May Vascular Research Initiatives Conference program takes shape

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Depiction of fibroblast cells

With an emphasis on cells—structural and immune—the program for the May 10 Vascular Research Initiatives Conference (VRIC) in Boston next month is taking shape. 

VRIC will be held at the Boston Marriott Copley Place in Boston, in conjunction with the American Heart Association’s “Vascular Discovery 2023: From Genes to Medicine.” The AHA sessions will be held May 10–13 at the venue. 

The conference emphasizes discussions of research of basic and translational vascular science, in a thoughtful atmosphere intended to motivate participants to discover solutions to important problems affecting vascular patients. VRIC brings together vascular surgeon-scientists, vascular biologists and other cardiovascular physicians researching vascular disease, and trainees working in the cardiovascular disease space. The 2023 theme is “Structural and Immune Cells in Vascular Disease.” 

Four abstract sessions will focus on venous disease and novel devices; vascular regeneration, stem cells and wound-healing; atherosclerosis and the role of the immune system; and aortopathies. 

Esther Lutgens, MD, will deliver the Alexander W. Clowes Distinguished Lecture, established in 2017 to honor the late SVS member and surgeon-scientist who had a big hand in shaping the conference over the years. Her topic is “Co stimulatory immune checkpoints in atherosclerosis: Novel immunotherapeutic targets to combat atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.” 

Lutgens is a renowned molecular biologist and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The day’s agenda also includes the Translational Panel. Chiara Giannarelli, MD, will focus on deep phenotyping of human atherosclerosis, and Bhama Ramkhelawon, PhD, will discuss structural triggers of macrophages in aortic aneurysms. 

“This is going to be an outstanding conference with a focus on vascular discovery. We had a near record number of abstracts submitted this year, many of which were by trainees performing exceptional research that will one day advance our understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease,” said Katherine Gallagher, MD, chair of the SVS Basic and Translational Research Committee, which plans VRIC. 

“I don’t think anyone will leave VRIC 2023 anything but inspired, and hopefully the knowledge gained here will lead investigators to other pathways of inquiry.” 

Areck Ucuzian, MD, will present his research into “The benefits of moderate aerobic exercise on maintaining vessel structure in mouse models of aortopathy,” as part of his SVS Foundation Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award. 

Four vascular trainees were selected as recipients of the SVS Foundation VRIC Trainee Award; their abstracts were scored among the highest of those submitted. They will present their work at the conference: 

  • Sharika Bamezai, BA, a Sarnoff Research Fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine and a medical student at University of Michigan Medical School, “Safety and efficacy of pro-efferocytic nanoparticles to treat atherosclerosis in a porcine model.” Her mentor is Nick Leeper, MD 
  • Tyler Bauer, MD, a general surgery resident at University of Michigan Medical School, “Inflammatory macrophages dictate fibroblast function via epigenetic reprogramming in diabetic wounds.” Mentor: Katherine Gallagher, MD 
  • Rodrigo Meade, BS, a research fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, “Fatty acid synthase targeting reduces aortic atherosclerosis and inflammation.” Mentor: Mohamed Zayed, MD 
  • Humraaz Samra, MBBCh, an integrated vascular surgery resident at Indiana University School of Medicine, “Allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells significantly increase type 1 regulatory T cells, decrease effector Th17 cells and decrease aneurysm volume in a dose-dependent fashion in patients with small abdominal aortic aneurysms—Results of the phase I Aortic aneurysm repression with mesenchymal stem cells (ARREST) trial.” Mentor: Michael P. Murphy, MD 

A poster competition and cocktail reception also are included. For more information on the conference and to register, visit vascular.org/VRIC23. 

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