Rob Hegele, Scientist
Why I Became a Scientist
From my parents, I developed at an early age a great appreciation for academics and learning. I attended the University of Toronto and received my medical degree in 1981. Specialty training in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology was followed by four years of post-doctoral training, first at the Rockefeller University, New York City, in heart disease and cholesterol, and then in human genetics at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was during my research fellowship in New York City that I became inspired to pursue research in genetics. With a strong belief in the power of human genetics and genomics to help solve fundamental problems related to human health and disease, my lab began researching the genetic basis of several human disorders, most notably several forms of dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) and type 2 diabetes.
Rob Hegele is Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, Western University, and Director of London Regional Genomics Centre at Robarts Research Institute. He holds the Wolfe Distinguished Medical Research Chair, the Edith Schulich Vinet Chair in Human Genetics and the Blackburn Chair in Cardiovascular Research.
He cares for > 2000 patients in his lipid clinic at University Hospital. He was first in North America to use 5 medications that are now routinely prescribed to treat high cholesterol or diabetes.
His laboratory discovered the molecular genetic basis of > 20 human diseases. He has published > 600 papers, which have been cited > 20,000 times in the medical literature. He is listed in the ISI database of the top 1% of highly cited scientists in the world.
He has contributed to national clinical practice guidelines for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, and to international guidelines on familial hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia. He has trained many physicians, medical students and graduate students.
Research Questions and Disease Implications
Why do some individuals and families develop heart disease and stroke despite very clean living and healthy lifestyles?
Identification of new genes that can cause heart disease, stroke and such high risk conditions as diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension.
Identification of new genes leads to new understanding of pathways for these diseases and is the first step in the development of new diagnostic methods and treatments.
Why are certain aboriginal groups in Canada so highly predisposed to developing diabetes?
Identification of new genes and the exacerbating environmental factors that cause diabetes can lead to new understanding of the underlying pathways and is the first step in the development of new diagnostic methods and treatments.
How is it that certain people can eat as much as they like and not gain any weight, while some others eat sparingly but cannot seem to lose weight?
Identification of new genes that create susceptibility to obesity can lead to new understanding of the underlying pathways and is the first step in the development of new diagnostic methods and treatments.
• 1975 Associate (Honours), Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto
• 1981 MD (Honours), University of Toronto
• 1985 FRCP(C), Internal Medicine
• 1987 FRCP(C), Subspecialty certification, Endocrinology & Metabolism
• 1985- 87 Research Associate, Biochemical Genetics & Metabolism,
• Rockefeller University, New York, New York
• 1987-89 Research Associate, Human Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah
• 1991 FACP, Internal Medicine
• 2004 FAHA
• 2007 FCAHS
• 2016 FCCS
1995 Young Investigator Award, American Federation for Clinical Research
2000 Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics, Tier I
2001 Elected to membership, American Society for Clinical Investigation
2001 American Heart Association Top Ten Scientific Discoveries for 2001
2001 Government of Ontario Distinguished Researcher Award
2001 Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Award of Excellence, UWO
2002 Canadian Diabetes Association Young Scientist Award
2004 Edith Schulich Vinet Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics, Tier I
2004 Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research, UWO
2004 American Heart Association, Jeffrey M. Hoeg Award for Basic Science & Clinical Research, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis & Vascular Biology Council
2005 35th Charles H. Best Lecture Award, Toronto Diabetes Association
2005 Jacob J. Wolfe Distinguished Medical Research Chair in Human Gene Function
2006 William F. Grant and Peter B. Moens Award of Excellence, Genetics Society of Canada
2007 Distinguished University Professor Award, UWO
2007 Elected to Fellowship in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
2007 American Heart Association, Special Recognition Award in Arteriosclerosis, Scientific Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology
