Rob Hegele

Rob HegeleRob Hegele, Scientist, Endocrinologist

Jacob J. Wolfe Distinguished Medical Research Chair in Human Gene Function
Martha G. Blackburn Chair in Cardiovascular Research
Director, London Regional Genomics Centre
Scientist, Molecular Medicine, Robarts Research Institute
Distinguished University Professor, Departments of Medicine (Division of Endocrinology) and Biochemistry, Western University

Why I Became a Scientist

From my parents, I developed an appreciation for academics, with the overall goal of helping people. I attended the University of Toronto, receiving my MD 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. During my fellowship in New York City I became inspired to pursue research in genetics. With a strong belief in the potential of human genetics and genomics to help patients, my lab studies the genetic basis of several human disorders, notably dyslipidemia, including high cholesterol and high triglycerides, as well as type 2 diabetes.

Research Summary

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 Jacob J. Wolfe Distinguished Medical Research Chair in Human Gene Function, and the Martha G. Blackburn Chair in Cardiovascular Research.   

He cares for > 2400 patients in his lipid clinic at University Hospital.  He was among the first in North America to use 5 experimental medications, of which 4 are now available for prescription (rosuvastatin, sitagliptin, lomitapide and evolocumab) to treat high cholesterol or diabetes. In addition, his patients have been among the first in Canada to use mipomersen, anacetrapib, bococizumab, evinacumab, volanesorsen, and inclisiran.

His laboratory, alone or in collaboration, discovered the molecular genetic basis of 25 human diseases.  He has published > 815 papers, which have been cited > 60,000 times in the medical literature.  He is listed in the ISI database of the top 1% of highly cited scientists in the world. In 2021, the website “” ranked him #1 globally in the area of “hypertriglyceridemia” and #2 for “disorders of lipid metabolism.”

He has co-authored many clinical practice guidelines for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, and has contributed to international guidelines on familial hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia. He has trained numerous physicians, medical students and graduate students.

Research Questions

Why do some individuals and families develop heart disease and stroke despite very clean living and healthy lifestyles?

Atherosclerosis is an exceedingly complex disease process that causes many strokes and heart attacks.  There is no single explanation for why atherosclerosis can develop prematurely, but research shows that some people have a genetic profile that puts them at risk, in spite of their lifestyle and diet.

Why are certain communities predisposed to developing diabetes?

Diabetes is a complex disease that has cultural, social, environmental and genetic determinants.  There are numerous known genes that raise the risk for diabetes and their effects can be amplified through interacting with environmental and social factors. 

Why is it important to read the genome of patients at risk for common diseases?  
We can now read the individual letters of the genetic code of patients who have suffered from heart disease and diabetes, and also of people who appear well externally before these diseases strike.  Identifying causal genes is often the first step towards developing new diagnostic methods, prevention approaches and effective treatments. 


  • 1975 Associate (Honours), Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto
  • 1981 MD (Honours), University of Toronto


  • FRCP(C) Internal Medicine (1985)
  • FRCP(C) Cert. Endo. Endocrinology & Metabolism (1987)
  • Research Associate, Biochemical Genetics & Metabolism, Rockefeller University, New York City (1985 -1987)
  • Research Associate, Human Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah (1987-1989)
  • FACP, Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, PA (1991)
  • FAHA, Dallas, TX (2004)
  • FCAHS (2007)
  • FCCS (2016)


  • Young Investigator Award, American Federation for Clinical Research (1995)
  • Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics, Tier I (2000)
  • Elected to Membership, American Society for Clinical Investigation (2001)
  • American Heart Association Top Ten Scientific Discoveries (2001)
  • Government of Ontario Distinguished Researcher Award (2001)
  • Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Award of Excellence, UWO (2001)
  • Canadian Diabetes Association Young Scientist Award (2002)
  • Edith Schulich Vinet Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics, Tier I (2004)
  • American Heart Association, Jeffrey M. Hoeg Award for Basic Science & Clinical Research, ATVB Council (2004)
  • The 8th Annual Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research, UWO (2004)
  • 35th Charles H. Best Lecture Award, Toronto Diabetes Association (2005)
  • Jacob J. Wolfe Distinguished Medical Research Chair in Human Gene Function (2005-2025)
  • William F. Grant & Peter B. Moens Award of Excellence, Genetics Society of Canada (2006)
  • Distinguished University Professor Award, UWO (2007)
  • Elected to Fellowship, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2007)
  • American Heart Association, Special Recognition Award, ATVB Council (2007)
  • Jean Davignon Distinguished Cardiovascular Metabolic Research Award (2007)
  • Department of Medicine Research Award of Excellence, UWO (2009)
  • American Heart Association Distinguished Achievement Award, ATVB Council (2011)
  • Canada Research Chair Program Exceptional Contribution (2012)
  • Journal of Lipid Research Lectureship Award, 2012 Kern Conference on Lipid Metabolism (2012)
  • Donald B. Zilversmit Memorial Lecture & Award for Outstanding Research, 5th International Symposium on Chylomicrons in Disease, Boston (2016)
  • CSATVB Scientific Excellence Award. Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC) (2017)
  • Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) Dr. Harold N. Segall Award of Merit for significant contribution to the prevention of cardiovascular disease and promotion of cardiovascular health in Canadians (2018)
  • American College of Physicians (ACP) Ontario Chapter Laureate Award for Research Excellence (2018)
  • American Heart Association 2018 Highly Cited Award, ATVB Council (2019)
  • American Heart Association George Lyman Duff Memorial Lecture Award in Atherosclerosis Research (2019)
  • Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists Award for Research Excellence (2020)
  • The Familial Hypercholesterolemia Foundation (US) Pioneer Award for Improving Care of Those Living with FH (2020)


View all PubMed publications

Contact Info

Robarts Research Institute
Room 4288A
1151 Richmond St. N.
London, ON  N6A 5B7

Assistant: Ericka Simon, CMOA
Phone: 519-931-5774
Fax: 519 931-5218