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Marios Margaritis

As an undergraduate at the University of Athens Medical School, I developed a keen interest in cardiovascular medicine. While I was student, I actively participated in a research collaboration between the Universities of Oxford and Athens, exploring the pleiotropic antioxidant effects of statins in human cardiovascular tissue. This was a massively rewarding experience, which enforced my resolve to delve into the world of academic medicine.

After graduating in 2011, I was awarded a BHF CRE Studentship to read for a DPhil in Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof Charalambos Antoniades, Prof Barbara Casadei and Prof Keith Channon. The focus of my research was the interactions between adipose tissue and the vascular wall in human atherosclerosis. I explored the role of adiponectin (a protein involved in regulating glucose and breaking down fatty acids) and other adipokines in the regulation of human vascular redox state. Through my research, I described a novel bi-directional interaction between the human perivascular adipose tissue and the underlying vasculature. I found that high oxidative stress production in the vasculature triggers an up-regulation of adiponectin production in perivascular fat, acting as a local paracrine defence mechanism against increased oxidative stress. My DPhil work led to the publication of four original articles in Circulation, Circulation Research, ATVB and Diabetes, as well as receipt in 2013 of the Young Investigator Award at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Amsterdam and the Young Investigator Prize at the BAS/BSCR Joint Spring Meeting in London.

In addition to my DPhil research, I significantly contributed to a side project examining the role of telomere length measurement in cardiovascular disease. I observed that blood telomere length is a predictor of post-procedural events following revascularisation, independently of age. In addition, there appears to be a tissue-specific variability in telomere length, likely reflecting the underling oxidative stress status of the tissue in question. For my work, I received – for the second time in my career – the Young Investigator Award at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in 2015. The jury panel included Prof Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize Laureate for her work on telomeres and telomerase – this was definitely both an intimidating and immensely rewarding experience!

Following my DPhil studies, I was awarded an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship in Cardiology at the University of Leicester/University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, where I am currently working as an Academic Clinical Fellowship Core Medical Trainee. In my new research project I am working with Dr David Adlam to investigate the pathophysiology of spontaneous coronary artery dissection and coronary artery ectasia – a rare disease characterised by an increase in the diameter of the coronary artery.