New Officers and Councillors elected at the EACTS General Assembly 2021

The election of new Officers and Councillors took place at the EACTS General Assembly.

EACTS Council is the decision making body of EACTS. The Council is responsible for ensuring EACTS complies with its governing document, relevant legislation and best practice guidelines. Members of the EACTS Council have an active role in providing strategic direction to EACTS and setting overall policy and targets. Councillors serve a set term (normally of up to three years).

We would like to thank the following outgoing Officers and Councillors for their hard work and valued contribution to our organisation.

    • Ruggero De Paulis
    • Lorenzo Galletti
    • Peter Licht
    • Richard Prager
    • Eric Roessner

 

At the Presidential Dinner, Mark Hazekamp passed on the Presidential chain to EACTS’ new President, Friedhelm Beyersdorf.

The following positions were announced:

Vice President – Patrick Perier

Secretary General Elect – Patrick Myers

Thoracic Disease Domain Chair – Richard Milton

Congenital Disease Domain Chair – Prof Juergen Horer

Councillor at large – Prod H Jan Ankersmit

International Councillor at large – Joe Bavaria

Honorary Treasurer – Mark Whiteling

Friday’s highlights at the 35th EACTS Annual Meeting

This year Mark Hazekamp spoke about about Conjectures and Refutations in Cardiothoracic Surgery in the Presidential Address. He concluded with a powerful message: always be critical and learn from your mistakes – everybody makes them. The key is to never sit back and think you did a good job. As Karl Popper said “science is a history of corrected mistakes”.

Watch the highlights from day two of the 35th EACTS Annual Meeting in Barcelona.

Thursday’s gripping scientific programme at the 35th EACTS Annual Meeting

Key moments from Thursday’s gripping scientific programme included:
  • A presentation from the Heart Team – including invaluable discussion on the importance of focusing on the patient, rather than the physicians.
  • The ‘Timing for Aortic Valve Repair in Aortic Regurgitation’ focus session – which explored how to interpret the guidelines to best meet the patient’s needs.
  • The ever-popular Training Village sessions began with a focus on Endoscopic Mitral Valve Repair using high fidelity mitral valve simulators – a great opportunity for novice surgeons to get hands-on training

 

Events in Barcelona get off to a roaring start with Techno College

Cardiothoracic surgeons from across the world were welcomed to Barcelona yesterday with Techno College – an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the latest pioneering technologies and techniques in the field of cardiovascular surgery.

The day was spent exploring new innovations and techniques in valve and minimally invasive surgery and innovations in transcatheter and robotic surgery.

There is still time to get involved in the Annual Meeting – click the link to find out how you can participate virtually over the coming days.

Techno College Innovation Award

Finalists of the Lion’s Den Techno College Innovation Award also presented their innovative ideas, techniques and developments in all areas related to thoracic and cardiovascular research to the audience and expert panel.

This year’s winner of the Techno College Innovation Award was:

Hazem Fallouh, UK

Pericardial device to monitor cardiac output and diagnose tamponade in patients undergoing cardiac surgery

On receiving the award, Hazem said:

“Winning the Techno College Innovation Award is surreal. I’ve watched this session in admiration over the years and I’ve always aspired to be an innovator. I was honoured to be a finalist so to go one step further and win the award means a lot.

“The award is a rubber stamp that demonstrates that this technology does resonate with peers and colleagues and is a major boost for developing this technology further.”

Looking ahead to the Aortic Forum

Konstantinos Tsagakis of the Vascular Disease Domain, Ruggero De Paulis of the Aortic Valve Task Force and Davide Pacini of the Aortic Dissection Task Force have been working behind the scenes to put together the inaugural Aortic Forum in Bologna in November. Here, Ruggero and Davide give their inside view of the event and what it has to offer.

What is the Aortic Forum and why is it important?

