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Mechanistic Integration of vascular aND endocrine pathways for Subtyping Hypertension: an Innovative network approach for Future generation research Training

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MINDSHIFT (Mechanistic Integration of vascular aND endocrine pathways for Subtyping Hypertension: an Innovative network approach for Future generation research Training)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-12-31

Hypertension is the key determinant of cardiovascular disease and the No.1 ‘silent killer’ worldwide. Despite progress in understanding the causes of hypertension and improvements in clinical management, >85 million people in Europe suffer from cardiovascular disease, costing the EU €210 billion/year. Currently, there is a crucial gap in understanding the dynamic interactions between vascular and endocrine pathways in hypertension. Such knowledge would facilitate redefinition of hypertension subtypes to improve current prevention and treatment. MINDSHIFT will offer a top-level interdisciplinary research programme to bridge this gap, using an integrative framework approach fed by new data and insights from cutting-edge experimental and clinical studies. To enable this advance, MINDSHIFT will implement and run an innovative EJD-programme, combining first-class scientific research with in-depth professional and transferable competence-skills trainings. ESRs will develop the integrative and entrepreneurial capacities that hypertension research demands by nature. Above and beyond, the programme will challenge the ESRs to build their capacity for self-directed learning, career development and personal-professional leadership. The highly capable academic and non-academic partners in MINDSHIFT have co-designed an extraordinary high-quality programme of research projects and network-wide training elements, to achieve the required and sustainable impacts on the ESR careers, scientific results and ITN-wide learning and innovation. Based on the excellent synergies and shared commitments, the MINDSHIFT consortium seeks to establish a European School for Hypertension Research, to propel future health science and industry towards more effective prevention of and cure for this silent killer.
The overall aim of MINDSHIFT is to improve vascular health management by Subtyping Hypertension, based on the network dynamics between Vascular and Endocrine systems.

The approach within MINDSHIFT-ITN has the following coherent structural elements and actions, to achieve overall objectives.
- Vascular and endocrine research have about a 50-50% balanced contribution,
- Joint/Double doctorates and related secondments are set-up as to facilitate (new) collaboration across the vascular and endocrine research fields.
- Online and physical MINDSHIFT (general) meetings of our ITN, to facilitate creative interactions between project teams.
- The professional training track of the ESRs has in parallel a supervisors’ track (see below 'Beyond state...')
- MINDSHIFT is particularly dedicated to creating a framework for mechanistic integration of knowledge, mobilising the collaborative and collective creative capacity of all project teams.

Work Package 1 & 2 - Vascular & Endocrine Pathways
WP1 investigates the mechanisms of vascular damage in hypertension in humans and model organisms.
WP2 investigates the mechanisms underlying increased aldosterone production, its effects on the renal microcirculation, establish clinical protocols for better diagnosis of primary aldosteronism, and study influences of perivascular adipose tissue and protein oxidation on vascular function.
All ESRs have successfully started. First experiments have been successfully conducted and preliminary results towards the Deliverables are available.
All ESRs have been working with their supervisors in both MINDSHIFT institutions as per JD/DD-agreement.

Work Package 3 - Complementary Training
The objectives of WP3 are to provide complementary training: in scientific methodologies and platforms; on transferable skills; for self-directed learning and self-leadership; for shaping of tomorrow’s (hypertension) research community.
The Training Committee has implemented, coordinated, and monitored progression through the following elements:
- Basic courses B1-B6 were delivered online January to April 2022;
- The ESR Development Track is the backbone for self-development, managing the complexities of research in a network, career development;
- Secondments have now all been planned for each ESR, with some of them delivered, others ongoing and upcoming.
- Advanced Course coordination is taking place for the second reporting period;
- ESRs will accumulate over time a differentiated competence & skills ESR-FOLIO.

Work Package 4 - Selection & Management
The objectives of WP4 are to: install and facilitate recruitment and selection of ESRs for the EU Joint Doctorate positions in MINDSHIFT; coordinate the training and research programme, including risk and contingency management, with specific focus on establishing a European School for Hypertension Research.
The Consortium Agreement, Recruitment Procedure, Supervisory Board were established in Jan-Feb 2021.
The JD/DD-agreements are all in place (Feb 2023).
The MINDSHIFT kick-off meeting was online on 9 and 10 December 2021 (due to COVID), and created a cornerstone for the development of MINDSHIFT as research network/community.
On 31 January 2022, a first year progress report was submitted.

Work Package 5 - Dissemination & Professional Ethics
Early dissemination and outreach via events: ECCR2022, 46. Deutscher Hypertonie Kongress, ESH2023, World Hypertension Day 2022.
MINDSHIFT is the first comprehensive European research training network bringing together the vascular and endocrine fields within Hypertension.
The programme and consortium are particularly dedicated to create and exploit an integrative mechanistic framework for understanding existing and new data, by network-wide collaboration.

A key organisational innovation is the personal-professional ESR Development Track with a mirrored opt-in track for all supervisors.
Accordingly, our ITN facilitates new organisational learning on:
• The mentor-mentee relationship and its developmental stages towards self-motivation and initiative,
• The inter-dependent relationships between academic institutes, and between academia and industry,
• Building a sustainable research network.
On 3-7 April 2022, “The ITN-in-Practice Conference” was held in Renesse (NL). Important outcomes were result of sharing the challenging existing differences: clarity about (1) committee participation of ESRs, (2) interest in being Accredited for “Partnership Working in Science”, (3) agreement to participative research around the ESR-Supervisor relationship, and (4) opt-in Action Learning for supervisors.
On 25-26 June 2022, in Glasgow a 1-day ESR Development workshop was held, with Action Learning, sessions and tasters on: time- and stress-management, influence and communication, the ESR Committee's role.
On 8 December 2022 a Lecture and workshop on ‘Challenging Conversations’ was delivered by partner RC.

The integrative research approach as well as the social research on the network and its development as a learning organisation make MINDSHIFT an truly innovative training network, which is likely to yield recommendations for future MSCA-DN programme calls, as well as feed into the current European Doctorate ambitions:
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