Conditions for research work could be better
Rok Ješe, MD, a rheumatologist from the Department of Rheumatology of the University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Slovenia, assesses his and his team’s placement in the finals of this year's IMA as a confirmation of the quality of his research work so far and a personal incentive for further research work.
As a person who combines his clinical work with research, he believes that the conditions for research work in Slovenia are not the best, but as he says, certainly not the worst.
Apart from the lack of funds that could be invested in research, the limiting factor is also the fact that, at least in the clinical sciences, there is no planned time devoted primarily or solely to research work; most of the research work takes place in our free time – in the afternoons, evenings and free weekends,
he explains, adding that for him excellent and coordinated cooperation within the research team is of key importance.
Through the study which placed him among the IMA finalists, Dr. Ješe and his team sought to facilitate, simplify and accelerate the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis in incipient patients.
We aimed to determine by ultrasonography the cut-off values for vascular wall thickness of seven preselected arteries, which would help distinguish between the inflamed and the normal vascular wall. This was the first study to include a large group of patients (more than 200) and to determine the cut-off values for vascular wall thickness on seven different arteries which are known to be involved in giant cell arteritis and are accessible to ultrasonography. Similar studies performed to date included a smaller number of patients (up to 40), did not cover as many affected arteries, and did not include a representative control group. Consequently, we expect that the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis will now be easier. The saying “time is eyesight” applies to this disease, as one of the main complications of the disease is permanent blindness. With the work method we used in the study we managed to reduce the proportion of blind patients with newly diagnosed giant cell arteritis from a good 30 to less than 10 percent.
He estimates that the development of rheumatology in the last ten years is astonishing, as the diagnosis of inflammatory rheumatic diseases has significantly accelerated and the therapeutic possibilities have expanded enormously.
Dr. Ješe tries to spend most of his free time with his wife Nina and their newborn son Žan.