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Christine Rootwelt-Norberg receives Young Investigator Award

Doctoral Research Fellow Christine Rootwelt-Norberg aims to become a leading professional in genetic cardiology. She recently received an award for her presentation at the EuroEcho conference.

Image of Haugaa and Rootwelt-Norberg

Associate Professor Kristina Haugaa (left) and Doctoral Research Fellow Christine Rootwelt-Norberg (right) after she received the award. Image: Maria Ruud, ProCardio.

EuroEcho is an annual conference in cardiology organised by the European Society of Cardiology. Each year, the Young Investigator Award is given to a young researcher who participates at the conference. In December 2021, Rootwelt-Norberg received the award for her presentation of the study "Disease progression rate is a strong predictor of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with cardiac laminopathies - a primary prevention cohort study".

The study has provided knowledge that can help clinicians predict when a patient with heart disease has an increased risk of developing life-threatening heart rhythm disorders. This knowledge will make it easier to assess whether and when the patient should have a defibrillator implanted. Rootwelt-Norberg was first author of the study.

– It is a great honour to win such a prestigious award. It is a recognition that our research is of high quality and that our message is important. In addition, this is a recognition of my communication skills, Rootwelt-Norberg says.

The findings may help clinicians predict life-threatening heart rhythm disorders

The study looked into the genetic heart muscle disease Lamin A/C. Lamin A/C is a congenital heart disease in which patients have a high risk of developing life-threatening heart rhythm disorders.

– Our study described the usefulness of frequent echocardiographic examinations to identify when patients enter what is called a high-arrhythmic disease phase. This means that the heart rhythm is disturbed to the extent that the risk of sudden cardiac death increases, Rootwelt-Norberg explains, and adds:

– We demonstrated that the rate of disease progression, i.e. how fast the heart function decreased, was a strong predictor of subsequent life-threatening heart rhythm disorders.

Will make it easier to assess when patients should receive an implantable defibrillator

Lamin A/C is one of the most malignant of the genetic heart diseases, and treatment with an implantable defibrillator could be lifesaving.

– However, due to the high risk of complications, and the limited lifespan of an implantable defibrillator, we must carefully assess at what point in time a patient should receive an implant. In clinical practice, it has proven to be very difficult to predict the correct time for implantation, she says.

The study provides new information on how clinicians should assess the risk of sudden cardiac death and the need for an implant.

– Our research will thus to a large extent make it easier to assess when a patient should receive an implant, Rootwelt-Norberg concludes.

Screen shot from Rootwelt-Norbergs presentation
Christine Rootwelt-Norberg presented the study at the EuroEcho conference. Image: Private.

Rootwelt-Norberg has excelled as a good communicator

The young researcher really opened her eyes to research when she was on clinical rotation at the Department of Cardiology at Oslo University Hospital (OUS) Rikshospitalet during her medical studies at UiO.

– Genetic cardiology is a field that has undergone enormous development in recent years, but there are still many unanswered questions. It is very rewarding to contribute to the expansion of the knowledge base in the field, she says.

She works as a medical doctor at OUS Rikshospitalet and as a doctoral research fellow at the Institute of Clinical Medicine. She is also affiliated with the ProCardio Centre for Innovation at the Department of Cardiology.

Kristina Haugaa was Rootwelt-Norberg's supervisor during her clinical rotation and is her main supervisor for her PhD. Haugaa is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Clinical Medicine. She also works as a chief physician and cardiologist, and she is the centre manager of the ProCardio Centre for Innovation. According to her, the award means a lot to the research groups at the Institute and the hospital.

– Christine Rootwelt-Norberg's abstract was ranked as one of the four best abstracts at what is the world's largest conference in the field. Over 3,100 researchers from as many as 92 countries participated. This ranking led her to the finals along with three other finalists. The oral presentation of each finalist was assessed on content, quality of the presentation and the candidates' answers to questions, Haugaa says, and adds:

– Rootwelt-Norberg has also previously excelled as a very good communicator in addition to being a skilled researcher.

Screen shot where it shows that Rootwelt-Norberg won
Christine Rootwelt-Norberg won the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science. Image: Private.


Tags: Cardiology, genetic cardiology, Christine Rootwelt-Norberg, Kristina Haugaa By Elin Martine Doeland
Published Feb. 2, 2022 11:38 AM - Last modified Feb. 2, 2022 11:38 AM