Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Pint of Science is the world’s largest public science festival bringing researchers to local pubs, cafes and spaces to share their scientific discoveries with the public.

© Emma Phillipson

This year, Pint of Science 2022 is taking place from 9 – 11 May 2022, with three nights in Oxford devoted to the popular ‘Our Body’ theme. The first, held at St Aldates Tavern, focused on heart disease and regeneration. Dr Joaquim Vieira, BHF Basic Science Research Fellow and Principal Investigator at the Institute of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine (IDRM), talked about ‘Uncovering the silent genes behind heart regeneration’, which generated a lively discussion and was followed by a science quiz.

There is presently no effective treatment available to mend the heart after a heart attack. Recent work from Dr Vieira has shown that the heart attempts to replenish its damaged tissue by reverting to similar processes that were used in the embryo to build the heart before birth. It is important to understand the molecular mechanisms behind heart development in order to identify new targets for adult heart repair and regeneration.

Dr Vieira investigates how epicardial cells become activated and invade the heart’s myocardial layer in a process called the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is necessary for the formation of coronary blood vessels and cardiac muscle. Once the heart is fully formed, these cells form a protective outer later, and no longer help to produce new blood vessels and muscle cells. This means the heart has very limited regenerative potential and cannot compensate for the major loss of cells caused by a heart attack. The Vieira Group aims to understand how the EMT process works during development, with particular attention to the WT1 gene, which controls epicardial cell activation, before switching off in the adult heart. The ultimate goal is to reactivate the EMT process in the adult heart and harness the regenerative potential of the epicardium.

Following his talk on Monday night, Dr Vieira said: “I truly enjoyed the opportunity to share with the wider public our research to better understand gene regulation in the context of heart development and response to injury. As a researcher and junior group leader, I believe it is important to step out of our comfort zone and participate in initiatives such as Pint of Science to promote public engagement with science and raise awareness to the work sponsored by BHF being developed here in DPAG.”

Read more about Pint of Science.

Similar stories

Inaugural winners of the DPAG Prize for Public Engagement with Research announced

Congratulations are in order for the winners Katherine Brimblecombe and Anna Kordala, and also to Jéssica Luiz and Andia Redpath who were highly commended for their outreach and public engagement work.

Shaping Destiny team showcases virtual reality experience

DPAG researchers based at the IDRM joined Body Politic dance group members at Pegasus Theatre on Monday 21 November 2022 to showcase a unique virtual reality (VR) experience created by the interdisciplinary Shaping Destiny public engagement project.

Joaquim Vieira recognised in national image competition

DPAG BHF Intermediate Research Fellow Dr Joaquim Vieira has been shortlisted for the British Heart Foundation’s annual ‘Reflections of Research’ image competition.

How desk jobs alter your brain – and why they’re so tiring

A fascinating new article on The Conversation website by DPAG's Professor Zoltán Molnár and Professor Tamas Horvath from Yale University.

DPAG Myth Busters and Shaping Destiny teams engage the public at IF Oxford 2022

Two DPAG-led teams of volunteers engaged hundreds of visitors at Wesley Memorial Church on Saturday 8 October 2022 as part of The Oxford Science and Ideas Festival’s Explorazone. The Myth Busters team assembled by DPAG’s Outreach and Public Engagement Working Group sought to discuss and debunk myths and misconceptions of biology. The Shaping Destiny team run by members of the Srinivas Group, IDRM, in collaboration with Prof Wes Williams at TORCH explored with the public what is human and how body forms have been historically perceived with a unique virtual reality experience.