandatory fee for all members. This small, almost token amount was judged necessary as a means of discovering those who were sincere about remaining in the ranks of the Association.

This year, the second year of this new period of paying members, the EHRA numbers around 900 members and the total is steadily rising. Members come mainly from ESC member countries, but the number of members from other parts of the world, such as affiliated member countries, is also on the increase.

Vardas is optimistic that the Association will continue to mature as a well-run institutional organization, whose functioning and development will depend mainly upon its established structure and less upon individuals.

Today, attempts are focused on both the quality and the size of the Association. They are working towards a high-quality annual congress with around 7–10 000 participants, and an impact factor of at least 3–4 for EP-Europace. ‘Both of these are entirely feasible', says Vardas.

He adds: ‘At the same time, we hope that the influence of EHRA on national electrophysiological societies will be strong enough that, together, we can affect national health policies for the benefit of patients'.

The EHRA will also continue its proper, ethical, and fruitful collaboration with industry in pursuit of the Association's stated goals.

Vardas is confident that the opinion shared by the majority of EHRA members is that the management of sudden cardiac death is the big challenge for people who work to treat arrhythmias.

In this direction, both the profession and industry have made spectacular progress. However, more needs to be done, especially in the area of informing the public. More efforts also need to be made to persuade national governments to be more generous in their funding of relevant projects.

It is well known that sudden cardiac death is the primary cause of death in well-developed industrialized countries. But Vardas says: ‘It is sad to think that in many ESC member countries, especially the poorer ones or those with emerging economies—funding for the development of electrophysiological laboratories or payment for implantable defibrillators is quite miserly'. Here, the EHRA needs to have a strong presence, while supporting the relevant national scientific entities.

Apart from the above, the harmonization of training in electrophysiology throughout Europe is also a first priority for the Association. Finally, says Vardas, ‘We need to work together closely with the European regulatory authorities so that our practice can be developed with principles and ideas'.

J. Taylor, MPhil

Do cardiologists follow their own advice?

One question patients may ask is whether their cardiologist leads the life that they themselves recommend. Prof. Steen D. Kristensen in Denmark speaks about whether he and his colleagues practise what they preach to Emma Wilkinson, MA.

Most people are aware these days that to keep a healthy heart, a healthy lifestyle is important. But, it is easier said than done, and far too tempting to tuck into that cream cake or have that third glass of wine.

An ad hoc survey in 2009 among a panel of leading ESC experts on whether or not they led the lifestyle you would expect of a cardiologist suggested that although, like anyone else, they have their weaknesses, in general, they are a fairly healthy group of doctors.

Prof. Steen Dalby Kristensen, interventional cardiologist at the Skejby Sygehus, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, who sits on several ESC committees, says, in general the cardiologists he has met both in Europe and internationally—with of course the odd exception—do try to follow the lifestyle advice they hand out to patients on a daily basis. And, he points out, they have the added incentive unavailable to most people in that they are regularly dealing with the effects of a bad diet or smoking. Their work is a constant reminder of what could happen if they overindulge.

So how does Kristensen keep a healthy heart and where are his weaknesses? His diet, he says, is pretty good on a day-to-day basis but it can be much harder to eat well when doing lots of travelling. ‘If you're just going to work and then relax with family and friends, it's fairly easy. We try to eat a lot of fish, fruit and vegetables. But it becomes more difficult if you're travelling or going to official events. Food you get on aeroplanes is not really very healthy, so you try not to eat too much but if you have a long journey that is really hard'.

What he does enjoy—in moderation of course—is a glass of wine with his evening meal or while relaxing with friends at the weekend. ‘It's not so unhealthy to have red wine but you have of course to be careful not to drink too much on a regular basis'.

Most doctors would agree that getting the balance right is the key—no point in being so strict about your health that life is no fun. And unwinding after a long day at work is important, and a glass of red wine or two can be one way to spend a nice relaxing evening. This is an area where some cardiologists may not be sticking to their own rules for leading a stress free life—working late into the evening and taking on more than is probably good for one person.

