8th PVRI Annual General Meeting and 7th Scientific Workshops and Debates

PVRI Member Authors: Nikki Krol, Ewa Kolosionek

For the 8th PVRI Annual General Meeting and 7th Scientific Workshops and Debates, the Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute joined with the ECCPS Symposium Molecular Mechanisms and Treatment of Lung Disease. Congratulations are due to the ECCPS and their administrative staff for organising such a beautiful detailed meeting in the maze located under the Dolce, Bad Nauheim. Housing 25 conference rooms, the Dolce is an impressive business hotel with a solid reputation, and PVRI members, ECCPS members, and other attendees were well-served throughout the week of meetings and socialising. 


Tuesday January 28th

The meeting started in earnest on Tuesday January 28th, with the PVRI Pre-Symposium on Lung Vascular Compliance and Recruitment, chaired by David Badesch and Anna Hemnes. These included ‘Right heart after load at rest and exercise*’, by Robert Naeije, Brussels; ‘PAstiffness and right ventricular-PA coupling’, by Rebecca Vanderpool, Pittsburgh; and ‘Detection and evaluation of the potential for lung microvascular recruitment in PAH’, by David Langleben, Montreal. Those who followed the meeting from home and afar were treated to a steady stream of images, updates, and streams of consciousness from the PVRI Twitter and Facebook social media, and each new speaker was immortalized on the web with their name and topic under the hashtag #PVRI14. Admittedly, Monday also saw some meetings, which were evidenced on the web with images from the PVRI Young Council meeting during their preparations for the week’s lecture, interview and abstract recordings, as well as the Board of Directors meeting in the afternoon.

With 460 registered attendees, PVRI far surpassed last year’s 220 delegates, which was itself a 50% increase of the year before in Cape Town. As the number of delegates continues to rise, so too does the quality of the Conference. A speaker-based meeting, the PVRI Annual Conference is gaining a reputation for its open atmosphere, high quality science, and valuable discussion. Added to that are the efforts of the Young Council, who spent the week soliciting people for lectures and interviews for publication on the PVRI Educational website. The interviews are part of a new initiative, namely the History of Pulmonary Vascular Diseases, as told by the people who lived through and continue to be immersed in its changes, frustrations, and successes. All interested PVRI attendees were invited to sit down for a 20-30 minute interview with a member of the Young Council, to talk about their initial and current interest in PVDs, how the labs and methodologies have changed for them over the years, to identify the most essential support for their career, and their advice for young scientists entering the field today.


After the Lung Vascular Compliance session followed Anticoagulants and angioplasty in PH, which included the sessions ‘Pro and con of anticoagulants in PAH’, by Marius Hoeper from Hannover, ‘The role of novel anticoagulants in CTEPH’, by Irene Lang from Vienna, and a pro and con debate on ‘Angioplasty for CTEPH’, with Pro presented by Hiromi Matsubara from Okayama, and Con presented by Eckhard Mayer from Bad Nauheim. This was followed by the session Pulmonary Hypertension in Children, which featured the following sessions: ‘The lung vasculature in bronchopulmonary dysplasia’ by Dick Tibboel from Rotterdam; ‘PH classification in children post-Panama and Nice’ presented by Maurice Beghetti from Geneva; and ‘Current and future therapy of PH in children’ by Steven Abman from Aurora.

By the time of the Peter Raymond Memorial Lecture ‘Adaptation to high altitude living’, delivered very well by Cynthia Beall from Cleveland, the Young Council had recorded 7 interviews and 1 lecture, Pulmonary Circulation had completed a successful editorial lunch meeting, the new PVRI Women’s Health Taskforce was just finishing up their inaugural (face to face) meeting, and the new PVRI Exercise Taskforce was connecting to India and the US in a Skype meeting. This very active and productive first day had another highly important installment in the form of the Annual General Meeting, where the current PVRI Committee announced a number of significant changes in the PVRI Structure and their ways. In a nutshell, these included:

• Prof. Sheila Glennis Haworth from London, UK, was announced as the new PVRI President, taking over from Prof. Martin Wilkins.

• Prof. Ghazwan Butrous was named Treasurer of the PVRI, and presented slides on the PVRI finances for 2013.

• Miss Stephanie Barwick was revealed as the new PVRI Executive Director, as per the goals identified in the 2013 PVRI business plan. She will begin in April 2014, but was already in Giessen to meet the membership and detail her plans for the future success of the PVRI.

• Chairman of the Board Stuart Rich introduced the PVRI BOD to the membership.

