Performed STSMs

Dr. Saverio Fabbri at INSERM (01-02/2021)

"The VascAgeNet STSM offered me the opportunity to acquire specific knowledge in the vascular field and to start a new collaboration between different investigators around the EU."

Dr. Maria Raffaella Martina at INSERM (07-08/2021)

"Thanks to the VascAgeNet STSM, I had the opportunity to participate in the activities of the vascular lab at INSERM and to acquire knowledge about new techniques."

Dr Peter Charlton at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania (04/2022)

"The STSM helped me a lot to deepen the collaboration established through VascAgeNet."

Stavria-Artemis Elia at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece (06-07/2021)

"As our research interests (personally, and as a CVEG lab) with Dr Triantafyllou are quite similar, there is room for more collaborations in the future. I’m very excited to have carved the pathway for this with the STSM."

Alicia Del Saz Lara at National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Paris (05-07/2021)

“Thanks to Dr. Cavero-Redondo I started researching in the field of vascular health. The VascAgeNet STSM offered me the opportunity to acquire new knowledge on this topic, as well as to meet researchers such as Rosa Maria Bruno, who has been the link for future collaborations of both research groups. I am very excited and eager to continue working in this world of vascular health”

Elif Tunc Aydın at National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Paris (06-07/2022)

“I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the scientists whose publications and studies I follow, and this increased my faith in science and scientific research. I am very lucky to have such an opportunity in terms of both my career and personal development, and I thank everyone very much.”

Detailed reports of performed STSMs:

The first STSM financed within the COST Action VascAgeNet has just been completed. Dr. Saverio Fabbri spent two months at the INSERM Paris Cardiovascular Research Center (PARCC-INSERM U970, Paris, France) working under the supervision of Prof. Pierre Boutouyire and Dr. Rosa Maria Bruno. Saverio participated in the COVID-19 Effects on arterial stiffness and vascular aging (CARTESIAN) study, an international initiative launched by ARTERY Society and supported by VascAgeNet, involving >50 centers in 30 countries, working together with the aim to investigate long-term consequences of COVID-19 on vascular function and structure. During the time spent at PARCC, Saverio had the opportunity to learn how to measure vascular aging by different techniques in particular carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity, central blood pressure and hemodynamics, carotid intima-media thickness and stiffness, brachial artery endothelial dysfunction by flow-mediated dilation, radial and digital artery geometry and stiffness by ultra-high frequency ultrasound, in a worldwide reference center for the non invasive arterial investigations of arteries. Part of the training consisted also in learning how to collect, analyse and interpret vascular data using the appropriate technological tools, with weekly meetings aimed at sharing and exchanging with the whole multidisciplinary team. “The VascAgeNet STSM offered me the opportunity to acquire specific knowledge in the vascular field and to start new collaboration between different investigators around the EU. », Saverio said. “Despite limitations to individual mobility related to COVID-19 pandemic, the STSM remain an important tool to promote collaboration between participants to the VascAgeNet COST Action. There are still many opportunities to receive funding” said Giacomo Pucci, STSM Coordinator. Further information is available at the website https://vascagenet.eu/short-term-scientific-missions
Stavria-Artemis Elia, from the Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Genetics Research lab (CVEG) of the Cyprus University of Technology, performed a Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM) of one month at the Laboratory of Primary Health Care, General Medicine and Health Services Research of the School of Medicine of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, under the supervision of Dr. Areti Triantafyllou. She collected and analyzed the results of a qualitative survey, proposed by the Working Group 5 of the VascAgeNet COST Action to more than 120 participants, about knowledge and perceptions of vascular aging. She also performed a critical review of the main new findings and is now preparing a manuscript for a future scientific publication. Stavria-Artemis Elia gained experience on how to allocate answers to thematic groups, especially those that are vague or general, on how to process thematic groups as binary variables, and how to perform summary statistics and analysis of chi-square tables to investigate how the responses were related to participant’s characteristics. “As our research interests (personally, and as a CVEG lab) with Dr Triantafyllou are quite similar”, said Stavria, “there is room for more collaborations in the future. I’m very excited to have carved the pathway for this with the STSM”. Further information is available at the website https://vascagenet.eu/short-term-scientific-missions

Thanks to the Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) of the VascAgeNet COST Action I had the opportunity to participate in the activities of the vascular lab at INSERM and to acquire knowledge about new techniques for the assessment of vascular ageing on small- and medium-sized arteries, and in particular Ultra-High Frequency Ultrasound (UHF-US), an advanced technique that make it possible for the first time to non-invasively and accurately assess hand vasculature thanks to frequencies up to 70 MHz, and 3-D ultrasound (tUS).

The application of these techniques is valuable for the evaluation of hand vascular involvement in Systemic Sclerosis (SSc), a disorder characterized by alterations of the microvasculature, including digital ulcers and Raynaud’s phenomenon, in a protocol currently ongoing at INSERM.

