Memorial Adriana Gittenberger-de Groot
Robert E. Poelmann: In memory of Adriana Gittenberger-de Groot
Adriana’s career, spanning about half a century (1971-2020†), started with a project on the ductus arteriosus, a right-left shunt between the pulmonary and systemic circulations, that normally closes at the onset of breathing shortly after birth. In case of specific cardiac malformations, the doctor wants to keep it open longer preparing for surgery. In other circumstances it may persist, needing operative closure. She studied the mechanisms of ductus differentiation providing clues to the clinicians about proper (pharmaceutical) treatment, thereby saving many early lives.
Her primary interest was the combination of basic research, ranging from histology to molecular genetics and imaging, serving clinically relevant problems, including congenital cardiac malformations. Furthermore, her interest encompassed not only the ductus but also other vascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis and aortic aneurysms. This resulted in many book chapters and >330 papers. As recognition she received several awards and was invited to present “Named Lectures” at meetings of e.g. the ESC and AEPC. Adriana was a fervent supporter of the Weinstein meetings. As an example she served as a chairperson in the first one in Rochester (1995), hosted the tenth meeting of that name for the first time outside the USA in Leiden (2004) and moderated the Memorial Lecture, presented by Roger Markwald in Nara, Japan (2018), meanwhile attending many meetings in between. In Nara, she showed her continued occupation with the ductus arteriosus, presenting a lecture on Neural Crest and Second Heart Field to Ductus Arteriosus and Pulmonary Arteries: Clinical Implications, still showing her eagerness to combine embryologic research elucidating clinical problems.
In my contribution I will also highlight Evo-Devo aspects of the heart introducing crocodilians as animal model to understand septation of the outflow tract.