• Dr. Aaron Waxman was named as the PVRI Director of Scientific Affairs, placing him in charge of the educational website and scientific agenda.

• Managing Editor for Pulmonary Circulation (PC) Miss Christina Holt presented the changes for PC in 2014, which include a new publisher, a new submission website, and anonline-only publishing policy with an option for print on demand. She also demonstrated PC’s success in the 57,000 article downloads since 2011, further strengthened by the very encouraging 375,000 page views generated during the same time.

• The newly formed Central Asia PVRI group (CA-PVRI) was introduced by Prof. Talant Sooronbaev from Kyrgyzstan, who also promoted a number of upcoming meetings in the region and encouraged interest from the membership.

• Dr. Djuro Kosanovic briefly represented the Young Council detailing the PVRI Chronicle and educational website projects, and invited PVRI Fellows and members (35 years and younger) to apply to join the growing group of active members.

The above was met with general approval, and with particular enthusiasm for the appointment of PVRI Executive Director Miss Barwick, who introduced herself with a very strong presentation. She called for more membership participation for promotion of the PVRI, reflected in twitter updates inviting PVRI-ers to answer such queries as ‘PVRI provides great advantages for members. True or false?’, ‘How can PVRI reach the general non-medical audience?, and ‘How can PVRI effectively demonstrate its value and successes?’ Still mulling over these questions, attendees retired to the dining room for dinner at the end of the first day. 


Wednesday January 29th

 Wednesday was the start of the parallel program, which confused some attendees regarding location. Luckily, the Young Council was on hand to ensure everyone found the ‘Saal’ they were looking for, and to further offer their services for interview, lecture and abstract recordings. Wednesday also marked the first day of the poster presentations, which were well organized and ordered.

 The Joint Symposium opened with sessions on Infection, inflammation and pulmonary vascular disease, chaired by Serge Adnot and Friedrich Grimminger, and included presentations from Norbert Voelkel from Richmond, Brian Graham from Denver, Marc Gladwin from Pittsburgh, and Soni Savai Pullamsetti from Bad Nauheim. After the coffee break, the program continued with Stem cells in heart and lung (re)-generation chaired by Norbert Voelkel and Thomas Braun. Ed Morrisey from Philadelphia, Hesham Sadek, Dallas, Jeffrey Whitsett, Cincinnati, and Luca Caputo from Bad Nauheim presented their ideas and findings in concordance with the theme, and each presentation was met with discussion from the attendees before retiring for lunch and the poster sessions. 


Simultaneously, the smaller Spiegelsaal started the day with the PVRI Breakout Symposia sessions, which have all been recorded and are available for the PVRI membership under the ‘Learning’, and then ‘Conference Talks’ tab on the PVRI website. On Wednesday morning, these included sessions on Technology progress in cardiopulmonary disease,chaired by Thomas Braun and Ralf Brandes. Sessions included ‘Genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics’, presented by Thomas Braun from Bad Nauheim, ‘Small animal imaging’ by Ralph Schermuly, Giessen, ‘Molecular analysis and high resolution imaging’ by Ralf Brandes from Frankfurt, anda presentation of the best selected abstract, in this case ‘Oxygen uptake efficiency slope is a valid sub maximal measure of exercise performance in pre capillary pulmonary hypertension’, presented by Stephen Thomson from Glasgow. 


After discussion, the membership had a short break with some refreshments, followed by the PVRI Breakout Symposia session Pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension. Barbara Cockrill, from Boston, presented the excellent ‘Genetics and pathophysiology of PH during pregnancy’, after which Zeenat Safdar from Houston presented ‘Management of PH in pregnancy in PH centers’. Riyadh-based Manal Al Hazmi’s ‘Management of PH in pregnancy in the developing world’ concluded the session, as Mamotabo Matshela, who had been selected for Best Abstract presentation, was unfortunately not able to attend.

After lunch and the first poster session, the theme of pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension was further explored in a PVRI Taskforce meeting of the newly formed ‘Women’s Health Taskforce’, which met in room ‘Bad Homburg’ to discuss their forthcoming consensus document. Simultaneously, the PVRI Pediatric Taskforce and the PVRI Chronic Heart Disease Taskforce met and promptly froze in room ‘Parksaal’, until they were moved into one of the recording rooms with working heating. All taskforces reported productive and efficient meetings, and enthusiastic follow up plans.

