I left Germany for Valencia in late August 2020.With my whole life packed on my 1997 Honda Transalp, I went on a 5-day journey passing through central and southern France, as well as Catalonia. As I was passing stunning natural views, corona cases surged in the regions that I had just left behind (I promise it was not my fault). I made sure to stay away from large cities and slept on campsites the entire trip: Balm for the soul and a great way to arrive with a crystal-clear mind. I am a firm believer that truly arriving in a place requires one to arrive slowly, and I believe that I have done exactly that. There is nothing like watching weather, nature, architecture, and culture change when traveling towards a new adventure.
Benvinguts a Valencia! Oh boy, did you miss out by not coming here. My colleagues in the PersonalizeAF project have not been able to visit us on our first meeting and summer school, and participated online instead- what a shame. Within the consortium Valencia is the city with the most sunshine hours, the region with the most oranges produced per year, the warmest seawater, and arguably the place with the best food (ESRs: Present your contending dishes in your upcoming posts!). If you think that the photo on the left is not representative of Valencian cuisine, then you are right. It is photogenic though. 😉
The first days in the lab were confusing. It is a large open office, which is usually home to approximately 25 researchers… I assume. Most of my colleagues have worked at home most of the time. Even though the laboratory is mostly empty, it has its advantages. It is less than 800m from the beach. Want to have lunch while looking at the sea? You have come to the right place. I have never actually done that, but you could if you wanted to. I will try, and let you know in my next blog post.
I have spent the first weeks getting acquainted with the topics at hand, and Andreu, my supervisor, has been tremendously helpful. I embrace working with people who are highly motivated and enthusiastic about their work, and this is exactly what I have found. The goal of PersonalizeAF is essentially a revolution of today’s management of atrial fibrillation patients, which, quite frankly, is somewhat intimidating, but a challenge I will happily accept.
My research will focus on the stratification of AF patients into subphenotypes, and evaluate the impact of different therpaies, in order to enable precise treatment recommendations. For the time being, however, my first order of business is introducing my colleagues to the world of artificial intelligence, the explainability of deep neural networks, different types of reasoning, as well as generating usable data from existing databases. Schedules are filled to the brim with meetings, classes, bureaucratic processes, and research activities, but we are making great progress. On the left, you will see a mathematical model of human atria- one of the many things that I will analyze in the next three years. I will be happy to tell you more about this in my next blog post. Stay tuned for an insight into AI, cardiology, and an introduction to my research topic! 🙂
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