Dr. Katey Rayner directs the Cardiometabolic microRNA Laboratory at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI), and is appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa.
In a few short years since starting her independent research program, Dr. Rayner has quickly established herself as a young leader in the field of microRNA and cardiometabolic diseases. She was profiled as a “Promising Young Investigator” in the November 11, 2016 issue of Circulation Research.
Dr. Rayner and her team study how microRNAs control multiple aspects of the risk factors that drive both atherosclerosis and obesity, and how these microRNAs can be used as therapeutics to treat these diseases. Her research program receives continuous peer reviewed funding since its inception in 2012. Dr. Rayner is funded by CIHR, the Heart and Stroke Foundation (including a McDonald Scholarship for the highest rated proposal in the New Investigator stream), the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (Early Researcher Award), the Canada Foundation for Innovation, as well as the US National Institutes of Health. Of particular note, Dr. Rayner last year was one of very few researchers across Canada receiving a CIHR Foundation Grant.
Amongst other successes in the last year, Dr. Rayner and her team uncovered a major role for inflammatory cell death in driving the potential for atherosclerotic plaques to rupture. When excessive cholesterol accumulates in macrophages in the vessel wall, a process called necroptosis is activated, which causes cells to explode and promote inflammation. In coronary arteries from humans with very large and advanced disease, necroptosis was activated, and in mice necroptosis inhibitors reduced progression of disease. This work was published in Science Advances, and has formed the basis of the commercial development of necroptosis tracers for non-invasive imaging.
Not only recognized as an outstanding researcher, Dr. Rayner is also a scientific ambassador for the UOHI. She has served on numerous peer review committees including CIHR and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. She is a regular reviewer for Circulation, Circulation Research, Nature Communications, and Cell Reports. She is an Editorial Board member of the American Heart Association’s lead journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB) where she also serves as the Social Media Editor. Dr. Rayner co-chaired the 2017 Ottawa Heart Conference: Inflammation in Cardiometabolic Disease. Dr. Rayner continues to mentor trainees, and is involved with many other initiatives to promote science as well as women in science, most recently in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) panel discussion, Ask Women Anything.