Deema Galambo, MSc, PhD(c)

The goal of Deema’s PhD project is to clarify the interaction between cardiolipin (CL) and the vasculature. CL is a phospholipid found in the inner mitochondrial membrane, where it normally activates and associates with the respiratory complexes. Following myocardial infarction, CL gets released from necrotic cells, consequently affecting neighboring tissues. We have previously demonstrated that physiological concentrations of CL impact angiogenesis as well as endothelial and VSMC migration in vitro, yet the mechanism behind this remains unclear. The objective of Deema’s research is to clarify the impact CL has on the VSMC migration mechanism, CL’s effect on cell bioenergetics, and whether CL affects atherosclerotic development in vivo.

Chelsea D'Abreau, MSc (c)

Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is an important plasma lipoprotein, able to suppress atherosclerosis by promoting liver uptake of circulating cholesterol and lipids. Interestingly we have also observed that lack of ApoE leads to a significant, 50% increase in heart:body weight ratio. The goal of Chelsea’s project is to clarify the underpinnings related to this increase in heart size. Considering that fatty acids are the preferred substrate of cardiomyocytes, and that a deficiency of ApoE leads to accumulation of fatty acids in the plasma, she will determine the influence of altered lipid metabolism. In addition, Chelsea will investigate whether the ratio shift is due to altered vascular resistance and hence a compensatory cardiac hypertrophy.

Golam Kibria, MSc (c)

Ultrasound utilizes wave reflections to calculate blood flow and image blood vessels. Unfortunately, ultrasound imaging of the brain vessels require injection of microbubble contrast agents, which significantly limits their ease-of-use. In his project, Golam will utilize novel signal and image processing methods to measure blood flow volume and map blood vessels without the need for injection of contrast agents. It is paramount to characterize the early phases of changes in the vasculature before irreversible damage occurs. Ultrasound is a safe and easy-to-use imaging modality, and consequently, convenient imaging of blood vessels has significant clinical impact.

Golam is co-supervised with Dr. Hassan Rivaz 

Stephanie MacKenzie, MSc (c)

Zinc (Zn) is an essential trace metal which acts as an intracellular signaling mediator as well as an important cofactor for numerous catalytically active metalloproteinases and transcription factors. Consequently, Zn deficiency has been associated with various chronic pathologies, including cardiovascular disease. The aim of Stephanie’s project is to investigate whether Zn supplementation has a preventative effects on atherogenesis. While studies have found a link between lack of Zn and endothelial dysfunction, the possible protective mechanism for the vascular smooth muscle cells following addition of Zn needs clarification.

Amanda Azakie, MSc (c)

Treatments for various malignant neoplastic diseases are crucial but also thought to be the cause of impaired skeletal muscle function in long-term survivors. Amanda is studying the effects of two, frequently used drugs (Taxol and Carboplatin) with a particular focus on atherogenic progression. While some work has been done in cardiac and skeletal muscle, no comprehensive evaluation of chemotherapy-induced smooth muscle dedifferentiation has been done. Confirming manifestation of persistent dysfunction will provide mechanistic basis for intervention studies aimed at preserving blood vessel function and improving long-term health status by reducing cardiovascular disease.

Justin Mohammed, MSc (c)

Previous literature have suggested that heat and humidity are silent cardiovascular killers, but until now, little is known about the mechanisms behind this phenomenon. The goal of Justin’s project is to investigate whether a controlled heat wave, through an increased stress response will trigger the development of atherosclerosis. He is specifically focusing on the heat producing mitochondria and will investigate whether this organelle will respond to changes in ambient temperature by uncoupling and/or altered expression of thermogenic enzymes or superoxide production. The goal is to highlight the role mitochondria play in thermal adaptation and, in the long run, estimate weather-related mortality as a consequence of future climate-change


Samantha Quinn, MSc (c)

Obesogenic diets are known to rapidly impair muscle contractility as they likely cause lipid infiltration, decrease in antioxidants and augmented capacity to utilize the saturated fatty acid palmitate. The aim of Samantha’s project is to determine whether the polyphenol Proanthocyanidin (PAC), present in cranberries, can normalize metabolism and potentially skeletal and cardiac function in young rats submitted to 2 weeks of high fat diet. Samantha is analyzing feeding/drinking profiles/behaviors, energy expenditure, ambulatory activity and sleep profiles as well as effects on skeletal muscle function using an ex-vivo muscle contractility system. She will also determine whether PAC1 has effects on oxidative stress, formation of intramyocellular lipid droplets and mitochondrial function.

Samantha is co-supervised with Dr. Celena Scheede-Bergdahl (McGill University) and Dr. David St-Pierre (UQAM)