Ruggero. The Aortic Forum is a meeting exclusively focused on the surgical and endovascular treatment of aortic pathologies. The desire is to gather the world’s experts in aortic pathologies in a single place, with the aim of exchanging experiences and disseminating knowledge. The format includes a mix of formal presentations, live surgeries and live-in-a-box videos. Participants will have the opportunity to learn the latest techniques and discuss directly with the key opinion leaders.

What makes the Aortic Forum such a special event?

Ruggero. This is a new event within the EACTS calendar of Academy courses. It is also the first time an EACTS meeting will exclusively focus on aortic pathologies and take place in Europe. It is special because each session is shared with experts from the most renowned cardiac and thoracic associations in the US, Asia and Latin America.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s Aortic Forum?

Davide. This first ever Aortic Forum represents the cornerstone for further meetings to follow. We are hoping for a wide attendance with positive feedback from participants. It is the first time that EACTS has organised a large comprehensive meeting on all aspects of aortic surgery, targeting a wide audience that includes cardiac and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists and anaesthetists.

Ruggero. The whole task force behind this year’s Aortic Forum is looking forward to a global experience made up of theoretical principles, practical surgical solutions, problem solving attitudes and heated discussions on major controversies in the field.

How important are meetings such as this to the cardiothoracic community?

Davide. They are important because they focus on one specific topic of cardiac surgery. During a two-day meeting the Aortic Forum will concentrate four half-day sessions covering all aspects of aortic surgery, from anatomy to live surgery. It is a fantastic opportunity for full immersion into aortic surgery and confronting the most controversial aspects of surgical and endovascular therapeutic solutions.

Ruggero. The Aortic Forum is important to the cardiac surgical community because it highlights the most important areas where we should be focusing our future effort, in terms of scientific research and clinical application.

Why should surgeons attend? What will they come away with?

Davide. Live surgery. EACTS. Bologna. These three words sum up the fabulous opportunity of this meeting. The sharing of knowledge not only using conventional presentations but also live surgery, gives participants real-time experience of many challenging complex aortic procedures. Participants will actively take part in the meeting with abstract presentations. And they will acquire the necessary information for a competent decision-making process when facing a variety of aortic pathologies. Lastly, Bologna is a fascinating city with a strong background in aortic surgery. It also just received the prestigious award from UNESCO to include the Portici in the world heritage list.

Ruggero. All cardiovascular surgeons and all people with an interest in aortic pathologies should attend to get familiar with the results of the latest trials, with the industrial innovations and with the most efficient surgical approaches. Such experience will certainly benefit surgeons who are in the process of beginning their practice in major aortic surgery but also expose experts to a variety of alternatives to their standard approach, helping them in any future decision-making process.

What else should people know about the event?

Ruggero. After the difficult times we have been through, the new Aortic Forum represents an opportunity to get acquainted with colleagues from all over the world and discuss common challenges. In that spirit we wanted to involve world-renowned cardiothoracic associations from across the world and send a message of co-operation, friendship, and closeness in a common effort to educate new generations, share experience and better serve our patients.

Bursaries now available to LACES residents ahead of EACTS Annual Meeting

Over 40 bursaries are now available ahead of the 35th EACTS Annual Meeting next month in the name of the Francis Fontan Fund to residents from the Latin American Association of Cardiac and Endovascular Surgeons.  

Introduced to support the virtual attendance of LACES residents, the bursary will give successful applicants the chance to virtually attend the EACTS Annual Meeting free of charge – an invaluable source of education and learning. 

EACTS is proud to train and support those starting out in their career – particularly from developing countries – and will be delighted to welcome LACES residents to this landmark event which offers the opportunity to explore, discover and shape the future of cardiothoracic surgery. 

LACES residents wishing to apply should contact residents@latamlaces.org before October 3 for more information. 

To register directly for the Annual Meeting, please visit: eacts.org/annual-meeting

Fellowship deadlines loom

There’s no time to lose to apply for a 2022 Fellowship position.

Discover which Fellowships are available and read about Alina Gallo’s experience of the Aortic Valve Repair Fellowship below.