‘I do probably work too much and should do more to relax—maybe have some half days when you're not doing constant work'. But, he says with emails and interactive technologies that it can be hard to switch off. ‘Everyone needs to find a way to relax and take time off. When I was younger I did more writing and planning talks and things late at night, but I have stopped that now—I'm not working after 10 in the evening anymore'. One thing he does try to ensure he gets is a good night's sleep, which wasn't always his top priority earlier in his career. ‘I do see colleagues who work too much and cannot switch off. Working 24/7 all year round is no good'.

A busy cardiologist may also struggle to find time to do that ‘all important’ physical exercise. The key for anyone, says Kristensen, is to find something they enjoy. Personally, he hates running but likes to play tennis. Depending on the time of year, he also enjoys outdoor swimming and skiing.

His annual family trip to the Alps is something he looks forward to with a great deal of anticipation and is always planned months in advance.

The one thing doctors are notoriously bad at is going to their own doctor when they need to. So does he know what his cholesterol and blood pressure readings are? ‘I have only had my cholesterol done about three times in my entire life', he says. ‘It is sensible to test blood pressure and cholesterol but if you feel OK you don't need to do this every month. Once you reach 40 and especially if you have a family history I would recommend checking these occasionally'.

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Kristensen ESC Congress 2010

But, he is quick to point out that he would not recommend any other tests or scans in otherwise well patients because the evidence on what you would do with the results is not so clear. ‘I would agree that many doctors neglect minor symptoms and I have seen that many times when I have treated doctors', he adds.

All in all, he sounds pretty healthy, although happy to admit that it is not easy all of the time. But where does he find his patients really struggle? Which are the biggest hurdles to a healthy heart? ‘For some people it's really hard to give up smoking and this is still a big problem although we have managed to get some control of smoking habits through increasing restrictions on smoking in public places, etc, but it can still be a big challenge'. He adds: ‘The other thing that is difficult is for very overweight patients to lose weight. It can be really difficult to motivate them and these are the two major players in cardiology'.

By the time, someone is in their 50s and they have been overweight for much of their lives, perhaps the extent of change is too much for them to overcome. Too many bad habits have been set in place and at that point sometimes extreme measures, such as surgery, are the only solution, he says. ‘The best thing we can do is raise awareness of healthy lifestyles among the younger generations. We need to do more of this kind of prevention, it's very important. It's not as easy to change when you're fifty'.

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Kristensen after a hard day's skiing, Zermatt

Science is Japan's lifeline for the future

Cardiovascular scientists in Japan are world leaders in less-invasive and regenerative medicine, and their standard of English is improving

Researchers in Japan are buoyant from the news that the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology—the main department for science—has decided to increase the research budget for 2011 by 10%.

Japan faces economic difficulties like other countries, but Hiroaki Shimokawa, MD, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan, says: ‘I think this is an exceptional situation, because we who are Japanese know, that science is the only way for Japan to survive in the world'.

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Hiroaki Shimokawa

The boost in funding comes on the back of a year of success stories for Japanese scientists. The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa completed a 7-year journey, fulfilling its mission to return with sand from the small planet Itokawa. ‘It's a miracle that we succeeded in this science project, and all the population are excited by this success’ says Shimokawa.

The country is also proud of its two chemists, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, who won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry, jointly with Richard F. Heck, for palladium-catalysed cross-couplings in organic synthesis.

‘These two news stories encouraged the population as well as the government', says Shimokawa. ‘That's why I think the government decided to increase & not decrease the scientific funding for 2011'.

It's particularly good news in a country where the government is the main source of funding for scientific research. In Shimokawa's department, more than half of the funding comes from the government, the remainder coming from other sources such as pharmaceutical companies.

Cardiovascular research in Japan is similar to other countries worldwide in terms of the methods used to conduct studies and the way results are analysed. In common with cardiologists in other nations, Japanese cardiologists are interested in conducting research on the big cardiovascular problems including myocardial infarction (MI), angina pectoris, and heart failure.

