Fred and Richard Schulz

CP grants open new heart research opportunities

10 funded studies tackle topics from heart failure to impact of fertility drugs.

As long as he can remember, trains have been a part of Dr. Richard Schulz’s life. Like many kids, he played with a toy train set, plus he loved watching a CP freight train going through the Rockies or the CP Calgary-Edmonton passenger train pass by his Calgary home. If you wanted to know the latest colours Canadian Pacific had in store for its new line of trains, he could tell you. 

That inside track (pun intended) came from his father, Fred, (pictured above, left, with Dr. Schulz) who worked for CP as a blacksmith for 38 years, doing welding and metal work on locomotives and running stock at Ogden Yards, its Western Canada repair shop.

Now a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Dr. Schulz is one of 10 recipients selected to receive a 2015 CP Has Heart Cardiovascular Research Award. And he – and his dad, now 83 – couldn’t be prouder.

Dr. Schulz’s research focus is the mechanism by which permanent damage to the heart – and eventual heart failure – can result from a heart attack. He is investigating the role of a protein called MMP-2, which is activated when blood flow to the heart is restored. Determining how the protein contributes to heart damage could lead to inhibitor drugs to prevent heart failure and save lives.

All of the 2015 CP Has Heart Cardiovascular Award recipients were selected through the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s rigorous peer review process. Some of the other research topics include:

Dr. John Eikelboom

Creating better outcomes for patients on blood thinners: Blood thinning medications to reduce the risk of clots are routinely used to prevent heart attack and stroke, but they can also cause bleeding. Dr. John Eikelboom of McMaster University in Hamilton is working to identify the risk factors for bleeding in patients receiving these medications, with an aim to develop new strategies for preventing heart attack and stroke.

 

Dr. Slava Epelman Preventing heart damage from viral infections: Viral infections can leave the heart damaged and vulnerable to develop heart failure in adults and children. Dr. Slava Epelman of the University of Toronto is examining the role of the heart’s own immune cells in battling viral infections and how they may actually contribute to heart damage through inflammation, with an aim to find new therapies to protect the heart from damage.

 

Dr. Gregoire Le Gal Building a better test to detect dangerous blood clots: When blood clots form in the leg veins, a fast, accurate diagnosis is critical to avoid the potentially fatal risk of clots travelling to the lungs. Dr. Gregoire Le Gal of the University of Ottawa is investigating a more accurate age-adjusted test to help doctors diagnose and treat clots faster, saving lives and preventing unnecessary blood-thinning therapy for patients who don’t need it.

 

Dr. Shubhayan Sanatani Reducing the toll of a deadly heart defect: A heart rhythm disorder known as CPVT can kill as many as half of those who have it by age 30. We know little about it, and who is at highest risk for cardiac arrest and sudden death. A study led by Dr. Shubhayan Sanatani of the University of British Columbia is the first to address CPVT on a large scale by establishing a detailed registry of patients, including family history and blood samples, and could save lives through personalized treatments.

 

Dr. Jay UdellUnderstanding the impact of fertility drugs on women’s heart health: More Canadian women are using fertility drugs to get pregnant, yet we know little about their long-term effects. Dr. Jacob Udell of the University of Toronto is leading the first study of the association between fertility treatment failure and the risk of cardiovascular events. The results could lead to saving the lives of more Canadian women.

 

The CP Has Heart Cardiovascular Awards are part of an innovative partnership between the Heart and Stroke Foundation and CP. To support cardiovascular research in Canada, CP has committed to investing $3 million in these research projects over the next three years.

The 2015 CP Has Heart Cardiovascular Awards are being presented to the recipients at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress on Oct. 25, 2015

 

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