EAS President’s Review of the Year 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, I’d like to take a moment to reflect upon the past year, my first as EAS president. At a time when so many people around the world have lost so much and countless others continue to face untold hardships and uncertainty, the activities of our society have been a shining beacon of light in a period of darkness. Science, community, and wider social cohesion will help us get through this period together. 

new EAS executive committee took over this year and set about the task of adapting to the new environment, not only to survive but thrive and emerge stronger. The 2021 EAS congress in Helsinki was a virtual meeting delivered through a new virtual platform, with 2,399 paid registrants, a remarkable testament to the caliber of science and the standing of our society. Beyond the conference, our new EAS Digital (educational platform) provided on-demand legacy sessions from the congress for a further three months, ensuring people did not miss out.

Educational activities continued apace with our Certificate of Excellence in Lipidology attracting 750 registrants. Three virtual Rare Lipid Disorder courses took place from Copenhagen, Lisbon, and Vienna, together attracting 292 attendees. The new-look Educational Committee saw Professor Philippe Moulin and Professor Stefano Romeo join the existing Committee members to put together a programme of 7 one hour webinars drawing approximately 1,400 registrants and covering a range of diverse topics from Fatty Liver and Atherosclerosis, Women and CVD as well as Genetics and Lipoprotein(a), to name but a few (full details »). A further series of 11 accredited webinars under the theme of “Improving the Cardiovascular Health of the Population – everything the modern clinician needs to know” brought the EAS closer to scientists and physicians in the LATAM and MENA regions, reaching new audiences.

We have seen an expansion and growth of our membership base under the stewardship of Prof Alberto Zambon, with 4 new National Societies joining as partner societies (Finnish Atherosclerosis Society, Estonian Society of Cardiology, Georgian Atherosclerosis Association, Portuguese Atherosclerosis Society) one regional society, the Asian Pacific Society of Atherosclerosis and Vascular Diseases, as well as 9 societies re-joining (Italian Society for the Study of Atherosclerosis, Atherosclerosis Society of Northern Greece, Czech Society for Atherosclerosis, Hellenic Atherosclerosis Society, The Iraqi Lipid Clinics Network, Korean Society of Lipid and Atherosclerosis, Scandinavian Society of Atherosclerosis and Spanish Society of Arteriosclerosis, Ukrainian Atherosclerosis Society). These collaborations bring exciting opportunities for collaboration, sharing knowledge and best practice, and improving the care of patients worldwide. The EAS participated in joint sessions with many of our national society partners, including for the first time the Lipid Association of India. These activities will increase further in 2022.

The EAS had, to date, been relatively quiet on social media. That changed in 2021 under the guidance of Prof Jeanine Roeters van Lennep and our amazing team of social media ambassadors. This development saw greater dissemination of the work of our members and our society, as well as published work from our Journal Atherosclerosis bringing lively discussions and new opportunities for networking.   

In 2021 our main society journal Atherosclerosis achieved an IP of > 5 and a new open-access journal Atherosclerosis-Plus was born with Prof Laura Calabresi as the Editor-in-chief, providing even greater opportunities to disseminate the work of our members. Three consensus papers were published in 2021; including one in partnership with the European Society of Vascular Medicine on peripheral arterial disease.  Three more consensus papers are well advanced and are expected to be published throughout 2022; these will provide state of the art guidance on Lipoprotein (a), Homozygous FH, and Risk Estimation and become the “go-to” articles and benchmark for the global community.

We saw the first class of Young Fellows of the EAS emerge in 2021 after a two-year program of mentoring aimed at nurturing the future leaders in our field and our Society. Next year a fresh group will have the opportunity to enter the program, with nominations opening soon. Our annual congress in May, next year in Milan, will offer us the much-needed opportunity to further educate and support the next generation, with sessions at the Congress run by Young Fellows of EAS. Attendance is supported by our ongoing Young Investigator Fellowships. 

The emergence of the Lipid Clinic Network initiative, under the guidance of Prof Alberico Catapano, saw the establishment of a network of 200 clinics across 29 countries. In 2021 the focus was on the establishment of the network, education, standardizing, and harmonizing practice for diagnosis & treatment of lipid disorders and atherosclerosis. In 2022, this work will expand further with surveys, data generation, and implementation projects across diverse regions and healthcare settings. This will offer a unique opportunity for our members to get more involved with society in new ways.

The EAS-FH Studies Collaboration (FHSC), which I initiated in 2015, provided its biggest impact to date in September, with its Lancet publication on the global status of FH. Several more publications will follow in 2022, continuing to provide unparalleled insights into FH globally from its 68 countries, 68,000 cases.  The data from the Lancet have been disseminated extensively, both to scientific and lay communities in partnership with the patient organisation FH Europe, culminating in a meeting at the EU level (in part using these data) to advocate for universal screening for FH and other inherited lipid disorders. Clear evidence of the global impact of the EAS as a force for change helping shape the clinical, research, and policy landscape. The FHSC now collaborates with the World Heart Federation task force on FH and is helping to inform the WHF 2022 Cholesterol Road Map.  The FHSC coordinating center developed the online directory of lipid clinics as a resource for patients and clinicians providing an invaluable service for the global community.

The breadth and increasing number of EAS activities require the support of a dedicated and hard-working EAS Office. We are fortunate that we have such a team, in a newly re-organized and expanded office structure, with named responsible officers partnering with the named Executive or Adjunct Executive Committee Member to seamlessly drive specific projects. This expansion of the office team and overall day-to-day oversight is now overseen by a new Officer Manager, Karolina Andersson.

I would like to acknowledge the continued support of Society activities by our industry partners, in grants and partnership. The success of our activities has created fiscal stability, which will allow us to invest in new initiatives in 2022 to support young researchers and partner societies in Central and Eastern Europe as well as a range of activities in Africa and the Middle East. These place the EAS not only at the forefront of science and education but expand our corporate social footprint. I would like to thank the Society’s current Executive Committee for their hard work and dedication, and in particular, thank Prof Paolo Parini who is leaving us as Treasurer after 4 years of service. His counsel, oversight, and careful management have contributed enormously to the strength and stability of our society. 

Finally, during these difficult times, I wish you all good health, happiness, and scientific success in 2022 and beyond. I invite you to engage with the society, its many activities and importantly I look forward to seeing you face-to-face again in Milan at our annual congress.