But, there are some differences in Japan on topics of research and types of patients who are studied, because certain conditions, including coronary vasospasm, Kawasaki's disease, Brugada's syndrome, and takotsubo cardiomyopathy, are more common in the Japanese population.

Shimokawa is interested in coronary vasospasm, which plays an important role in the pathogenesis of ischaemic heart disease in Japan, which is facing a pandemic of ischaemic heart failure. As in western countries, the prevalence of acute MI has been rapidly increasing in Japan. In the area in which Tohoku University is located, for instance, the incidence of acute MI has been increasing by 5.5-fold for the last 30 years. It's a big increase, but interestingly and importantly the in-hospital death has dramatically decreased from 20 to 5%.

Most medical research studies in Japan are conducted by doctors. In cardiovascular research, the country is ahead of the game in two areas. Looking at basic research, Japan is leading in regenerative medicine such as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells which were invented in the country. Research on iPS cells has received generous investment from the government.

In clinical research, Japan is at the front of the pack in less-invasive medicine. There are two prime examples.

First, low-energy extracorporeal shock-wave therapy, which was invented by Shimokawa. This year, the government approved his new therapy for the treatment of severe angina pectoris.

Secondly, Waon therapy, discovered by Chuwa Tei, professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine at Kagoshima University, and president of the Japanese College of Cardiology. Waon therapy is a kind of low-temperature sauna therapy that has been effective in treating patients with heart failure and other conditions.

Shimokawa is editor-in-chief of Circulation journal, the official journal of the Japanese Circulation Society, and Asian associate editor of European Heart Journal (EHJ). Many papers from authors in Japan and elsewhere land on his desk.

Papers received by EHJ from Japanese research groups are generally of good quality compared with papers submitted from developing countries. However, some Japanese papers have problems when it comes to the use of the English language. But Shimokawa says: ‘[The] English ability of Japanese cardiologists is improving, especially amongst young cardiologists, so I think & I hope this problem will become less and less important in the near future'.

Japanese research groups submit 48% of the papers to Circulation journal. The remainder come from China (14%), Korea (11%), Taiwan (6%), USA (4%), Turkey (4%), and other countries (13%).

The journal has a similar manuscript submission system as EHJ and Shimokawa says that there are few differences between his editorial policy and that of EHJ editor Tom Lüscher. But, one of Shimokawa's priorities is to publish guidelines by the Japanese Circulation Society, especially for the disorders common in Asia. The guidelines are published in Japanese, and this year, they began publishing a shortened English version of the guidelines for several topics.

‘The primary aim is to enhance the scientific rigour of our journal and hopefully to enhance the impact factor', says Shimokawa. ‘Guidelines are the best way to enhance the impact factor. If you look at both Circulation and European Heart Journal both have a very high impact factor because, I think, 25–30% of the highly quoted papers are guidelines, not original papers'.

Another priority is to publish review articles written by both world-class leading cardiovascular scientists as well as by young cardiovascular scientists from the next generation. Each issue contains two to three review articles from experienced scientists and one from scientists in the early stage of their career. ‘To write a review article in such a prestigious journal in the Asian Pacific country area, is a very encouraging experience for a young cardiologist', says Shimokawa.

Jennifer Taylor, MPhil medical writer

The Editors' Network of the European Society of Cardiology

The objectives, activities, and prospects are discussed by Fernando Alfonso, MD, on behalf of the Editors' Network

National Society Cardiovascular Journals (NSCJs) play a major role in education and are important media for publishing original scientific research. The national journals complement the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) official journals when it comes to disseminating cardiovascular research and harmonizing clinical practice in Europe. The NSCJs are highly heterogeneous and often published in the local language. However, many of these journals include English editions and have obtained international recognition. For several years, editors of NSCJs have collaborated and this natural impulse set the basis for a more formal and co-ordinated collaboration.1,2

