Published on 5 October 2018
Héctor Valdivia

Winner of the 2018 Tocqueville-Fulbright Chair and welcomed to the Laboratory of Signaling and Cardiovascular Physiopathology at the Faculty of Pharmacy for a semester, Professor Héctor Valdivia will give an inaugural lecture on the 16th of October 2018 on the therapeutic value of scorpion toxins in the prevention of rhythm disorders dependent on calcium.

Arrived last June from the University of Wisconsin to the Laboratory of Signaling and Cardiovascular Physiopathology at the Faculty of Pharmacy for the six-month term of Tocqueville-Fulbright ChairPr. Héctor Valdivia will give an inaugural lecture in English titled "That which does not kill us makes us stronger: the hidden salutary effect of scorpion toxins" on October th 16th. It will take place in room EH 25/27 of the Faculty of Pharmacy (Châtenay-Malabry) and will address the therapeutic interest of a new family of scorpion toxins - valuable tools for the isolation and characterization of the ion channels of the heart, skeletal muscle and the nervous system - in the prevention of calcium-dependent rhythm disorders. Discovered by Professor Valdivia and his team, this new family of scorpion peptides, called "calcines", opens the receptors of the sarcoplasmic reticulum ryanodine with a high affinity, inducing a partial release of calcium in the cardiac cells. When administered to animals carrying a ryanodine receptor mutation responsible for ventricular arrhythmias, the calcins prevent these arrhythmias. Mr. Roujou de Boubée, Director of the Franco-American Commission, will present the Tocqueville-Fulbright Chair. Prof. Étienne Augé, Vice President Research & Innovation at Paris-Sud University, and Professor Marc Pallardy, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, will introduce the lesson.

Winner 2018 of the Tocqueville-Fulbright Chair, which aims to strengthen collaborative projects between France and the United States, Professor Validivia was welcomed in the Laboratory of Signaling and Cardiovascular Physiopathology (Inserm / UPSud) led by Dr. Ana Maria Goméz to pursue the project entitled "Calcium-dependent arrhythmias and the role of ryanodine receptors in physiology and heart disease". This project specifically addressed the mechanisms underlying calcium-dependent arrhythmias in view of the many roles played by calcium ions in the normal and pathological states of the heart. The multidisciplinary work done by Professor Validivia has been an excellent pretext for looking at different models and mechanisms. Between June and July 2018, Héctor Valdivia also gave thirty lectures and practical courses to master's and doctoral students Mixing theoretical and practical approach, the courses dealt with general and fundamental aspects of cardiac function, such as the genesis of electrical impulses, the conversion of electrical signals into mechanical contractions and the production of mechanical force.

Director of the University of Wisconsin, Héctor Valdivia is also co-director of the Center for Arrhythmia Research at the University of Michigan. After a Ph.D., obtained in 1990 at UNAM and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, on the purification and characterization of scorpion toxins whose effects block the potassium channels, he joined in 1994 the University of Wisconsin where he developed a renowned program in cardiovascular physiology and pharmacology. He then focused his research on intracellular calcium homeostasis and calcium channels, as well as the mechanisms that lead to calcium-dependent arrhythmias. The excellence of his methods and his multidisciplinary approach (molecular, cellular and intact animals) have made him an expert of international renown in his field. His research has been cited more than 7 000 times.

Created in 2005 by the Franco-American Commission for Academic and Cultural Exchange, the purpose of the Tocqueville-Fulbright Chair is to provide a wide audience with information on the latest research methods and developments in the field of research in the United States, and to exchange and disseminate knowledge between the two nations. Since its creation, twenty renowned American academics have come to share their methods and knowledge in fifteen French universities for one semester. Many and various projects were supported: international law, American civilization, geopolitics, phytopathology, virology, public health management, comparative constitutional law ... All areas were highlighted.

See the poster of the event.