During this STSM, images of the digital arteries of 15 SSc patients were processed thanks to a validated high-precision contour tracking algorithm for the estimation of structural and elasticity parameters of digital arteries (diameter, distension and border thickness) by ultrasound image processing.

The study and monitoring of structural parameters of the digital arteries could be relevant in the exploration of reliable imaging biomarkers for the diagnosis and pathogenesis of SSc as well as for the control of the therapies administered to patients and the related effects on the progression of the disease.

Furthermore, the results achieved thanks to this STSM will allow to evaluate the possible connection between peripheral and systemic vascular diseases.

Further information is available at the website https://vascagenet.eu/short-term-scientific-missions

 

Alicia Del Saz Lara performed a three-months STSM at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Paris, under the supervision of Dr. Rosa Maria Bruno. The main object of the STSM was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to analyze the association between pulse wave velocity and incident hypertension. Additionally, she participated in activities that took place at INSERM during her stay in Paris.

The work was developed as a result of the combination of the expertise of both groups, on the one hand the clinical knowledge of arterial stiffness and hypertension by the INSERM group of Paris, France, and on the other hand the expertise in performing of systematic reviews and meta-analysis of the CESS group of Cuenca, Spain.

After a careful electronic search carried out in the principal electronic databases, two independent reviewers examined inclusion and exclusion criteria of each selected longitudinal study. The main information of included studies were extracted, and the meta-analysis was performed according to advanced and up-to-date statistical technologies.

Results demonstrated that increased pulse wave velocity, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure are all predictors of incident hypertension in normotensive adult subjects, with similar independent predictive value. This analysis is projected to be the first systematic review and meta-analysis of arterial stiffness and baseline blood pressure in the normotensive range as predictors of incident hypertension. A paper is currently under writing.

“Thanks to Dr. Cavero-Redondo I started researching in the field of vascular health. The VascAgeNet STSM offered me the opportunity to acquire new knowledge on this topic, as well as to meet researchers such as Rosa Maria Bruno, who has been the link for future collaborations of both research groups. I am very excited and eager to continue working in this world of vascular health”, said Alicia.

Her stay in Paris generated future collaborations to establish Early Vascular Ageing (EVA) as a construct measurable by clinicians. A series of meetings are pending between the INSERM and CESS groups to establish further research projects.

Dr Peter Charlton spent 5 days at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), hosted by Prof Vaidotas Marozas, Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering. Vaidotas and Peter are members of VascAgeNet’s Working Group 3. They’ve previously collaborated on several projects including a VascAgeNet review of techniques to assess vascular age from the photoplethysmogram (the PPG – the pulse wave signal measured by smartwatches and activity trackers). During this STSM, Vaidotas and Peter worked with colleagues at KTU towards harmonising photoplethysmography-based techniques for the assessment of vascular ageing.

First, Peter and colleagues worked on developing PPG signal processing techniques for the assessment of vascular ageing. Specific tasks included: designing approaches to estimate blood pressure from the PPG pulse wave signal; developing PPG signal quality assessment tools which could help ensure that vascular ageing assessments performed in daily life are reliable; and investigating how well PPG signal processing algorithms perform with different types of sensors. This involved sharing knowledge, data, and signal processing algorithms.

Second, Peter and colleagues discussed the designs of two ongoing clinical studies at KTU and at the University of Cambridge. They identified ways to harmonise the methods used in the two studies so that they provide similar datasets. It is hoped that this will enable the two groups to test the generalisability of findings across the two datasets.

Third, Peter and colleagues established a pipeline for simulating PPG signals containing artifact and arrhythmias. This involved using KTU’s tools for simulating PPG signals alongside data collected at the University of Cambridge. It is hoped that this will lead to the creation of a dataset of simulated PPG signals representative of those that would be measured from older adults in the community.

Peter received very warm hospitality from Vaidotas and his colleagues at KTU, sharing meals and sightseeing together. This helped Peter get to know his new colleagues well during a short space of time, establishing relationships which will enable them to continue to work together remotely.

I’m Elif, I’m currently running a PhD in Tissue Science Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at the Izmir Katip Celebi University Histology and Embriology Department, Turkey. My STSM was hosted by the INSERM Paris Cardiovascular Research Center PARCC, Paris, France, under the supervision of Prof. Rosa Maria Bruno during the period included between the 20 June and the 29 July 2022. The purpose of my application to STSM was to learn how to measure vascular parameters with different devices that I plan to use in current and future projects. I had the opportunity to learn all the measurement techniques I had planned and even more. I had the opportunity to work with a very good team and learn a lot from them. I attended very useful laboratory meetings and gained clinical experience. I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the scientists whose publications and studies I follow, and this increased my faith in science and scientific research. I am very lucky to have such an opportunity in terms of both my career and personal development, and I thank everyone very much.
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