The first meeting of the joint NSCJ editors took place in 2005 in Stockholm under the auspices of the ESC. Since then, a formal meeting of the NSCJ editors has been held each year at the ESC Congress. The ‘Editors' Club’ initiative was launched in 2007 as an official ESC Task Force. It consisted of a nucleus of member editors (Figure 1) and remained within the membership department of the ESC, co-ordinated by the ESC vice president for National Societies. In April 2009, the name ‘Editors' Network’ was selected as more appropriate, and this change was approved by the ESC Board.1,2

Figure 1

Nucleus members of the ESC Editors’ Network: (A) Fernando Alfonso, MD, PhD, FESC (Chairman) (Past Editor-in-Chief, Revista Española de Cardiología); (B) Giuseppe Ambrosio, MD, PhD, FESC (Past Editor-in-Chief, Giornale Italiano di Cardiología); (C) Hugo Ector, MD, PhD, FESC (Editor-in-Chief, Acta Cardiologica); (D) Piotr Kulakowski, MD, PhD, FESC (Editor-in-Chief, Kardiologia Polska); (E) Fausto J. Pinto, MD, PhD, FESC (Editor-in-Chief, Revista Portuguesa de Cardiología); (F) Adam Timmis, MD, PhD, FESC (Editor-in-Chief, Heart); (G) Panos Vardas, MD, PhD, FESC (Editor-in-Chief, Hellenic Journal of Cardiology); on behalf of the Editors' Network ESC Task Force.

Editors of NSCJs have similar objectives and share common problems. Basically, they seek to increase the scientific quality, diffusion, and recognition of their respective journals. Furthermore, they are faced with related challenges in a globalized academic world. Therefore, collaboration appeared to be crucial. The initial steps of this group focused on obtaining detailed editorial and organizational data from all the national journals. A comprehensive structured questionnaire was developed and distributed. The result of this survey is now available from the ESC web site, and this information is updated annually. Currently, editorial data on 44 NSCJs are available. This includes web address and contact information, language, print run, electronic edition, ‘peer review' process, adherence to the International Committee of Medical Journals Editors (ICMJE) requirements, indexation, presence in PubMed, and impact factor. Another important initial objective was to increase the visibility of the NSCJs. With this aim, the ESC web site was modified to further expose these journals to the international scientific community. As a result, the site dedicated to the NSCJs may now be reached not only from the pages of the National Societies, but also from the scientific pages of the ESC. The idea was to adequately recognize the important scientific role of these journals. Likewise, bidirectional links between the ESC and the NSCJs—and among NSCJs—were implemented to establish efficient networking tools.1,2 Collaboration with the editors of the ESC official journals was also ensured.

Developing a ‘Mission Statement’ document1,2 was considered another initial key step to govern the collaboration among NSCJ editors (Table 1). The objective was to identify the principles upon which all NSCJ editors would agree, in order to formalize the ESC NSCJ Task Force. The final consensus document obtained major diffusion and editorial impact. The manuscript was initially endorsed and published by 39 NSCJs and translated into 14 different languages. In a second wave, the Affiliated Cardiac Societies of the ESC were also invited to participate in this joint editorial initiative, and at least 10 of these journals published the document. This effort can be considered as one of the most important and successful joint editorial initiatives ever organized under the umbrella of the ESC.2 General editorial considerations were extensively reviewed and discussed. It was emphasized that both technical and ethical issues must be addressed in order to gain editorial excellence. The ‘peer review’ process was considered as an essential part of the scientific process and the Task Force strongly suggested the adherence to the ICMJE recommendations. The document specifically stated that ethical considerations directly affect the credibility of the scientific content. Transparency, trust, and honesty in the complex process involved in the performance and publication of research must be ensured. Furthermore, collaboration among NSCJs is considered crucial in order to facilitate efficient dissemination of scientific information across Europe. NSCJs are published in different languages, and their scope and contents differ widely. Therefore, the recommendations were intentionally broad, allowing sufficient margin to guarantee the editorial freedom required to address the specific interests of each individual NSCJ.

