Robert Gros

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Scientist
Molecular Medicine: Vascular and Brain Health Group
Associate Professor, Departments of Physiology & Pharmacology and Medicine

Why I Became a Scientist

As a kid I always enjoyed playing with my chemistry set and my microscope, but being at the hospital and visiting my Oma when she suddenly died of cardiac arrest due to diabetic complications was one of those moments that really ignited the fire to pursue a career in medical research.

Research Summary

The focus of my laboratory is to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of vascular and cardiac function. In particular, we are interested in the role and regulation of G-protein-coupled receptor signaling pathways in both vascular smooth muscle cell, endothelial cell and cardiomyocyte function under physiological and pathological conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes or heart disease. 

The regulation of vascular and cardiac function is complex and involves many different signaling pathways, including the large family of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and adenylyl cyclases.   We and other have identified that impaired function in these signaling pathways is associated with hypertension and heart disease.  This impairment in GPCR-mediated function is in part due to increased expression/ function of G-protein-coupled receptor kinases. However, the cellular/molecular mechanism(s) involved in the regulation of altered GRK expression during the hypertensive state (or other pathological conditions) is unknown and is the focus of my laboratory’s research effort.

Research Questions

Understanding the regulation of G-protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) in cardiovascular disease. 

The function of G-protein-coupled receptors is altered in diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease.  These diseases are associated with higher expression levels of GRKs, but why and how these levels are increased in unknown.  

Identification of novel cardiovascular G-protein-coupled receptor signaling pathways under physiological and patho-physiological conditions.

The rapid vascular actions of steroid hormones such as estrogen and aldosterone are in part mediated by a recently discovered G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR30.  The vascular actions of steroid hormones have been implicated in both hypertension and heart disease.  However, the role of GPR30 and its signaling pathways in cardiovascular disease in unknown.

Understanding the role of the neuronal and non-neuronal cholinergic systems in cardiovascular regulation.

Acetylcholine is the major chemical messenger regulating autonomic functions.  Cholinergic neurons regulate many bodily functions and organs, including the heart.  In addtion, the potential role of a non-neuronal cholinergic system present in cardiomyocytes themselves is also being investigated by our laboratory.  This research examining the role of these cholinergic systems has started to uncover novel mechanisms that regulate the activity of the heart and may have implications to develop novel treatments for heart failure.

Understanding the role of different adenylyl cyclase isoforms in cardiovascular regulation.

Adenylyl cyclase plays a critical role in the function and regulation of many different cell types, including blood vessel and heart cells.  We have recently identified that different adenylyl cyclase isoforms have distinct roles in regulating cellular function.  Additionally, we have recently identified a variant (polymorphism) of adenylyl cyclase isoform VI, which is associated with alterations in blood pressure and heart rate regulation in human subjects.  What role this variant plays in cardiovascular disease development or progression is unknown.

Education

  • Ph.D., Pharmacology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario

Training

  • Toronto General Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
  • Robarts Research Institute, London, Ontario 

Awards

  • New Investigator Award, Canadian Hypertension Society/Biovail
  • The Dr. Maureen Andrew New Investigator Award, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario
  • New Investigator Award, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
  • The Evelyn McGloin Fellowship, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario
  • Fellowship Award , Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario
  • The Edward Christie Stevens Fellowship in Medicine. Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
  • Graduate Studentship Award, Canadian Hypertension Society/Pfizer/MRC
  • Summer Student Research Scholarship in Medicine, PMAC/MRC 94)

Publications

View all PubMed publications

Contact Info

Maria Sinacori, Administrative Assistant
Robarts Research Institute
1151 Richmond St. N., Room 1240
London, ON  N6A 5B7
Phone: 519-931-5777 ext. 24118
Email: msinacori@robarts.ca