MUDr. Karel Koubský, Ph.D., from the Children's Cardiocentre of the Second Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and Motol University Hospital received the Ervín Adam Award for excellent work of preventive importance for the health of the population. On 8 December it was handed to him by the dean Prof. Marek Babjuk.
The donor of the prizes, bearing the name of the husband and wife Ervín and Vlasta Adamovi, is Prof. Ervín Adam. The immunologist and virologist, who worked at the Faculty of Pediatrics (now the Second Faculty of Medicine) in the 1950's and 60's, and has lived in the United States since 1968, celebrated his hundredth birthday 7 November. In a conversation for the Second Faculty of Medicine, he talks, among other things, about the consistently high level of awarded works.
The second of the prizes, the Vlasta Adamová Award, will be awarded at the Scientific Council meeting on 19 January 2023.
Read a conversation with the awardee.
How are you and what are you doing these days?
These days I feel like I'm very short on time... I'm all the more happy that I managed to complete the "Čertovskej wintertrail" cross-country race in the combination of work load and pre-Christmas rush.
What kind of run is it?
It is a trail run, or running along paths and roads in nature, measuring thirty-three kilometers with an elevation gain of about one thousand two hundred meters.
What interests you in the field and what do you do?
As part of my clinical work at the Children's Cardiocentre, I am mainly focused on the heart transplants in children programme and the treatment of chronic heart failure. I also work in the post-operative intensive and resuscitation care unit. As for scientific work, I started at the Institute of Physiology with a focus on pulmonary hypertension, which is now also what I concentrate on in clinical medicine.
Can you tell us about the research you presented in the award-winning article Long-Term Survival and Freedom From Coronary Artery Reintervention After Arterial Switch Operation for Transposition of the Great Arteries: A Population-Based Nationwide Study?
The Children's Cardiocentre has got a database of all surgical and catheterization procedures that have been performed here since 1977. This database represents a unique source of data on a global scale, as it is nationwide, long-term data. In the Czech Republic, these procedures are only performed in the Children's Cardiocentre; many countries do not have anything similar. The award-winning work draws from this database, focuses on a specific congenital heart defect – transposition of the great arteries – and evaluates the long-term results after surgical correction of this defect using the currently used type of surgery. Our methodology made it possible to obtain data on subsequent reinterventions and survival of patients even during adulthood, as well as a comparison with the survival of the general population.
What do you think is the biggest difficulty that medical PhD students face during their studies?
During doctoral studies, it is often difficult to combine clinical medicine and scientific activity. Conditions at different clinical workplaces are not always clearly defined. Postgraduate studies can complicate the inclusion of practice in pre-certification preparation.
What do you think is the biggest benefit that you didn't know about when you applied for postgraduate studies?
This is related to the previous question. I think I was somewhat lucky that I completed my postgraduate studies in a non-clinical field - at the Institute of Physiology under the guidance of prof. Herget. I started experimental work there during my medical studies, and the doctoral studies followed after that. For a while I did only experimental work and started clinical medicine when I had already completed most of my PhD obligations. As the workload in clinical practice is considerable, in retrospect I see this turn of events as an advantage.
How did your vision of your career path change after you went from being a PhD student to a postdoc?
Already during my doctorate, I came to the decision that I wanted to focus primarily on clinical medicine and not the laboratory work I had started during medical school. I continue with scientific and publishing activities, but it is quite different. Unlike an experiment, where one can somewhat set baselines and measure outcomes, at least in our setting of pediatric cardiology, the greatest strength lies in the long-term collection of patient data, and thus in retrospective observational studies. With the decision to focus on the clinic came a change in perspective on the possibilities of scientific work.
What is your opinion on specialized education? Will you get certified?
I am already board certified in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology. In my opinion, the specialty requirements make sense in our field, to be included in pediatric cardiology, a doctor must be board certified in pediatrics - virtually everyone takes that route - or cardiology. An overview of general pediatrics is always useful, children with heart disease have a number of comorbidities. I cannot comment on other fields from my own experience.
What awaits you in the near future?
A peaceful Christmas with my family, I hope!