2018: Evangelos Oikonomou
Evangelos Oikonomou is in the third year of his DPhil, supervised by Charlambos Antoniades and Jemma Hopewell (CVM). Evangelos has pioneered novel ways of detecting coronary inflammation using a novel computed tomography (CT) technology that tracks three-dimensional changes in the composition of perivascular adipose tissue.
As a medical student at the University of Athens in Greece, I experienced first-hand the burden of cardiovascular disease in the community and its impact on patients and their families. I have since considered it my duty to try to improve cardiovascular prevention through translational research that would impact clinical care and patient outcomes.
After graduating in 2015, I moved to Oxford to read for a DPhil in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Professors Charalambos Antoniades and Jemma Hopewell. My project focused on the development of novel non-invasive imaging modalities to assess the interplay between the perivascular adipose tissue and the vascular wall. Building on our early observation that vascular inflammation, a hallmark of atherosclerotic vascular disease, induces phenotypic changes in the composition of perivascular adipose tissue, I developed a novel CT technology that tracks such three-dimensional changes in perivascular adipose tissue as an index of vascular inflammation. Our innovative work was funded through a British Heart Foundation Translational Award.
In order to assess the diagnostic and prognostic value of this method, I designed a series of cross-sectional, retrospective and prospective cohort studies, applying novel radiomic techniques in the post-processing of traditional cardiac CT scans.
I found that CT-based perivascular fat phenotyping can identify unstable coronary lesions, predict the future progression of coronary atherosclerosis and more importantly, adverse clinical events, with significant incremental value beyond conventional risk factors and the traditional interpretation of cardiac CT scans. My findings to date have been published in high-impact journals (Lancet & Science Translational Medicine), and have led to two patent applications on the methods for radiomic perivascular fat characterization. I was also honoured to receive the 2018 Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science of the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich as well as the 2017 Toshiba Young Investigator Award of the Society of Cardiovascular CT in Washington, D.C.
Three years after starting my research project, I remain passionate about medical innovation and translational cardiovascular imaging. In the era of precision medicine, novel imaging technologies can offer a more personalised assessment of cardiovascular risk with important implications in both primary and secondary prevention. To this end, I am currently working on applying artificial intelligence and machine learning-based approaches to maximise the diagnostic yield of cardiac CT, one of the most commonly used diagnostic tests in the NHS, with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden and impact of cardiovascular disease.