OPCAB/MICS CABG Fellowship 2022

Five new Fellowships, supported by Medtronic

This gives newly graduated cardiothoracic surgeons from around the world the opportunity to enhance their clinical understanding and to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge in the surgical management of patients with coronary artery disease, with special interest in off-pump and minimal invasive techniques.

Closing date for applications: 29 September

October: applications sent to committee for review

Notification to recipient: after committee meeting

Public award announcement: to be confirmed

For more, see the OPCAB page on the EACTS website.

Advanced Intensive Postoperative Care in Cardiovascular Surgery Fellowship 2022

Three new Fellowships

The recipients will gain experience in the postoperative management in adult cardiovascular surgery, as well as a wide exposure to minimally invasive and other advanced techniques in cardiovascular surgery.

Closing Date for applications: 29 September

October: applications sent to committee for review

Notification to recipient: after committee meeting

Public award announcement: to be confirmed

For more, see the AIPC page on the EACTS website.

MSTCVS Quality and Outcomes Fellowship 2022

One new Fellowship to visit Michigan, US

The successful candidate gets a unique, career-enhancing training opportunity in this six-month placement at one of the world’s leading centres of excellence.

Closing Date for applications: 29 September

October: applications sent to committee for review

Notification to recipient: after committee meeting

Public award announcement: to be confirmed

For more, see the MSTCVS page on the EACTS website.

Alina Gallo talks about her experience of the Aortic Valve Repair Fellowship, which she completed in 2019

At what stage was your career when you applied for the AVR Fellowship in 2019?

I was a consultant at the cardiac surgery department of the Maggiore della Carità Hospital in Novara. As an independent surgeon, I already had some experience on aortic root and ascending aortic surgery. I became a specialist in cardiac surgery in 2013, and from the beginning I focused my career on the practical aspect of surgery, with the aim of becoming an independent surgeon. After training, I worked at San Donato Milanese Hospital where I had the opportunity to work with Professor Lorenzo Menicanti. That taught me that a surgeon has to be able to perform surgery in any situation and not stay safe watching others doing it, waiting for plain and easy cases. As he advised, I ‘jumped and swam’. I moved to Mirano, Veneto, where I started to perform surgery as first operator.

What was it that prompted you to apply for the Fellowship?

I was reading the EACTS newsletter and became aware of the Francis Fontan Fund. I was taken by The Aortic Root and Valve Repair Fellowship because it is the topic that I love most. I thought I must not miss the chance to apply. I won and it was such an honour that I put all myself into this amazing experience.

Did taking up the Fellowship involve any upheaval?

Not really. I asked the hospital management for a study leave for the days required to attend the Fellowship. They said yes because it was also a prestigious opportunity for them and reflected well on the hospital itself.

Overall, what was your experience of your time spent on the Fellowship?

The Fellowship is perfect for a consultant cardiac surgeon, having the right balance between theory and practice. During the two-week internship I spent in Brussels and Homburg, I tried to watch and ‘steal’ skill and expertise as much as I could. I had the unique opportunity to observe how Professor Gebrine El Khoury and Professor Hans-Joachim Schäfers, two of the most important surgeons of our time, run a department and manage complex cardiac operations. The Fellowship completely met my expectations. I would recommend it to every young surgeon who wants to learn from the experts.

What would you say have been the key things you’ve learnt about your speciality and about yourself during the Fellowship?

Cardiac disease can be addressed in many different ways depending on the expertise of the surgeon, but the difference is made by the surgeon who can offer the best-suited solution to the patient’s specific problem. Travelling around and meeting surgeons from different countries and with different educational programmes opens your mind and enriches you. There will be always something you can learn.

How has it affected the trajectory of your career?

It has allowed me to meet and talk with world-famous cardiac surgeons, and has enhanced my self-confidence. It has also influenced my career choices, helping me to leave my comfort zone and move to a centre with a higher patient volume with aortic root, ascending aorta and aortic arch pathologies. I now work at Santi Antonio e Biagio e Cesare Arrigo Hospital in Alessandria. I have good expertise in aortic root surgery and now I am improving and learning complex surgical techniques, such as the ‘frozen elephant trunk’ technique, which was one of the topics of the ‘Introduction to Aortic Surgery’ course I attended as part of the Fellowship.

