Lab Canada

Cardiovascular disease the focus of new research centre

Guelph, ON – Developing comprehensive and innovative ways to fight cardiovascular disease will be the focus of the new Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations at the University of Guelph. Officially launched this month, the centre is a collaborative venture by laboratories in the Ontario Veterinary College, the College of Biological Sciences and the department of Human Health & Nutritional Sciences.


The centre involves eight lead cardiovascular scientists and clinicians, as well as dozens of collaborators, graduate and undergraduate students. The university says it is one of only a few centres worldwide looking at cardiovascular disease comprehensively, from single molecules to clinical applications.


Headed by heart researcher Prof. Tami Martino of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, the centre is dedicated to discovering novel ways to diagnose heart disease, advance treatment therapies and train the next generation of scientists.


“This centre will expand and enhance our research capability in this important area of study,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research). “Cardiovascular disease continues to be a leading cause of death. By joining forces, our scientists will draw on each other’s strengths, resources and areas of expertise. Together, they will learn more about what causes this disease and make discoveries that can help improve the lives of Canadians.”


“Through our centre’s research programs and facilities, we’re looking to significantly advance our understanding of this major health issue,” said Martino. “Our commitment is to bring together stakeholders and resources to create better health outcomes in the treatment and prevention of heart disease.”


During the past four years, the lead investigators have attracted more than $4.5 million worth of external research funding.


Martino investigates how circadian rhythms (24-hour body clocks) affect cardiovascular health, molecular genes and proteins in heart disease, and preclinical imaging.


The team includes other faculty from the Ontario Veterinary College: biomedical sciences professor Glen Pyle examines heart contraction and heart failure and is developing the centre’s tissue banks; Prof. Ron Johnson, also from biomedical sciences, researches pharmacology; and clinical studies professor Lynne O’Sullivan investigates natural animal models of heart disease.


From the College of Biological Science, integrative biology professor Todd Gillis studies cardiac proteins and physiology; molecular and cellular biology professor John Dawson looks at actin and cardiac disease.


From human health and nutritional sciences, professor Jeremy Simpson studies the cardio-respiratory and muscle systems; and Philip Millar investigates the sympathetic nervous system.


Martino said the state-of-the-art preclinical cardiovascular imaging facility, located in the OVC Health Sciences Centre, will reduce the time required to translate laboratory success into direct clinical applications, improving patient health in animals and humans.


Through the centre, the faculty and students will work together and with a growing network of national and international institutions and research programs.


“This will advance our investigations and provide an opportunity for our students and faculty to collaborate with leaders across the field,” said Martino.