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The health experts, the patients and the story of the innovative conversation cafe in Glasgow

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Daria Popovicheva

AT the beginning of this academic year I was incredibly lucky to start a British Heart Foundation (BHF) sponsored 4-year PhD studentship at the University of Glasgow.

It is one of the most exciting opportunities of my career so far – to work at the BHF Centre of Research Excellence in Vascular Science and Medicine alongside leading scientists who are conducting ground-breaking research aimed at conquering heart disease.

I was also extremely grateful and humbled by the generosity of the BHF and the donations they receive from the general public which allow me and my colleagues to pursue advancements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

Importantly, for me as a pharmacist and my colleagues at the Institute, patients and the difference that can be made to their lives are at the heart of everything we do (excuse the pun). So when an opportunity to help at a series of events called ‘Café with Heart’, organised by Professor Mandy Maclean and supported by head of the institute Prof Rhian Touyz, came along, I couldn’t have been happier to take part.

Cafe with Heart is a series of informal discussions about heart and vascular diseases run at Byres Road Waterstones book shop in Glasgow’s West End. These events are aimed at members of the public who would like to find out more about these diseases and current research within the field. It’s an excellent platform for patients and their friends and families to gain further knowledge and insight into disease that, directly or indirectly, affect nearly all of us.



Today, there is so much information readily available at the touch of a button waiting to be discovered, but it can be an overwhelming amount with much misleading and conflicting data out there. Café with Heart offers an opportunity for patients to ask an expert in their field burning questions they may have about a topic. For example, at the next event called ‘Diabetes – and how to survive it’ on the February 22, Prof John Petrie will be addressing the following questions: What causes diabetes? What are the different types? Who is at risk? Can diabetes be prevented? Can it be cured? What are the best treatments and monitoring tools? What is on the horizon?

The answers are complex and the research is ongoing. I am sure that every pharmacist and general physician would love to have this type of discussion with their patients, I know I certainly would. But our busy schedules and patients’ busy lifestyles do not always allow us to do so, especially over coffee on a Wednesday night. However, this inspirational series of events do exactly that. It’s an open and honest conversation about things that matter to both patients and researchers – health.

I embarked on a career in research because I feel I can make a difference to my patients through science, but I strongly believe that empowering patients with information and knowledge is one of the most important issues researches and healthcare professionals face. Professor Maclean has been doing so for over ten years and I’ve been inspired by her passion and commitment to the cause – and I hope others can be too.

Daria Popovicheva is a pharmacist and a PhD student at the University of Glasgow

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