What would your advice be to anybody thinking of applying for a Fellowship?

When I applied, I was a little intimidated by writing a letter of interest and asking my chief for a letter of support. I thought the best thing was to describe what my surgical career had been like to date, what I wanted to achieve, my dreams and why I really wanted to be selected: to start a programme on aortic valve repair in my department and make a difference for patients. To those considering applying, I would say that if this is the programme you’ve always dreamed of, you will be successful in applying.

 

The 35th EACTS Annual Meeting turns Spain’s second city into the heart of the cardiothoracic world in October 

The 35th EACTS Annual Meeting will take place in Barcelona from 13th – 16th October at the Centre Convencions Internacional de Barcelona (CCIB) and online, reconnecting members and other health care professionals and offering a packed programme of education and discussion – ranging from plenary sessions on the latest guidelines and clinical trials to professional challenge, focus and abstract sessions.  

This year’s Annual Meeting will be one of the first international professional healthcare events, and certainly the first large-scale meeting in cardiovascular and thoracic medicine, to convene as the world gradually opens up after the Covid-19 pandemic.  

It promises to showcase all the latest technical innovations and scientific breakthroughs that have been developed and refined during the pandemic and that will doubtless spark debate, discussion, excitement and even some controversy among cardiothoracic surgeons. 

Travel restrictions are being lifted more slowly in some countries and regions than in others, so to help as many surgeons and healthcare professionals as possible from all over the world to attend, the Annual Meeting will run in a hybrid format. This means that delegates can take part in-person at the Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB) or via the new EACTS virtual platform.  

EACTS Secretary General, Rafael Sádaba said: 

“I think the best way to experience the Annual Meeting is by attending in person. You get to meet your cardiothoracic colleagues from all over the world and to make those vital professional and personal connections. I also think some of scientific sessions are easier to enjoy if you are physically in the room. There are so many different sessions across the full scientific programme to look forward to that if one particular talk, debate or demonstration doesn’t appeal to you, another one that does will be just around the corner.”  

Whether people are able join physically for the full event in Barcelona or from a screen in the hospital, office or at home, the hybrid format will allow delegates to: 

  • Take advantage of the exciting opportunities that the Annual Meeting offers,  
  • Explore new scientific insights, learning about the latest innovations in cardiothoracic surgery 
  • Take part in the many stimulating debates and discussions alongside global colleagues. 

Also new for this year is the Skills Corner, which combined with the EACTS Training Village, will offer an opportunity for delegates to benefit from the skills of key opinion leaders and our industry partners as well as participate in interactive hands-on training such as wetlab, drylab and simulator sessions, all set in a professional, personalised and appropriately socially distanced training environment. 

Find the most up-to-date information on the Annual Meeting and the full scientific programme here. To learn more about EACTS and its educational activities click here 

EACTS Academy: Upcoming courses

The EACTS Academy offers advanced training programmes in surgical skills, developed in collaboration with experienced surgeons.

The EACTS Skills Programme now offers four separate modules for instruction where delegates can obtain different competencies. Each programme addresses the full range of skill levels and allows surgeons to start training at their current level of expertise.

Courses are now classified as Level 1, 2, 3 or ‘Conferences/summits’, depending on the target audience. This ensures that delegates can select the right courses at the right time in their careers. The course levels are:

Level 1
for residents in training with the course content closely allied to the EBCTS syllabus

Level 2
for residents in the final years of training and for surgeons at the beginning of independent practice

Level 3
for surgeons established in independent practice

Conferences/summits

Upcoming in 2021:

4 to 6 November, Berlin

5th EACTS Mechanical Circulatory Support Summit (Conference/summit)

