Third-year medicine student Alyssa Basdavanos was the first author on an article published in the March 2023 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology. The article, titled “Prevalence of Orthopedic Manifestations in Patients with Cardiac Amyloidosis With a Focus on Shoulder Pathologies,” was coauthored with colleagues from the Cleveland Clinic and Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Basdavanos shared her reflections on the research and resulting publication.
How did you come to be involved in this research project?
My father has wild-type transthyretin cardiac amyloidosis. Before coming to NEOMED, I had attended several Amyloidosis Support group meetings where the world’s physician leaders on amyloidosis would gather on a panel to provide information on the disease and answer patients’ questions. At the time of these conferences, there were no clinical trials or cures for my father’s type of amyloidosis. I remember being incredibly impressed with the passion and knowledge each doctor had about amyloidosis. I remember saying to myself before coming to medical school, “I really want to work with one of these doctors one day.” When I came to NEOMED, I knew that the Cleveland Clinic had one of the biggest amyloidosis clinics in the country because I remembered one of the panelists, Dr. Mazen Hanna, from the support group meetings. I was fortunate enough to connect with him for a summer research project between my M1 and M2 year. Dr. Hanna was an inspiration to me because he was a key pioneer in the amyloidosis field who researched many orthopedic manifestations related to cardiac amyloidosis. This was important to me because my father presented with many orthopedic manifestations before being diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis. With this interest in mind, we chose to expand the literature on the orthopedic manifestations that we had noticed in amyloidosis patients.
What was your role in the project?
Dr. Hanna was an incredible mentor who gave me a lot of autonomy with this project while providing key guidance and support. I wrote the proposal, conducted the chart review of over 1,300 patients with the help of an amazing research nurse, performed the statistical analysis, created all figures and tables, and wrote and edited the paper. We also submitted some of our findings in an abstract to the International Symposium on Amyloidosis in Heidelberg, Germany, and we were accepted for an oral presentation. Giving an oral presentation on the intersection of cardiac amyloidosis and orthopedics was an incredible experience for me because, after the talk, many physicians came up to me saying that our findings would change how they practiced. I was very proud that I could make even a small impact on a field that I am passionate about.
What are some key findings?
- There is an association between orthopedic pathologies and cardiac amyloidosis
- Shoulder pathologies and orthopedic pathologies are prevalent among transthyretin cardiac amyloidosis patients
- The research suggests that select patients may potentially be screened for amyloidosis at the time of surgery using tissue biopsy to identify and diagnose patients earlier
If you have other reflections on the experience – with the research itself, the publication process or both – please share.
I am lucky that I was able to contribute to a field of research that affects my own family. Amyloidosis research has gained a lot of momentum in the past few years. Because of the physician-scientists community’s commitment, my father is on a clinical trial for his type of amyloidosis. This experience helped me to grow as a future physician-scientist, and I know that research will be an important part of my career wherever I end up! I am incredibly grateful for the mentors I had on this project, including Dr. Hanna and Lauren Ives (Cleveland Clinic, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine), Dr. Mathew Maurer (Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Division of Cardiology), Dr. Katherine Derwin (CCF, Department of Biomedical Engineering), and Dr. Eric Ricchetti and Dr. William Seitz (CCF, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery).