National charity Heart Research UK has hosted its first ever virtual masterclass, training the next generation of heart surgeons in endoscopic heart valve surgery.

The masterclass, which was live-streamed from the West Midlands Surgical Training Centre (WMSTC), University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire on the 2nd of December, allowed delegates to learn the latest techniques to repair and replace faulty heart valves using keyhole surgery.

These minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery techniques avoid the need for creating large incisions in the chest, which may minimise risk to patients and speed up recovery times.

The course, which was led by Mr Joseph Zacharias, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, was livestreamed to delegates and demonstrated endoscopic mitral and aortic valve replacement surgery, as well as lectures and discussion.

The interactive session will be followed by a practical training session at the WMSTC in 2021, where delegates will be able to gain hands-on experience of the new techniques, operating on cadavers.

Heart Research UK masterclasses are free to delegates, ensuring that these skills can be learnt by medical professionals across the country.

Course Director Mr Joseph Zacharias, said: “The Masterclass was a huge success, we had more delegates than we expected and everything worked very well. We are so pleased that Heart Research UK sees the importance of sessions like this.

In every profession, there needs to be places for professionals to practice. Golfers have driving ranges, we have these training courses. They give heart surgeons a place to train, practise and innovate.

“There’s very little funding for courses such as this, so we thank Heart Research UK and their supporters for this opportunity.”

Helen Wilson, Head of Research at Heart Research UK, said: “Our Masterclasses are absolutely vital in helping to educate the expert health professionals of tomorrow. Given the current restrictions, we have had to alter the way we provide these courses, and we are incredibly glad we were still able to offer this training.

“There is a great deal of interest in minimally invasive heart surgery so we are really pleased to give surgeons the opportunity to learn these techniques from Mr Zacharias and his colleagues.

“At Heart Research UK, our aim is to benefit patients as soon as possible, and our masterclasses are one of the most effective ways of doing that.”

To find out more about Heart Research UK and the Masterclasses that they run, please visit