This year’s annual congress of the Swiss Society of Cardiology was held in Basel from Wednesday June 6 to Friday June 8, 2018 (fig. 1).
The congress was organised together with the Swiss Society for Cardiac Surgery led by its president Michele Genoni from Zurich, and attracted 1471 participants (including 348 from industry) from all over Switzerland.
The scientific programme was led by 176 moderators and featured, in 41 sessions, lectures and talks by 240 speakers from Switzerland and abroad.
Of the 214 submitted abstracts, 152 were presented. Of those, 76 were oral presentations and 76 were part of the poster session.
The Andreas Grüntzig lecture
One highlight was the Andreas Grüntzig lecture and award given this year by Professor Tiziano Mocetti from the CardioCentro Lugano (fig. 2).
He reviewed the history of cardiology care in the Ticino and the growth of the CardioCentro that he founded and developed to its current size and importance – a truly unique and impressive achievement. Indeed, out of a small division within the Ospedale Civico di Lugano, Prof. Mocetti created, thanks to a large donation by a patient of his, an impressive, internationally visible heart centre offering the whole spectrum of current cardiovascular care, except transplantation.
In addition, his team published seminal papers in the best journals of medicine such as the European Heart Journal, Circulation and the New England Journal of Medicine, among others.
The Amgen research prize
The Amgen research prize, formerly the cardiovascular biology prize supported by Werner Lambert, then Pfizer and now Amgen, was founded by Prof. Thomas F. Lüscher in 1997 and was first awarded a year later at the annual congress of the Swiss Society of Cardiology to a promising young cardiovascular researcher. The prize consisted then, as it does now, of 30 000 CHF for future research by the winner. Furthermore, winners are asked to provide a review article on their research for Cardiovascular Medicine to make the work known at the national level.
From the beginning, it was of importance to the founder to ensure a fair and objective assessment of the applications. To that end, a scientific board, consisting not only of Swiss members, but also experts from abroad was assembled to minimise conflicts of interest. Furthermore, the president himself never participated in the rating, but rather assured proper procedures for selection of the winner. This year’s committee consisted of: Thomas F. Lüscher, president, Zurich/London; Michel Burnier, Lausanne; Filippo Crea, Rome; François Mach, Geneva; Christian Matter, Zurich; Christian Mueller, Basel; Francesco Paneni, Zurich; and Thomas Thum, Hannover, FRG. The winners of the last 20 years are listed in table 1.
|Table 1: Winners of the research Prize of the Swiss Society of Cardiology from 1998 to 2018.|
|1998||Jan Kustera, Bern|
|1999||Matthias Barton, Zurich|
|2000||Fançois Mach, Geneva|
|2001||Frank Ruschitzka, Zurich|
|2002||Brenda R. Kwak, Geneva|
|2003||Simon Hoerstrup, Zurich|
|2004||David Kurz, Zurich|
|2005||Sabine Steffens, Geneva|
|2006||Roberto Corti, Zurich|
|2007||Giovanni Camici, Zurich|
|2008||Michele Miragoli, Bern|
|2009||Elena Osto, Zurich/Padua|
|2010||Gabriella Kania, Zurich|
|2011||Christian Templin, Zurich|
|2012||Benedikt Weber, Zurich|
|2013||Fabrizio Montecucco, Geneva|
|2014||Emrush Rexhaj, Bern|
|2015||Elena Osto, Zurich|
|2016||Baris Gencer, Geneva|
|2017||Christoph Gräni, Zurich|
|2018||Sarah Costantino, Zurich and Raphael Twerenbold, Basel|
This year, for the first time, two candidates of equal scientific achievement were awarded the Amgen research prize of the Swiss Society of Cardiology 2018: Sara Costantino from the Centre for Molecular Cardiology in Zurich and Raphael Twerenbold from the University Hospital in Basel (fig. 3).
Sarah Costantino recieved the award for her work on the molecular mechanisms of diabetic endothelial dysfunction and vascular disease (Diabetes. 2017;66:2472–82) and transcription of the aging gene p66shc in obesity (Eur Heart J. 2017; online; fig. 4).
Raphael Twerenbold was selected by the committee for his important and clinically relevant studies on the diagnostic value of troponin in patients with acute chest pain and possible acute coronary syndromes (Circulation. 2017;136:1495–508 and Circulation. 2018; 137:436–51; fig. 5).
The general assembly
The general assembly of the Swiss Society of Cardiology took place on Wednesday June 6 and was chaired elegantly by the outgoing president Michael Zellweger from Basel, who has effectively led the society for the last 2 years (fig. 6). He will be followed by the incoming president for the next 2-year term, Giovanni Pedrazzini from Lugano. Michael Billinger was elected as the new representative of Bern University to follow Thomas Suter, who stepped down, and Christoph Wyss from the Heart Clinic Hirslanden, who will take over the role of Urs Kaufman (who played a pivotal role in the negotiations on reimbursement for cardiological clinical services). His commitment to these important issues was highly appreciated by the assembly with an impressive round of applause. Finally, Patrick Monnier, a representative of the practicing cardiologists, was replaced by Tomoé Stampfli Andres from the Hospital La Tour in Meyrin. Lastly, Felix Tanner from Zurich was elected vice-president and, as such, president-elect for the next term 2020 to 2022.
After the report of the president, Paul Erne form Lucerne and Peter Buser from Basel were named honorary members of the Swiss Society of Cardiology (fig. 7).
The president reminded the members that the Swiss Society of Cardiology celebrated its 70th birthday this year at their annual congress – an impressive tradition for a scientific society and good reason to look back on developments in cardiology and cardiac surgery, as wel as to look forward, to speculate and to dream about future advancements. This was indeed the special focus of the 2018 programme, with eminent keynote speakers in different areas of the field highlighting the advances in cardiology, and those that Switzerland, in particular, could enjoy. Future developments were also discussed. Thus, as the president mentioned, cardiology lives up to the statement of Jack Nickolson that “aging means getting better!”
Important items were the changes in reimbursement for cardiology services in Switzerland and the political issues behind them, which will make life more difficult for practising colleagues. Furthermore, the proposal of the board to create subspeciality certifications attracted an unforeseen number of members of the Swiss Society of Cardiology to the general assembly. The president explained in detail the process the board followed to come up with the proposal, which lasted almost two years. The proposal had been send to all members of the Swiss Society of Cardiology beforehand to allow for an informed decision making and eventually vote. Many cardiology societies worldwide have introduced such a concept and a matching curriculum that reflects the impressive developments in this speciality in the last three decades. For invasive procedures such as percutaneous coronary angioplasty, transcatheter aortic valve implantation and the ablation of arrhythmias in particular, a comprehensive training programme is required today to ensure efficacy and safety for patients undergoing such procedures. In spite of this, the proposal of the board was surprisingly rejected with 110 voting no against 69 yes and 2 abstentions.
Overall, this year’s annual congress of the Swiss Society of Cardiology was a true success. Its members can truly be proud of it, but life goes on and we already have to think about the next annual meeting which will take place in Interlaken on June 18–21 in 2019.
Some issues remain, however, in particular the question of whether we should still allow cardiologists with only a basic training and certified as FHM of cardiology to perform any investigation or procedure without documentation of successfully passing a structured practical and theoretical core curriculum and examination. History will tell, and we shall learn that those who do not listen to the historical process – as Mikhal Gorbatchov put it – will be overruled. We shall see – as always predictions are difficult, but this issue will not disappear with the 2018 vote. Indeed it is likely come back on the table.