The PVRI Chronicle meeting, initially meant to take place during lunchtime, had to reschedule to the evening as a number of its members were involved in the poster presentations. Sadly the evening meeting was necessarily short as Giessen-based members needed to catch the last train home, but in a nutshell, the committee was congratulated on their hard work for the first issue of PVRI Chronicle, and asked to encourage submissions from their colleagues and fellows for the next issue. Overall, the committee felt positive about the content and format of the Journal, but agreed that more frequent Skype meetings should be undertaken (at least six a year).


The afternoon continued at 15:00 with the Joint Symposium main program session Genetics and personalised medicine in cardiopulmonary diseases, chaired by John Newman and Ralph Schermuly, and featuring presentations by Jim Loyd from Nashville, Heribert Schunkert from Munchen, Marlene Rabinovitch from Stanford and Florent Soubrier from Paris. After his impressive talk, the Young Council approached Jim Loyd for a lecture recording, which he graciously agreed to, along with Richard Trembath from the UK. His and Dr. Trembath’s lecture recordings can be found in the PVRI website at ‘Learning’, and ‘Lectures’. Users can search by name once in the ‘Lectures’ section.

 The PVRI Breakout Symposia began the afternoon with Post-IMPRESS, what is the future of TKI in PH Therapy?, chaired by Mark Gladwin and Werner Seeger. Ardeschir Ghofrani (Giessen) presented ‘The historical background’, followed by ‘The FDA’s view’ by Stuart Rich (Chicago) and ‘The EMA’s view’ by Amany Elgazayerly. Rounding the session off was Newcastle-based Paul Corris’ ‘A clinician’s view.’ Discussion, which will be transcribed for interested parties, was followed by Pulmonary Hypertension in chronic lung disease in the Breakout symposia, chaired by Joan A. Barbera and Andreas Guenther, whilst the Main Program focused on Left and right heart hypertrophy and maladaptation. The latter was chaired by Ardeschir Ghofrani, and included sessions by Stephan Rosenkranz from Cologne, Paul Hassoun from Baltimore, Georg Ertl from Wurzburg, and an abstract presentation by Rolf Schreckenberg from Giessen. The Breakout symposia included the following presentations: ‘PH concomitant with or due to COPD’ by Yochai Adir from Haifa; ‘PH concomitant with or due to ILD’ from Martin Kolb, Hamilton; ‘PH in CPFE and advanced sarcoidosis’ from Vincent Cottin from Lyon; and Giessen’s Matthias Clauss presenting the best abstract, entitled ‘iNOS and EMAPII induction are part of a feed forward loop to promote lung emphysema’. With sessions ending around 19:00, the membership was invited to wander outside for a warming hot wine punch reception, followed by an excellent dinner in the Dolce. After the first full day of parallel sessions, the dining room was abuzz with conversation, collaboration, ideas, and relaxation, all setting the stage for another full and productive day on Thursday.

Thursday January 30th

Thursday started with fresh energy at 9:00, with the Epigenetics of heart and lung disease sessions chaired by Jim Loyd and Stefanie Dimmler, whilst the Breakout Symposia focused on Novel technologies for healthcare in the developing world. The latter was chaired by Julio Sandoval, and kicked off with a presentation by President of the Saudi Association of Pulmonary Hypertension (SAPH) Majdy Idrees from Riyadh, entitled ‘The challenges for clinical trials in PH in the developing world’. An invigorating lecture, it inspired a lot of discussion, and was followed by ‘The Recife experience’ presented by Angela Bandeira from Recife, and a presentation by the new PVRI President Glennis Haworth from London, entitled ‘PVRI programs to promote pulmonary vascular disease management in the developing world.’ 


It details the ways in which PVRI is involved in direct management of pulmonary vascular disease throughout the world, and is also available to the general public on the website. Meanwhile, the main program sessions included lectures from Kevin White, Glasgow; Thomas Thum, Hannover; and Rachel Hopper from Stanford, who presented the best abstract. At 11:00, the PVRI Central Asia Taskforce met in Parksaal to discuss the June 17-18 Bishkek meeting and a co-ordinated effort within the Central Asia region to further promote knowledge and awareness of pulmonary vascular diseases. The High Altitude Taskforce also met in the morning, starting at 8:30 and continuing until nearly noon, when the room was filled instead with members of the Schistosomiasis Taskforce. All in all, these extra rooms have proven very welcome and useful in allowing members of the PVRI to congregate for specific purposes apart from the general conference sessions.


