Interview with Prof. Jose Luis Merino – EHRA President

Can you provide us with an overview of your background and experience, as well as your current responsibilities as the EHRA president? How has your role evolved over time?

I started in EHRA in 2003 when the Association was firstly created. My initial task was to developed a professional certification system as chair of the Certification Committee which has successfully evolved to the current EHRA one. After this, I have been involved in several positions (EHRA White Book coordinator, Chair of the  Training Fellowship Committee, Chair of the Education Committee, EHRA Congress Scientific Committee Member, EHRA secretary, etc). Currently, as EHRA president, I have to work together with the EHRA board and committee chairs to keep what have been achieved along these years, move the association forward and initiate new projects aligned with EHRA mission and objectives.


Could you elaborate on the mission and objectives of EHRA (European Heart Rhythm Association) and its involvement in various European projects? How does EHRA contribute to EHRA-PATHS project?

The EHRA contributes to the mission of the ESC which is “to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease” but focused in heart rhythm disorders. This mission is accomplished by providing professional training and education, promoting research and supporting professional aspects and advocacy. EHRA is the coordinator partner of the EHRA-PATHS consortium and supports the project with its structure and activities, such as dedicated sessions and meetings during the EHRA congress, among others.


Regarding your involvement in EHRA-PATHS, what specific tasks or responsibilities do you undertake within this project?

Currently I am part of the Steering Committee of the project and national coordinator in Spain for the WP5 clinical trial. I have also played an active role in other WPs of the project and would surely join the management team soon.


In your experience with EHRA-PATHS, what are some of the significant challenges you face in your work? How do you address these challenges and ensure successful outcomes for the project? Can you share any specific examples?

As with other trials you often find barriers to comply with all project legal requirements in a timely manner. Having a proactive and enthusiastic attitude has helped us to overcome part of these challenges. To give you an example, despite that our centre in Madrid is just the national coordinator in our country and will not enroll patients, we decided to have the WP5 trial evaluated and approved in our centre by translating many of the required documents into Spanish with the help of some online tools. This will help to achieve an early acceptance and adoption of the trial by the Ethic Committees of the other centres in Spain.


Lastly, could you provide insights into the potential impact of EHRA-PATHS on addressing multimorbidity in elderly atrial fibrillation patients? How does this project align with EHRA’s broader goals and objectives?

The vast majority of atrial fibrillation patient are older than 65 years. This means that many of them have other diseases which are often sub optimally managed or left aside until the rhythm problem is controlled. The EHRA-PATHS project is developing a software tools which will provide an holistic approach to the management of these patients and which, hopefully, will result in better outcomes. This is certainly fully aligned with EHRA mission of improving and reducing the burden of heart rhythm problems in the population.


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