View this table:
Table 1

Mission statement

1. To increase collaboration among NSCJ editors
2. To promote editorial excellence
3. To improve diffusion of scientific knowledge (with special care to ensure recognition and diffusion of European cardiovascular research and ESC clinical practice guidelines)
4. To share editorial information, experiences, initiatives, and technical issues
5. To provide an operative framework and data set that will facilitate future joint ventures and publishing initiatives
6. Public relations (common voice in NSCJ issues)
7. To foster collaboration between National Societies and the ESC. To stimulate collaboration between NSCJs and ESC official journals

The Network has provided a unique and dynamic platform where multiple joint editorial initiatives flourish. Collaboration among NSCJ editors has emerged as an essential tool to further disseminate and promote the clinical application of ESC Clinical Practice Guidelines. Work in this area favours an early translation of these Guidelines into national local languages facilitating their implementation into clinical practice. The expedited publication of these Guidelines in NSCJs follows the general rules for secondary publications, once primary publication in the European Heart Journal is granted. Likewise, many NSCJ editors are interested in boosting the dissemination of the Hot Line and Clinical Trial Update presentations of the ESC Congress. As a result of close collaboration with the Scientific Programmes and Publishing departments of the ESC, a strategy was devised in 2009 to facilitate an early translation and publication of these major trials in NSCJs. In addition, increased general awareness of the various editorial issues was stimulated via a new educational session called ‘Meet the Editors’, introduced at the ESC Congress 2009 and repeated in 2010.

Promoting diffusion of high-quality ‘educative content’ has been identified as a major responsibility of NSCJs. Accordingly, a structured, detailed (43 items) questionnaire on this issue was proposed to all journals. The results of the survey, which were circulated for suggestions and feed-back within the Editors' Network, constituted the basis for a new consensus document entitled: ‘Role of Journals in Education’. This paper has so far been published—as a joint publication—by 18 journals from ESC national cardiac societies and affiliated cardiac societies. This Education paper emphasizes the role of journals in the continued medical education and reports on the characteristics of the principal editorial products offered by the NSCJs in this area.3

The most recent initiative of the Editors' Network followed a new ICMJE proposal. In October 2009, the ICMJE presented an electronic ‘uniform’ format for conflict of interest (COI) disclosure.4,5 Although disclosure of potential COIs was already requested by most major journals, no uniform vehicle exists for reporting this information. This causes confusion and an author may have to report different information to different journals. The ICMJE COI reporting form is available at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf where it can be downloaded, completed, and sent to the web page of the journal. The form can be saved and used again—adding updated information as required—for each new manuscript. Each author submits a separate form and is responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the information stated. The idea is to facilitate and standardize the disclosure of COIs and to make the process easier for authors and less confusing to readers. Furthermore, this will eliminate the need for preparing disclosure information for each new submission to different journals and, more importantly, the apparent inconsistencies detected in the report of COIs that are largely the result of different journal policies. The initially proposed uniform disclosure form had five parts:

  1. identification,

  2. support of the work under consideration,

  3. financial relationships outside the submitted material,

  4. COI of family members, and

  5. non-financial associations.4

In the 2010 updated version, items (iv) and (v) were modified so that the information was requested in a least intrusive manner.5 To determine the status of COI disclosure among ESC NSCJs, a web-based, comprehensive, structured questionnaire (45 items) was specifically devised to address this issue. Feedback about the interest generated by the ICMJE initiative was also obtained. The survey was sent to all editors-in-chief of corresponding journals, and the preliminary results (from 34 Journals) were presented in Stockholm at the ESC Congress 2010. The initiative was launched in order to increase awareness among NSCJ editors, of the importance of COI disclosure as a way to preserve credibility in the scientific process.

This work provides a solid foundation on which to build in the future. The Editors’ Network will continue striving to stimulate collaboration among editors of the cardiovascular journals of European and overseas national societies, in order to enhance editorial standards, the scientific quality of contents, and to foster dissemination of scientific knowledge.

