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Chair appointment for London scientist

London, ON – Dr Robert Hegele, a professor in the departments of medicine and biochemistry at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and a scientist at the Robarts Research Institute has been appointed to the Jacob J Wolfe Distinguished Medical Research Chair in Human Gene Function. The new role will allow him to translate his research on gene discovery and gene mutations into strategies for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease.

"Since coming to London from Toronto, my lab has successfully identified numerous genes that cause early heart attacks, strokes and diabetes in certain Canadian families and communities," says Dr Hegele. "But finding these genes is just the first step in the research process. We will now be able to take our genetic discoveries to the next level. We will be able to characterize the complex mechanisms whereby these faulty genes cause these diseases in our patients. These new understandings will lead to new options and approaches to slow the progression of these illnesses."

Dr Carol Herbert, dean of Western’s Schulich School of Medicine notes, "Dr Hegele’s work will build on the research underway at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and its affiliated research institutions, which is vital to advancing our knowledge and understanding of the fundamental risk factors involved in diseases affecting a growing population."

Dr Hegele is an endocrinologist, scientist and director of the Blackburn cardiovascular genetics lab at Robarts. An expert in the field of molecular genetics and cardiovascular disease, his accomplishments include discovering the genes that cause eight different human diseases, including aboriginal-type 2 diabetes and familial partial lipodystrophy, as well as having made significant contributions to the areas of clinical teaching and mentoring of research trainees.

He was awarded a career investigatorship from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, was recognized by the American Heart Association for making one of the top 10 discoveries in 2001, and received the Young Scientist Award from the Canadian Diabetes Association in 2002. He is also the 2004 recipient of Western’s Hellmuth Award for Achievement in Research.