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Kaitlyn Dennis, Ujang Purnama and Kerstin Timm have won prizes across each of the three award categories at this year’s Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism conference, demonstrating DPAG's continued excellence in cardiac metabolism research.

L-R: Kaitlyn Dennis, Ujang Purnama and Kerstin Timm

DPhil students Kaitlyn Dennis and Ujang Purnama and visiting BHF CRE Transition Fellow Dr Kerstin Timm have been recognised by the Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism at their 2021 meeting, held virtually for the first time on 23-24 September 2021.

Kaitlyn Dennis of the Heather Group won the William C. Stanley Young Investigator Award (EIA), a major focus of the annual meetings, which highlights the scientific accomplishments of promising young researchers. Her oral presentation entitled “Diabetic mitochondria are resistant to palmitoyl CoA inhibition of respiration, which is detrimental during ischaemia” presented work exploring the links between type 2 diabetes and abnormal energy use in the heart following a heart attack. “Using a rat model of type 2 diabetes, we found that fats prevent energy loss during a heart attack, but this regulation is reduced in diabetes. As such, hearts of rats with type 2 diabetes use energy more quickly than those without, reducing their prognosis.”

Ujang Purnama of the Carr Group won a Best Pitch award for a talk entitled "Activation of HIF1α rescues the hypoxic response and reverses metabolic dysfunction in the diabetic heart". He presented research exploring the potential of HIF1α activation using Molidustat (a prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor known to stimulate production of hemoglobin and red blood cells) "to overcome the blunted HIF activation and correct the abnormal cardiac metabolism induced by diabetes. The research was conducted using both human cardiomyocytes and animal models demonstrating that molidustat can improve cardiac metabolism and HIF signalling in diabetes, resulting in improved recovery of the heart post-ischaemia.”

Dr Kerstin Timm, a former Research Fellow in the Tyler Group who remains a visiting researcher at DPAG, and Principal Investigator of the Cardio-oncology and metabolism group at the Department of Pharmacology, won the Best Poster Award. Her poster entitled “AICAR prevents doxorubicin-induced heart failure in rats" outlined work performed in a rat model of doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. “Doxorubicin in a commonly used chemotherapeutic that can cause severe cardiac side effects. To this day there are no specific cardioprotective treatments available for patients suffering from the condition. In the work that I presented in this poster I showed that the AMPK-activator, AICAR, can prevent heart failure in rats treated with doxorubicin, and that this may be due to improved fatty acid oxidation in mitochondria.”

The Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism was founded in 2001, with the intent of providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas by a group of investigators that had a special interest in the multiple roles of intermediary metabolism in the cardiovascular system. An important aim of the Society is to foster interactions between young investigators and senior scientists and the Society's meetings are deliberately designed to maximise these interactions. Their 2021 meeting was themed “Metabolism at the crossroads of health and disease".

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