By Wendy Sarubbi | September 24, 2017 5:05 am

Young and emerging cardiovascular scientists from across the world discovered new ways to advance their research at the 5th annual meeting of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences (IACS) held in Lake Nona this month.

The two-day conference was hosted by the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. Organizers dedicated this year’s session to young scientists focused on heart disease – undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and medical students. Also attending were senior researchers and faculty from Canada, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Turkey, India, Netherlands who exchanged scientific ideas, generated collaborations, and discovered new ways to advance scientific research in the field of cardiovascular and metabolic sciences. About 100 scientists attended the event on September 1 and 2.

“Cardiovascular diseases kill a high number of persons every year,” said Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy, Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Science and professor at the College of Medicine. “This conference was geared at highlighting the work of young scientists while allowing them to interact with senior researchers on a global level, to learn from them and to provide new goals and directions for studying these diseases.”

A focus of the conference was new technology and innovative thinking in treating heart disease. “We’ve seen presentations on new models for imaging cardiovascular disease, new molecules that may be involved in calcification (hardening of the arteries) and the development of arrhythmia and other heart problems,” Dr. Parthasarathy said.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the main areas of focus at the Burnett School. The Metabolic and Cardiovascular Research Division focuses on understanding the development and mechanisms of metabolic and heart diseases. Key areas of research include heart attacks, atherosclerosis, lipid metabolism and lipoproteins, diabetes, and the role of inflammation in atherosclerosis.

Fifteen Burnett School scientists presented their research and about 20 UCF M.D. and biomedical sciences students presented posters. “In addition, we had more than 60 presenters from over five different countries presenting research on a range of issues in cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Dinender Singla, head of Burnett’s cardiovascular division. “That shows the breadth and scope of this conference.”

Students had the opportunity to connect with notable researchers such as Dr. Arnold Schwartz, professor and distinguished scholar of cardiovascular pharmacology at the University of Cincinnati, whose research has discovered new drug therapies for cardiovascular diseases.

“The conference was a really great opportunity collaborate with great minds and learn about the latest research in cardiovascular disease,” said second-year UCF medical student Naina Sharma. She presented her research on the SR-B1 protein which helps clear lipids from the blood stream thus suppressing atherosclerosis. “I got a chance to learn about other projects that are going on in other labs and information that can help me with my own further research.”

Krista Filomeno, master’s student at the University of Manitoba, presented her research on healing the heart after a heart attack.

“The conference has been great,” she said. “I got the chance to interact with and share my research with several scientists from Florida and other parts of the world, and I got to see some different research and learn new scientific methods.”

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