 A second poster presentation session took place in the mid-morning to early afternoon, and was followed by lunch in the Dolce. At 14:00, the sessions resumed with a vengeance, with Hypoxia and high altitude disease, chaired by Andrew Peacock and Ralf Brandes, kicking off in Kursaal. Larissa Shimoda from Baltimore, Philipp Eaton from London, Erik Swenson from Seattle and Agnes Gorlach from Munchen all presented, though the main program sessions could sadly not be recorded by PVRI. However, the Breakout Symposia focused on Systems biology and bioinformatics in pulmonary hypertension and was chaired by former PVRI President Martin Wilkins, and Patricia Thislethwaite. Some of the following presentations can be found on the PVRI website: ‘Setting the scene 1: the date flow from molecular genetics and systems approaches to pulmonary vascular diseases’ by Stefan Graf, Cambridge; ‘Setting the scene 2: new biomarkers for PH and right ventricular function,’ by Steve Kawut from Philadelphia; ‘How to interrogate Big Data’ by Janine Felix from Rotterdam; and the best abstract, entitled ‘HRQol and Collagen Biomarks in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension’, presented by Zeenat Safdar from Houston. This spelled the end for the Breakout Symposia sessions for the day, but after the coffee break Nicholas Hill from Boston presented the first PVRI Robyn Barst Memorial Lecture in Kursaal . His talk was titled ‘Pulmonary vascular abnormalities in lung disease from a global perspective’, and was met with approval by the audience, and, Prof. Hill said he hoped, Robyn Barst herself.

Gala Dinner

Afterwards, the membership was reminded that the buses for the Gala Dinner would depart at 17:45 sharp. Four buses were arranged, and after a bit of confusion regarding the pick-up location, eventually all interested attendees were delivered to reception and dinner at castle ‘Burg Gleiberg’, dressed to the nines. 


Dinner and entertainment, organised by the multi-talented Daniela Weber from the ECCPS, was magical, and consisted of a show of ‘science magicians’ and a fantastic band. But first, Werner Seeger from the ECCPS thanked the membership and all those involved for their contributions to the meeting, including the attendees, discussion participants, and the hardwork of conference organisers Daniela Weber, Regina Lichte and Sylvia Weissmann. Prof. Seeger started his talk with the proclamation that he ‘loves PVRI!’, to applause from the room, and continued to explain the PVRI and its mission to those who may not yet be familiar with the Institute. He then went on to proclaim his love for the ECCPS as well, before declaring that the combination of both was what he loved even better, and spoke of his happiness regarding the PVRI/ECCPS collaboration in the form of this joint symposium. However, Prof. Werner’s utmost love was reserved for first, his wife, family and the German soccer team, but a very close second was the Justus-Liebig University Giessen. On that note, he introduced Prof. Joybrato Mukherjee, the President of the Justus-Liebig University Giessen. Prof. Mukherjee gave a brief talk touching upon the importance of giving research-based advice to political leaders where human health, resources management and sustainability are concerned, and the significance of the University, the ECCPS and similar organisations in the sight of this mission. He then thoroughly surprised former PVRI President Martin Wilkins, by awarding him with the title of Liebig-Professor of the University of Giessen for his outstanding academic and scientific achievements. After calls for a ‘speech, speech!’, Prof. Wilkins charmed the audience with a very concise few German words which included ‘gute abend’, ‘danke schon’, and ‘das ist gut’ , before speaking of his honour at receiving the title of Liebig-Professor and thanking his wife, family and the English soccer team. 


Achievement Awards

Following this, the PVRI continued its tradition of presenting the PVRI Achievement Awards during the Gala Dinner. PVRI President Sheila Glennis Haworth and PVRI President Emiritus and Treasurer (formerly Managing Director) Ghazwan Butrous took to the stage to announce the PVRI Achievement Award 2013, which was presented to the Saudi Association of Pulmonary Hypertension (SAPH), in recognition of their distinguished efforts in enhancing clinical practise and research in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. SAPH President Majdy Idrees and colleague Manal Al Hazmi were asked to the stage and presented with this PVRI honour, which is also announced on the SAPH website. Prof. Haworth detailed the many projects the SAPH is involved in on a yearly basis, and the excellent response to their multiple awareness days, courses and initiatives, as well as their very well attended meetings of high scientific quality. Prof. Butrous further expounded that the achievement award nomination for SAPH had been unanimously backed by the PVRI Executive Committee, and felt it was fully and thoroughly deserved.


