Atrial Fibrillation | UMCG | Collaborations
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Collaborations

We have ongoing collaborations with the following international consortia and research groups.

AFGen consortium

The AFGen or Atrial Fibrillation Genetics Consortium (www.afgen.org) consists of investigators from about 30 studies throughout the world. Our highly productive collaboration has led to the identification of multiple genetic loci for atrial fibrillation. Dr. M. Rienstra is an active and esteemed member of this consortium since his post-doc in 2010 at dr. P.T. Ellinors lab at the Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. Dr. Rienstra, dr. Geelhoed (biostatistician), together with the research group of prof. dr. P. Van der Harst participate in or lead virtually all genetic projects including genome-wide-association studies, mendelian randomization studies, gene-gene interaction studies, gene-environment interacting studies. We have every 2 weeks teleconferences to discuss ongoing projects with the group.

The Atrial Fibrillation NETwork (AFNET) is an interdisciplinary research network (www.kompetenznetz-vorhofflimmern.de) comprising scientists and physicians from hospitals and practices dedicated to improving the management of atrial fibrillation through coordinated research in Germany and Europe. Its main objective is to conduct high quality investigator-initiated clinical trials and registries on a national and international level. The AFNET association continues the long-term activities of the network, which has been funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education for over a decade. Prof.dr. Van Gelder participates in consensus conferences for many, and together with Dr. Rienstra they perform the studies initiated by AFNET in the University Medical Center Groningen.

AFNET network

Atrial Fibrillation Screen International collaboration

The Atrial Fibrillation Screen International collaboration consists of >100 key players in the field of atrial fibrillation from 28 countries. Both dr. Rienstra and prof.dr. Van Gelder contribute to the efforts of this collaboration (www.af-screen-intcollab.org). Aim is to promote discussion and research about screening for unknown or under-treated atrial fibrillation as a way to reduce stroke and death.

The Reappraisal of Atrial Fibrillation: Interaction between hyperCoagulability, Electrical remodeling, and Vascular Destabilisation in the Progression of atrial fibrillation (RACE V) is a network (https://race-v.org) of researchers from Groningen, Maastricht and Leiden, financially supported by the Netherlands Heart Foundation. In the RACE-V network, we will study the activity of coagulation factors within the atrial wall, and how these affect myocytes, fibroblasts and endothelial cells, leading to fibrosis and perpetuating atrial fibrillation. The preclinical work is led by prof.dr. U. Schotten, and the clinical work is led by prof.dr. I.C. Van Gelder. It consists of 8 work packages: 5 preclinical and 3 clinical work packages. The translation to patients will be implemented in a registry (led by prof.dr. Van Gelder, prof.dr. Crijns, and dr. Rienstra) of patients with early selfterminating atrial fibrillation. Using continuous rhythm monitoring combined with in-depth molecular-to-clinical phenotyping at the time of calamity (atrial fibrillation episode), outside the time of calamity (sinus rhythm) and at the scene of calamity (left atrium) including blood biomarkers of hypercoagulability, vascular disease, and fibrosis as well as electrocardiographic and imaging biomarkers, we will assess determinants of atrial fibrillation progression. In this way we aim to produce new diagnostic algorithms, electrical and biochemical biomarkers, and novel therapeutic modalities to prevent atrial fibrillation progression and its complications (see also Ongoing investigator-initiated research).

CVON – RACE V consortium

European Heart Rhythm Association research programme

For many years, we play an active role in the European Heart Rhythm Association (see also biosketch Van Gelder and Rienstra). We participate and have participated in diverse European registries and clinical studies on atrial fibrillation, atrial fibrillation ablation, atrial fibrillation hybrid ablation. The EURObservationals Research Programme (EORP) Atrial

Fibrillation Ablation Long-Term Registry and the Atrial Fibrillation General Pilot Registry are ongoing, as is the European Heart Rhythm Association Hybrid Arterial Fibrillation Ablation Registry (EHAFAR), and the Early Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation for Stroke Prevention Trial (EAST) study.

Over the last 6 years, dr. Rienstra established a highly productive collaboration with prof.dr. Emelia Benjamin, Boston University, Framingham, Ma, USA, studying the epidemiology of atrial fibrillation. Framingham Heart Study (www.framinghamheartstudy.org) collaboratory projects include association studies studying cardiovascular risk factors, symptomatology, biomarkers, and metabolomics and incident atrial fibrillation, and also associations of atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Findings in Framingham or in the Groningen PREVEND or Lifelines cohort are independently replicated. We have frequent teleconferences to discuss ongoing projects.

Framingham Heart Study – Atrial Fibrillation collaboration

Maastricht University Medical Center Cardiovascular Research Institue Maastricht (CARIM) – Atrial Fibrillation collaboration

The collaboration with prof.dr. Crijns and his atrial fibrillation research group has been extremely productive and inspiring, and exists >30 years. We work together on performing clinical trials on management of atrial fibrillation, the RACE I, II, III, IV and V trials which has led to numerous important publications and changes in atrial fibrillation guidelines.

Over the last 6 years, dr. Rienstra established a highly productive collaboration with dr. Patrick T. Ellinor and dr. Steve A. Lubitz, Cardiovascular Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA, studying the genetics of atrial fibrillation. See also AFGen collaboration. Medical students and PhD students have to opportunity to visit the Ellinor/Lubitz lab (www.ellinorlab.org) to learn more on population based genetic studies or experimental electrophysiology work. We have weekly teleconference meetings to discuss ongoing projects.

Massachusetts General Hospital – Atrial Fibrillation collaboration

McMaster University – Atrial Fibrillation collaboration

For several years prof.dr. Van Gelder established a highly productive collaboration with Dr. Jeff S. Healey, Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on large multicenter clinical trials in atrial fibrillation, as RE-LY and ASSERT studies and substudies.

The Reviving Early Diagnosis of CardioVascular Disease (RED-CVD) is a consortium of researchers from Utrecht, Groningen, Enschede, financially supported by the Netherlands Heart Foundation. RED-CVD will develop a new ‘early diagnosis strategy’ to improve the detection of coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and heart failure, and apply that strategy to participants of two existing primary care disease management programs; for type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The pro-active strategy will start with a set of items from history taking which will be compiled into a novel questionnaire that will be derived from Lifelines, a large population-based cohort, and enriched by input of experts. Then, in a cluster randomised diagnostic trial, RED-CVD compares the yield of this ‘early diagnosis strategy’ with usual care, in terms of detection of previously unrecognized CVD. The consortium is led by dr. F. Rutten, UMCU and prof.dr. R.A. de Boer, UMCG. Dr. Rienstra is Michiel is work package principal investigator, and is assigned by the consortium as young talent.

CVON – Reviving Early Diagnosis of CardioVascular Disease (RED-CVD)

AFIB.NO

National and international atrial fibrillation experts have joined forces in the Norwegian Atrial Fibrillation Research Network (afib.no) to increase and improve atrial fibrillation research in Norway. The network is set up to collaborate in order to acquire better understanding of the arrhythmia and its consequences, and contribute to improved and individualized care for the patients and subjects at risk. Furthermore, the network will disseminate qualified and up-to-date information on atrial fibrillation to the patients, the public, healthcare professionals and researchers. The network is led by professor Arnljot Tveit MD, PhD (PI) and Ingrid E. Christophersen MD, PhD (Co-PI) at the Department of Medical Research, Bærum Hospital, which is the core research group site in the network. Dr. Rienstra participates as international participant in the network.