Dr Joaquim Vieira ‘Investigating a role for Wt1 locus-contained long noncoding antisense RNAs in epicardial activation’

JMVieira_Biochemical Society Travel Grant Report‘I am a senior postdoctoral research assistant in the group of Professor Paul Riley and am based in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG), University of Oxford. My research is funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and focused on the investigation of the epigenetic mechanisms regulating epicardial activation during heart development and disease. The epicardium is the outermost layer of the heart and during embryogenesis contributes to the major cardiovascular cell types including fibroblasts, cardiac muscle cells (cardiomyocytes), coronary endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. As such, epicardialderived cells (EPDCs) hold great therapeutic potential in the context of adult heart disease that is characterised by a demand in new cardiac muscle and vascular supply in order to replace damaged or lost muscle. Noteworthy, myocardial infarction (MI, also known as heart attack) leads to loss of more than one billion of cardiomyocytes and at present, the only existing treatment to compensate for this massive loss of cells is heart transplantation. Being awarded with a Biochemical Society Travel Grant, has allowed me to attend and present my findings at the 2015 Weinstein Cardiovascular Conference, which took place in Boston, MA, USA from the 30th of April to the 2nd of May (http://www.childrenshospital.org/weinstein2015). The Weinstein Cardiovascular Conference is an annual meeting for scientists investigating normal and abnormal development of the heart and vasculature as it may ultimately relate to human disease. As such, this was the ideal scientific platform to expose my research to the international cardiovascular research community, obtain advice and assistance with future directions on the project and identify future collaborators for the research fellowship I am currently preparing for application later in the year. Indeed, I found attending this meeting extremely useful for my scientific career and am grateful to the Biochemical Society for its support.’

Dr Joaquim Vieira

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