Ross D. Feldman
Professor, Medicine and Physiology/Pharmacology
Why I Became a Scientist
During the course of my training as a physician, I was driven both by the art and the science of medicine- especially in the workings of the heart and circulation. More than thirty years later I am still grateful for the opportunities to decipher how the cardiovascular system works at a cellular and molecular level and how manipulating those cellular systems can either lead to blood vessel diseases or new treatment approaches.
My laboratory has helped to further our understanding of how blood vessels are regulated and how those systems breakdown in blood vessel diseases- including high blood pressure.
In hypertension, a failure of blood vessels to relax properly in response to hormones is one of the most important mechanisms leading to the development of hypertension. We discovered the molecular mechanism underlying that defect and identified the protein responsible (J Clin Invest.1997;99:2087-2093).
We now know that insulin has important effects on blood vessels- beyond its effects on regulation of glucose. We were the first to demonstrate how insulin caused blood vessel relaxation and that the ability of insulin to regulate blood vessels was impaired in diabetes, hypertension and with obesity (Lancet 1993; 342:707-709). These studies have been important in our understanding of the linkage between hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Unraveling the cardiovascular effects of estrogen has been and remains an important question. On one hand, the lower rate of heart disease in women has in part been attributed to estrogen. However, post-menopausal estrogen replacement either does not protect or increases risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies from our laboratory have delineated the cellular basis for these two sided effects of estrogen and how an imbalance in those estrogen-driven systems can lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in women- two of the most important causes of heart disease and stroke.
In addition to my biomedical research program, I continue a clinical research program. Recent studies have focused on the development and determination of the effectiveness of novel approaches to manage hypertension and other atherosclerotic risk factors in the primary care setting.
Why have reproductive hormones like estrogen been linked BOTH to positive and negative cardiovascular effects? What are the mechanisms involved?
Estrogen has been shown to be both cardioprotective and to precipitate cardiovascular complications. Figuring out the different pathways that these effects are mediated by will allow the opportunity to develop more specific therapies that optimize the positive effects.
How can we improve the management of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes?
The treatment of these 2 major risk factors for heart disease remains a challenge- in part related to the complexity of therapies. We are testing the effectiveness of a simplified approach to the treatment of these diseases.
- Queen’s University, University of Toronto, Vanderbilt University
- BSc, MD, Internal Medicine residency, Post-doctoral training in Clinical Pharmacology
- Burroughs-Welcome Award in Clinical Pharmacology
- Young Investigator Award, CSCP
- ACP Scholar Award
- Career Investigator Award HSFO
- Senior Investigator Award CSCP
- Distinguished Scientist Award CHS
- Dean’s Award of Excellence, Schulich School of Medicine
- George Fodor Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Prevention & Control of Hypertension, Hypertension Canada
Ross D. Feldman, MD
RW Gunton Professor of Therapeutics
Departments of Medicine and of Physiology & Pharmacology
University of Western Ontario
Scientist, Molecular Medicine: Vascular and Brain Health Group
Robarts Research Institute
1151 Richmond St. N.
London, ON, Canada