A well-attended Medical Research Day and a Research Award for two scientists from LIH
On 28th October 2015 was the Medical Research Day, an event organised by the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), jointly with LIH and the University of Luxembourg. More than 200 attendants - pupils, students and general public - had the opportunity to get informed about the aims, the current challenges and the prospects of clinical research through presentations and workshops.
Over the whole day, the public could assist to workshops, plenary presentations and mini-conferences held by around twenty physicians and researchers from the three institutions. The highlight of the event was a round table that gathered personalities from healthcare, academics, politics and civil society who chiefly debated about the importance of personalised medicine, the involvement of physicians in medical research and the role of patients. The event was closed with an award ceremony, rewarding doctors, researchers and caregivers of CHL and LIH for the exceptional quality of their work conducted in 2014. Two of the prizes went to LIH scientists: Dr Victoria El-Khoury and Melanie Vausort both received the award for translational research for their successful research projects carried out in collaboration with physicians from CHL.
Dr Victoria El-Khoury investigated the role of autophagy, a cellular ‘self-eating’ process, in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and its modulation by a molecule with therapeutic potential: the histone deacetylases inhibitor MGCD0103. When treating CLL patient cell samples with the substance, she and her colleagues found that autophagy is suppressed by activation of a signalling pathway targeting the autophagic process, downregulation of the transcription of certain genes and proteolytic degradation of the autophagy machinery. MGCD0103 is thus a potent anti-cancer agent that could be used in combination with or even replace other therapeutic agents. This work was published in the journal ‘Leukemia’ in August 2014.
Mélanie Vausort from the Cardiovascular Research Unit of the Department of Population Health has performed a study on long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), a novel class of non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression and are thought to be associated with cardiac disease. She and her colleagues analysed lncRNAs in blood samples from patients with acute myocardial infarction. In a publication in ‘Circulation Research’ in July last year, they reported the finding that levels of lncRNAs in blood cells are regulated after myocardial infarction and are therefore good biomarker candidates to predict patient outcome.
Of note, the Cardiovascular Research Unit also contributed to another project that was awarded, that of Dr Pascal Stammet from CHL. He received the award for clinical medical research for his work on the prediction of neurological sequelae following cardiac arrest.
Award for translational research for Dr Victoria El-Khoury (middle), here with Dr Anna Chioti and Dr Guy Berchem
Award for translational research for Mélanie Vausort (right), here with Dr Anna Chioti