Recap for Seventh Annual CVRI Symposium - 2019

Since it was founded in 2012, the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) at Baylor College of Medicine has been hosting an annual symposium that offers an exceptional opportunity to learn about the latest, most innovative research work related to cardiovascular diseases. Led by CVRI Director Dr. Xander Wehrens and Associate Director Dr. Biykem Bozkurt, the event encourages participants from departments, affiliated hospitals and other institutions across the Texas Medical Center to meet and facilitate scientific collaborations.

Dr. Adam Kuspa, senior vice president and dean of research and Salih J. Wakil, Ph.D., distinguished service professor in the Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, opened the event this year, welcoming the audience to an exciting day of discovery and opportunities for networking.

Keynote Speakers

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Dr. Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, speaking at the Seventh Annual Cardiovascular Research Institute Symposium.

This year’s symposium featured two keynote lectures: Dr. Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, and Dr. Mark Sussman, director of the Integrated Regenerative Research Institute at San Diego State University.

During her talk, Jessup raised concerns about the persistent and devastating consequences of heart disease and stroke in the American population, the challenges of interpreting ‘big data’ to improve this situation, and the need to foster more productive collaborations. She also highlighted the importance of studies focusing on women’s cardiovascular disease as it continues to be a woman’s greatest health threat, claiming the lives of 1 in 3.

Jessup encouraged the audience to visit the AHA portal “Research Goes Red for Women,” an initiative calling on women across the United States to contribute to health research. She concluded with AHA’s mission statement: “To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.”

Sussman spoke about the latest research on polyploidy in myocardial homeostasis, repair and ageing. Polyploidy refers to the state of a cell having more than two paired sets of chromosomes. He explained that polyploidy is a normal state in human bodies and that it can play both positive and negative roles.

For instance, polyploidy is of physiological significance during platelet development, but it also may play a role in diseases such as cancer. He showed that the human heart is tremendously polyploid and prompted the audience to think about the role polyploidy may play on cardiomyocyte and interstitial cell functions in health and disease.

In addition, Sussman highlighted the significant differences in polyploidy between human and murine (mouse) hearts and the implications of these differences when using mice as models of human disease.


Poster Session and Awards

Dozens of abstracts were submitted and reviewed this year, and those with the highest scores from four different categories (student, postdoctoral researcher, clinical fellow/resident, and junior faculty) were selected for platform presentations during the symposium.

Furthermore, this year’s symposium featured 81 poster presentations by graduate students, postdocs, junior faculty members and clinical fellows. Each poster was reviewed and scored by two judges throughout the day’s poster sessions, and winners were selected from the same four categories as above. This year, there was an additional poster award highlighting the best overall outcomes research.

Top abstracts and poster presenters were recognized with a plaque and monetary award during the symposium’s afternoon session. View a listing and photos of the 2019 CVRI Symposium best abstract and poster winners.