UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science


Alexandros Protonotarios

PhD Project Title: The role of inflammation in Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy

Picture of Alexandros Protonotarios

Supervisors: Professor Perry M. Elliott and Dr Petros Syrris

Lay summary:

Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy (AC) is a heart muscle disease and is responsible for many sudden deaths in young people. The condition is often inherited, but the way in which it damages the heart muscle is poorly understood. Our body has specialized systems to protect against invading microorganisms through a process called inflammation. This is facilitated by specialised immune cells that circulate in our blood and move from organ to organ to perform their actions. In some diseases, the immune system turns against human tissues in a process called auto-immunity. 
It is known that patients with AC have inflammation in the heart muscle and in a pilot study of patients with AC we have identified a high number of immune cells that are destined to target heart tissue. In this project, we will characterise immune system activation and its significance with respect to disease progression and adverse events using systematic clinical characterisation, cardiac imaging, evaluation of immune activation and microscopic examination of heart tissue. Greater understanding of the immune system in AC has the potential to improve diagnosis and to facilitate the development of new drug treatments.

My Background 

I grew up on a small island of Greece, known for its natural beauty but also for rare forms of cardiomyopathy. From my early life, I have been exposed to sudden deaths of young individuals in the community and the high impact of an inherited cardiac disease for society, families and individuals. This experience provided added impetus to my decision to pursue a career in medicine with particular interest in research in cardiac diseases that affect the young. I have studied medicine at the University of Crete, in Greece, and during that time I was involved in the Greek Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy research team and various clinical research projects.
After graduation, I trained in internal medicine in Greece for one year and then continued in the UK as a foundation year 1 and year 2 doctor. Having experienced first-hand, the challenges with the conventional management of patients it became apparent to me that understanding the mechanisms which lead to disease and their reversal by targeted therapy must be my future focus. I have been awarded an ESC Research grant which supported me to initiate my research at the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science and the Barts Heart Centre under Professor Elliott. 


Ptychion Iatrikes (MBBS equivalent) - University of Crete, Faculty of Medicine


  • 2018    Awarded a “Clinical Research Training Fellowship” from the British Heart Foundation for a 3-year support of my doctoral research studies on the “Role of inflammation in Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy”, under the supervision of Professor Perry Elliott at the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science, and Professor Federica Marelli-Berg at the William Harvey Research Institute, QMUL.
  • 2017    Awarded the “ESC Research Grant” of the European Society of Cardiology to hold a one-year fellowship UCL institute of cardiovascular science to commence clinical research in Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy, under the supervision of Professor Perry Elliott.
  • 2016    Awarded the “ESC Congress Educational Grant” of the European Society of Cardiology to participate in the ESC Congress 2016.
  • 2014    Awarded the State Scholarships Foundation’s prize and scholarship for highest academic performance during the 5th undergraduate academic year (2011-2012). 

Clinical Research Fellow, UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science and Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Unit, Barts Heart Centre

Contact details 

Email: alexanderproton@gmail.com
Twitter: @ProtonotariosA