Fernando Alfonso, San Carlos University Hospital, Madrid, Spain

References

Announcement

The ‘Best of the European Heart Journal’ in Hungary

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A Joint Symposium of the European Heart Journal and the Hungarian Society of Cardiology

The Hungarian Society of Cardiology is holding its annual National Cardiology Congress on 11–14 May 2011 in Balatonfüred, on Lake Balaton Hungary. This year features a Joint Symposium with the European Heart Journal and the Hungarian Society of Cardiology entitled ‘Best of the European Heart Journal’. The intention is to make Hungarian cardiologists more aware of and interested in the European Heart Journal, by reviewing four highly cited articles of the Journal selected from, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), myocardial infarction, heart failure and intervention. The Session will be held on 12 May from 9.15–10.45 a.m. chaired by Frank Ruschitzka, Deputy Editor of the European Heart Journal and István Édes, Editor-in-Chief of Cardiologia Hungarica, the official journal of the Hungarian Society of Cardiology. All interested colleagues from Hungary and abroad are welcome to join us for the event.

For more information please contact:

Ms Tünde Czétényi, International Relations Manager, Hungarian Society of Cardiology (tunde.czetenyi{at}mkardio.hu)

Prof. Bela Merkely MD, DCs, FESC, President, Hungarian Society of Cardiology

Zoltan Csanadi MD, PhD, FESC, President, Scientific Committee of the Hungarian Society of Cardiology

People's corner: new position

Frank A. Flachskampf—promotion to Professor

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Frank A. Flachskampf, MD, PhD, FESC, moved in 2010 from the University of Erlangen, Germany, to Uppsala University, Sweden, as a newly appointed professor of cardiology and cardiac imaging. In parallel, he is a consultant (‘överläkare’) in cardiology at the university clinic ‘Akademiska sjukhuset’. Uppsala has the oldest university and university hospital in Scandinavia. The cardiology research group in Uppsala, led by Lars Wallentin and now Bertil Lindahl, is world-renowned for clinical research in ischaemic heart disease and, in particular, has built up exemplary clinical registries such as SWEDEHEART. Flachskampf is now trying to harness these local strengths for projects related to cardiac imaging.

Flachskampf, a German born in 1957 in Lisbon, Portugal, trained at the University of Aachen, under professors Effert and Hanrath, wrote his PhD thesis on three-dimensional echocardiography in 1996 and became an internist and cardiologist. In 1988–89, with a Fellowship from the German Research Foundation, he pursued topics in the application of echocardiography related to valvular heart disease at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, USA, in Arthur E. Weyman's echocardiography laboratory. Returning to Aachen, he became consultant and supervisor of the echo laboratory and then moved to an Imaging and Invasive Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic in 1997–98, where he worked in James D. Thomas’ and Eric Topol's groups. From there, he returned to Germany as a consultant cardiologist to the university clinic of Erlangen (chief: Werner G. Daniel), where he continued working scientifically, mainly in cardiac imaging with topics ranging from stress echo to deformation imaging, but also in several other fields, such as ultrasound thrombolysis, cardiac intensive care, and even acupuncture. After a short stint as chief of cardiology at a private hospital in Hamburg (as he says, a decidedly low point in his career), he continued in Erlangen until 2010, when the opportunity arose to apply for a cardiology professorship in Uppsala, Sweden.

In the European Society of Cardiology, he has been a long-time Board Member and is currently Treasurer of the European Association of Echocardiography; he also serves as an editorial board member of the European Journal of Echocardiography and in the Education Committee of the ESC. He remains fond of his overseas contacts as a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and member of the American Society of Echocardiography and the editorial board of the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography.

Flachskampf is married and has three teenage children. He is a voracious reader in several languages and sees his own personal history as an example of fading borders and an expanding professional landscape.

A. Tofield

CardioPulse contact: Andros Tofield, MD, FRCS, FACEP, Managing Editor CardioPulse, EHJ. Email: docandros{at}bluewin.ch