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This issue introduces papers based on the Fourth Czech-French-Slovak Symposium, “New Frontiers in Basic Cardiovascular Research”, now the traditional meeting of scientists from all three countries engaged in all aspects of cardiovascular research from molecular and cellular biology to cardiovascular medicine. This special event was again considered an ideal opportunity to focus on the exciting new advances in cardiovascular biology and pathophysiology, besides offering the chance of meeting old friends and making new ones. The great idea of Rodolphe Fischmeister and Bohuslav Ošt’ádal to bring together people from all three countries interested in the same field, and so to provide an important forum for presenting and discussing their most recent research, was first realized in 1994 in Prague. The scientific and friendly atmosphere of this meeting was the start of a new tradition of providing a forum for highly successful scientific exchange every other year.
The symposium in Mariánské Lázně linked up to the previous symposia and, as was kindly appreciated by its participants, met all expectations. The scientific program was split into seven sessions with 39 oral presentations and, in addition, two poster sessions with 26 posters. The interesting advances in basic science that were shown and discussed focused on the electrical properties of the myocardium, calcium signalling and excitation-contraction coupling, neuroendocrine regulation, signal transduction, ultrastructure, energetics, and molecular and cellular mechanisms of cardiomyocytes. Moreover, new discoveries in physiological and pathophysiological actions of nitric oxide, cellular and molecular alterations related to hypertension, heart failure and heart ischemia were presented including mechanisms of cardioprotection. Thus, the applications of cellular and molecular biology to cardiovascular medicine have become increasingly evident.
New ideas were formulated not only in the course of scientific sessions but also while chatting over coffee or around the dinner table, or while walking in the streets and beautiful parks of the town. Despite the bad weather, the meeting made a great impression, which led to the idea that the participants should commemorate this event by publishing some of their presentations. One of the founders of this meeting and the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Bohuslav Ošt’ádal, made it possible. The enthusiasm of the scientists and the pleasant atmosphere suggest that this should become a tradition. A new organizing committee was established and it was decided that the 2002 meeting will take place in the Slovak Republic.
The symposium in Mariánské Lázně passed smoothly thanks to the effort of my colleagues from the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Plzeň. However, we all believe that the ‘genius loci’ of the town, which is known to contribute to all the effects of the spa, helped greatly in this respect.
Our gratitude must be expressed once again to INSERM and Servier for providing major financial sponsorship, which has made the organization of this meeting possible.