 Next was the Certificate of Recognition, established in 2011. The 2013 plaque was awarded to Prof. Chen Wang, in recognition of his work promoting scientific advances in pulmonary vascular diseases throughout China and beyond. Prof. Haworth introduced Prof. Wang as being ‘the director of basically most of Chinese medicine’, and as a central figure in the health delivery system in the people’s republic of China. ‘He is nationally responsible for medical education and medical research, as well as an outstanding clinician in respiratory medicine, and was the initiator of a very successful tobacco control program- and all this is really just the beginning.’ Prof. Haworth then wished him a happy new year, as the Gala Dinner coincided with the Chinese New Year, and said that she looked forward to working him with him further throughout 2014 to prepare for the 2015 PVRI AGM and Scientific Workshops and Debates in Guangzhou, China. Prof. Wang responded with a few words thanking the PVRI for the Certificate, and mentioned that he looked forward to seeing all attendees at the Guangzhou meeting. 


Prof. Butrous then announced the PVRI Lifetime Achievement Award, which was introduced last year at the Istanbul meeting. The award for 2013 was unanimously appointed to Prof. E. Kenneth Weir, who unfortunately could not be present for the ceremony. Prof. Haworth jokingly admonished the audience that they should feel very sorry for Prof. Weir, as he was currently on vacation in the Galapagos Islands. She went on to describe him as the epitome of the ideal clinician scientist, as “he is a wonderful clinician, erudite, compassionate, and successfully combines the art and science of a really good clinician”, and specifically named his work on potassium channels and mitochondrial function as revolutionary. This concluded the speeches for the evening, and opened the floor to the second course of dinner, and later, magic and dancing. All in all, a very good night, dutifully recorded by the hardworking PVRI Young Council.

Friday January 31st

Despite Thursday’s late night, Friday’s program took no prisoners and started early at 9, with Adaptive and maladapted angiogenesis,chaired by Duncan Stewart and Ingrid Fleming in Kursaal, and High Altitude Medicine, chaired by Norbert Weismann and Almaz Aldashev in Spiegelsaal. The former included talks from Eli Keshet, Jerusalem; Bernard Thebaud from Ottawa; John Cooke, Stanford; and the best selected abstract. Spiegelsaal saw the following presentations: ‘Hypoxia sensing,’ from Paul Schumacker, Chicago; ‘HIF and eryhthropoietin: functions in the cardiopulmonary system’ by H. Franklin Bunn, Boston; ‘Chronic mountain sickness’ by Aaron Waxman, Boston, and the best abstract entitled ‘Acquired and genetic alterations of the miR-210-ISCU axis to promote iron-sulfur cluster defiency and pulmonary hypertension’. All the Spiegelsaal talks (excepting the abstract) are available on the PVRI website.

The poster sessions that had taken place over the previous few days now culminated in the mid-morning poster price awards. The afternoon sessions were kept short in the understanding that many attendees would have to leave early to catch trains, planes and automobiles to get back home, or in some cases, onwards to the next meeting. Spiegelsaal featured the Hot Topic Session on ‘Emerging issues of paediatric pulmonary hypertension’, after which the PVRI Paediatric Taskforce and interested parties retreated to another room for an in depth discussion on the week’s sessions. Meanwhile, Kursaal held a session on Molecular imaging in heart and lung disease, chaired by Paul Hassoun and Andreas Zeiher. Lectures included different angles and perspectives within the main topic. Joseph Wu from Stanford, Frank Bengel from Hannover, David Newby from Edinburgh, and finally Christian Schonfeld from Hannover rounded off the 7th PVRI Scientific Workshops and Debates, and marked the end to the Joint Symposium ECCPS/PVRI 2014. 


Overall, the feedback was very positive, specifically regarding the quality of the science. Some members did indicate that they preferred the more intimate feel of previous PVRI meetings, something which is being considered for the 2015 China meeting. For the Young Council, the meeting proved fruitful with recordings of 11 lectures, 17 interviews, and 22 abstract presentations, as well as 34 conference talks. However, for next year, the Young Council aims higher, and needs your help. I would like to urge you all to consider bringing slides ready for a lecture recording (or two) to the China meeting, which takes place 15-18th of January 2015. The Young Council is responsible for populating the PVRI educational website for the benefit of the whole membership, but cannot do so without your help. A big thank you to everyone who participated, and we hope to see the lecture, interview and abstracts recordings grow year after year! Please have a look at the Gallery here to again savour the Bad Nauheim meeting.


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PVRI Chronicle Vol 1: Issue 2 cover image

December 2014

PVRI Chronicle Vol 1: Issue 2

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