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New national network focusses on gender differences in cardiovascular disease


Hamilton, ON – A team of clinician-investigators jointly affiliated with McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences has formed the GRACE or Gender Research and Cardiovascular Evaluation Network. The goal of the network is to perform high-quality gender-based research in cardiovascular disease, train new researchers and ensure the research results are widely available and accessible to the Canadian public.

The network team leader is Sonia Anand, an associate professor in the Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine of the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. She holds the Eli Lilly Canada – May Cohen Chair in Women’s Health at McMaster University and is a recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Clinician-Scientist Award. As well, Anand is director of the vascular medicine clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences.

GRACE investigators will focus specifically on two areas: acute coronary syndrome and the metabolic syndrome, also known as type-2 diabetes linked with abdominal obesity.

“We will focus on assessing epidemiological studies and clinical trials in these two important problem areas,” says Dr Anand. “We will be analyzing data with a gender lens, asking questions such as ‘Is it appropriate that women with heart disease receive fewer angiograms, compared to men?'”

Another emphasis for the network is to ensure the study results are widely communicated to a broad national audience.

“We want to get the health message out to people so they are aware and can make use of it,” she says. “We usually only publish our papers in scientific journals and sometimes the message doesn’t get out in a simple, usable way.”

In a bid to enhance the transfer of knowledge from the scientific community to the general public, Dr Anand has formed an advisory board, chaired by Maureen McTeer. The advisory board will assist with generating novel approaches to communicating research findings. Ms McTeer is a prominent Canadian lawyer with expertise in medical and reproductive health issues. Other members of the advisory board include former Hamilton MP Sheila Copps, CTV medical correspondent Avis Favaro, May Cohen and Murray Martin, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences.

Dr Anand was awarded about $1 million over five years by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation to establish the GRACE Network. Clinician-scientists involved in the network include Salim Yusuf, professor Heather Arthur, Stefan Blankenberg, Hertzel Gerstein, Eva Lonn, Madhu Natarajan and Shamir Mehta.