2007 Jean Davignon Distinguished Cardiovascular Metabolic Research Award
2009 Department of Medicine Research Award of Excellence, U.W.O.
2011 American Heart Association ATVB Distinguished Achievement Award, Scientific Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology
2012 Canada Research Chair Program. Exception Contribution to the College of Reviewers
2012 The Journal of Lipid Research Lectureship Award, 2012 Kern Conference on Lipid Metabolism
2016 Donald B. Zilversmit Memorial Lecture and Award for Outstanding Research, 5th International Symposium on Chylomicrons in Disease (ISCD) Boston
2016 Expertscape.com has ranked "Hegele RA" #1 globally for "lipid metabolism disorders" and "hypertriglyceridemia"
Joy TR, Hegele RA. Narrative review: Statin-related myopathy. Ann Intern Med 2009; 150:858-868. (PMID: 19528564)
Hegele RA. Plasma lipoproteins: genetic influences and clinical implications. Nat Rev Genet 2009; 10:109-121. (PMID: 19139765)
Lee JH, Giannikopoulos P, Duncan SA, Wang J, Johansen CT, Brown JD, Plutzky J, Hegele RA, Glimcher LH, Lee AH. The transcription factor cyclic AMP-responsive element-binding protein H regulates triglyceride metabolism. Nat Med 2011; 17:812-815. (PMID: 21666694)
Ng DS, Wong NC, Hegele RA. HDL – is it too big to fail? Nat Rev Endocrinol 2013; 9:308-312. (PMID: 23318230)
Anderson TJ, Grégoire J, Hegele RA, Couture P, Mancini GB, McPherson R, Francis GA, Poirier P, Lau DC, Grover S, Genest J Jr, Carpentier AC, Dufour R, Gupta M, Ward R, Leiter LA, Lonn E, Ng DS, Pearson GJ, Yates GM, Stone JA, Ur E. 2012 update of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the adult. Can J Cardiol 2013; 29:151-167. (PMID: 23351925)
Hegele RA, Ginsberg HN, Chapman MJ, Nordestgaard BG, Kuivenhoven JA, Averna M, Borén J, Bruckert E, Catapano AL, Descamps OS, Hovingh GK, Humphries SE, Kovanen PT, Masana L, Pajukanta P, Parhofer KG, Raal FJ, Ray KK, Santos RD, Stalenhoef AF, Stroes E, Taskinen MR, Tybjærg-Hansen A, Watts GF, Wiklund O; on behalf of the European Atherosclerosis Society Consensus Panel. The polygenic nature of hypertriglyceridaemia: implications for definition, diagnosis, and management. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2013 Dec 23 pii: S2213-8587(13)70191-8. (PMID: 24731657)
Sacks FM, Stanesa M, Hegele RA. Severe hypertriglyceridemia with pancreatitis: Thirteen years’ treatment with lomitapide. JAMA Intern Med 2014; 174:443-447. (PMID: 24366202)
Dube JB, Wang J, Cao H, McIntyre A, Johansen CT, Hopkins SE, Stringer R, Hosseinzadeh S, Kennedy BA, Ban MR, Young TK, Connelly PW, Dewailly E, Bjerregaard P, Boyer BB, Hegele RA. The common LDLR p.G116S variant has a large effect on plasma LDL cholesterol in Circumpolar Inuit Populations. Circ Cardiovasc Genet 2015; 8:100-105. (PMID: 25414273)
Lewis GF, Xiao C, Hegele RA. Hypertriglyceridemia in the genomic era: A new paradigm. Endocr Rev 2015; 36:131-147. (PMID: 25554923)
Brahm AJ, Hegele RA. Chylomicronaemia: Current diagnosis and future therapies. Nat Rev Endocrinol 2015; 11:352-62.(PMID:25732519)
Filler G, Lee M, Hegele RA. Barriers to the implementation of lipoprotein apheresis in Canada. Can J Cardiol 2017; 33:409-411. (PMID: 28232020)
Brahm AJ, Hegele RA. Lomitapide for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2016; 25:1457-1463. (PMID: 27785928)
Dron JS, Hegele RA. Complexity of mechanisms among human proprotein convertase subtilisin-kexin type 9 variants. Curr Opin Lipidol 2017; 28:161-169. (PMID: 28157721)