About UsSecretariat


The EHN Secretariat is based in Brussels, Belgium. This dynamic international team executes EHN’s strategy, operations and activities, and works to support and inform its national members.

Birgit Beger

Chief Executive Officer

+32 2 512 06 14

Birgit Beger is the CEO of the European Heart Network (EHN). A well-respected senior executive with 18+ years of EU public policy experience, with a focus on leading European Professional Associations (Medical Doctors, Lawyers). Birgit is a qualified lawyer with a proven track record of success in contract law and litigation. Her senior management skills and diplomatic outreach to all political levels, both at the national and European level, coupled with her communication skills, have brought considerable added value to the leadership roles she has held during her tenures as CEO of the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO), and as Secretary General of the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME).

Ms Beger’s academic background is in law with a specialisation in EU law/International Public Law and Political Science. She holds master’s degrees in both. She is member of WHO-Europe Regional Director’s Advisory Council on Innovation for Noncommunicable Diseases (the NCD Advisory Council).

Maria Cummins

Executive Assistant to the CEO – Copy Editor

+32  472 11 14 57 

Maria Cummins joined EHN in July 2020. In her role as Executive Assistant, she contributes to a positive office culture and to the smooth running of internal and external communications, in three languages (French, Italian and English), for the CEO. As a professional Copy Editor, she reviews EHN documents destined for external publication. Maria has a broad experience working in the European public healthcare sector, having worked in a renowned Belgian cancer institute, Institut Jules Bordet, alongside a multidisciplinary team and its Medical Director, managing events, patient-led committee meetings and external communications. Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and an advanced university diploma in applied modern languages. Before joining EHN, she worked at JA Europe, a large, entrepreneurial education NGO and the OECI, Organisation of European Cancer Institutes.

Marleen Kestens

Manager Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Policies

+32 2 502 15 41

Marleen Kestens is the Manager responsible for cardiovascular disease prevention policies in the European Heart Network.  She develops position papers, organises advocacy campaigns and informs EHN member organisations about developments  in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention. Her main fields of interest are food and nutrition policies, tobacco control, air pollution, physical activity policies and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases.  She joined the European Heart Network in 2003.  She contributes to EHN’s communication and information campaigns and has lead several EHN projects (some funded by the EU) in the field of cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention. She has extensive experience in the field of advocacy and policy development. Marleen holds a masters degree in international politics from the Louvain la Neuve University in Belgium. She is fluent in Dutch, English, French and speaks German and Spanish.  

Isabella Cinà

Project and Communication Officer

+32 2 500 70 90

Isabella Cinà is the EU Project and Communication Officer at the European Heart Network (EHN), primarily supporting the Secretariat’s work on facilitating meaningful patient involvement and engagement in EU-funded research and innovation projects. Before joining EHN, Isabella completed a Master of Medical Sciences in Public Health, specialising in health promotion and disease prevention, from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and has a research background in evaluating physical activity interventions in various health contexts at local and national levels. As a Canadian transplant in Brussels, Isabella is always looking to find new mountains to hike in Europe.

Carlos Altuna

Policy Advisor Patients and Research

+32 2 512 91 74

Carlos Altuna is the Policy Advisor Patients and Research in the European Heart Network (EHN). Formerly a Policy Officer at Valencia’s representation in Brussels, Carlos now advocates for patient-centric policies within the Patient and Consumer Working Party at the European Medicines Agency. He follows up European health policies, and organises MEP-led events on critical health issues. He joined EHN in January 2023 and holds a master’s degree in international and European Law from the Toulouse University in France. Feel free to talk with him in Spanish, French, English or Catalan!

Alessandra Boschi

Media and Communications Intern

+32 2 512 91 74

Alessandra joined EHN in January 2023 as Communications and Media Intern. Here, she contributes to carrying out external and internal communication activities. Alessandra has an academic background in communications and international relations, and she is passionate about digital culture and social justice issues. She speaks Italian and English fluently, and she is learning French.