Content: interactive lectures, live-in-a-box cases, keynote presentations

Audience: cardiologists, heart failure cardiologists, emergency  and ICU specialists (ECLS), cardiac surgeons, perfusionists, heart-failure nurses and VAD coordinators, medical industry  (cardiac device including ECMO development and production), paediatric cardiologists and congenital heart disease surgeons

15 to 16 November, Bologna

The Aortic Forum (Conference/summit)

Content: four half-day sessions devoted to the major areas of aortic surgery – each session features a live surgical case, invited presentations, four live-in-a-box videos and two abstract presentations related to each subject

Audience: all cardiac and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists and anaesthetists

2 to 3 December, Maastricht

Endoscopic Port-Access Mitral Valve Repair Drylab Training (Level 3)

Content: true model of endoscopic port-access set-up, allowing training in the basic technique to full complex repairs.

Audience: surgeons established in independent practice

9 to 10 December, virtual meeting

Fundamentals in Cardiac Surgery: Mitral and Tricuspid Valve (Level 1)

Content: the online version of the updated ‘Fundamentals in Cardiac Surgery’ series, being held as a virtual meeting and focusing particularly on the mitral and tricuspid valves.

Audience: residents and fellows in cardiac surgical training programmes

 

Welcome to the Lions’ Den

At the 35th EACTS Annual Meeting in Barcelona, participants will be ‘thrown into’ the Lions’ Den. It’s a highlight of the Annual Meeting where cardiothoracic surgeons get just two-minutes to present their innovative ideas and techniques to the audience and expert panel. The best presentation is awarded the Techno-Award. In 2019 Max Emmert, from Wyss Zurich at the University of Zurich and the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the German Heart Center Berlin, won the award for the LifeMatrix bioengineering platform. Here, he explains all about it.

Q: What is LifeMatrix?

LifeMatrix is a unique and proprietary bioengineering technology platform to grow tissue in the lab. The idea is to develop next-generation implants that can remodel and regenerate with the patient. We have done a lot of research to test a way forward that provides a clinical grade and off-the-shelf biomimetic implant that can be implemented as a product.

What we have now developed is a biomimetic implant, based on an extracellular matrix that is made from human cells and a specific polymer combination. The cells are then removed (decellularized), leaving behind the LifeMatrix. When implanted, it gradually transforms into living tissue. We have validated this technology in GLP translational animal studies in the context of vascular grafts and heart valves. Several other indications are in the pipeline.

Q: Why did you decide it might be a good candidate for the Lion’s Den?

I’m a cardiac surgeon and I have been with EACTS since the beginning of my career. I have always been impressed by the association, by the achievements that are made in patient care, in research and in new developments. We felt at that point that we had something pretty much validated that was an interesting thing to share with our colleagues at EACTS and present in the competition.

We were proud to be shortlisted. Then when we won the award, it was a big achievement for us as a team and a great pleasure and honor to get this positive feedback from the potential users of such a technology. All the surgeons in the room were very supportive. After that, we had multiple approaches from other people who wanted to learn more about the technology, and that was a really cool experience.

Q: How did you prepare for the pitch?

I had just two minutes to pitch. I had to bring the principal idea and problem, the way we would approach it and our solution. I had to attract the audience, tell them why I thought it would work and show them some evidence and our next challenges ahead.

This was followed by an in-depth discussion with the panel, who were physicians and people from industry who had experience in bringing products forward. It was a very colourful and diverse discussion with much good advice for our project.

Q: What is your advice for candidates pitching this year?

Be fast to bring your message across, be clear, and have good visuals to support your message. I think it’s also about how you present, so that people can really feel that you are behind your idea, that you know what you’re talking about, and you are aware of the natural challenges for your concept. Select your words carefully, as you’ve only got two minutes sharp. You need to be confident to expose yourself to the situation when the entire room is looking at you.

Also try to enjoy it, because it is a great opportunity to present yourself and to validate your work, and whether people vote for you or not, it is a way to get them interested. To the young surgeons who have great ideas I would say just walk up there and give your best.