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Ottawa heart institute creates new hypertension research chair


Ottawa, ON October 27, 2003 (October 10, 2003) The University of Ottawa Heart Institute has created the Pfizer Chair in Hypertension Research. It says the five-year agreement will advance the groundbreaking work of the Institute’s Hypertension Research Group in new and unexplored areas, such as the impact on brain function.

The first recipient of the Pfizer Chair in Hypertension Research is Dr. Frans Leenen, director, hypertension unit, Ottawa Heart Institute. “Dr Leenen is a world leader in hypertension, whose work is internationally recognized,” says Dr Wilbert Keon, president and CEO of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. “The establishment of this chair is important not only for Dr Leenen’s research but for the millions of Canadians who have hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease and Canada’s leading cause of death.”

Pfizer Canada and the Heart Institute Foundation will each invest C$1 million, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will contribute $400,000. The total partnership will amount to $2.4 million in support of hypertension research, an essential strategic priority for the Heart Institute.

“As a leader in cardiovascular research, Pfizer is very proud to contribute to Canada’s research knowledge and to support the innovative work of Dr Leenen in hypertension,” says Jean Michel Halfon, president of Pfizer Canada. “It is extremely important to ensure that long-term research in this field continues knowing that the Canadian population is growing older, and that the burden on our healthcare system will continue to increase.”

The hypertension research group at the Heart Institute has taken a new approach by exploring into the brain. By assessing the impact of salt on brain function, the research team is able to target specific areas affecting the nervous system and therefore, blood pressure. The researchers believe that a better understanding of these brain mechanisms will help explain genetic links to hypertension and may lead to more effective prevention measures and new therapies for patients.