Heart Institute doctor awarded Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize for career achievements

July 16, 2019

The Margolese Prizes recognize Canadians for their outstanding contributions to the treatment, amelioration or cure of brain or heart disorders.

Three of Canada’s leading scientists in heart, brain and cancer research have been recognized by the University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Medicine for their scientific accomplishments, and for their potential to make further contributions in their fields. Dr. Ruth McPherson received the Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize for her international impact on the genetic basis of coronary artery disease.

Dre Ruth McPherson, Institut de cardiologie de l’Université d’Ottawa
Photo: Dr. Ruth McPherson, University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Dr. McPherson, the director of the Ruddy Canadian Cardiovascular Genetics Centre, Atherogenomics Laboratory and Lipid Clinic at the Ottawa Heart Institute, has focused much of her career on advancing the causes and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Dr. McPherson has identified common and rare genetic variants underlying atherosclerosis, a condition that occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries. In 2007, she discovered that the chromosome 9p21 locus is associated with increased risk of early onset atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. This common genetic variant accounts for ten to 15% of CAD incidence, making it the largest known genomic contributor to direct and indirect healthcare costs.  Through the same work, Dr. McPherson identified genetic variants that make some people predisposed to obesity and respond differently to treatment.

Dr. McPherson also demonstrated the clinical importance of intervening early to prevent heart disease among patients with high cholesterol. Most notably, she discovered the role of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) gene as a receptor of HDL cholesterol. This discovery has contributed to our understanding of how “good” cholesterol may protect the human arteries from cardiovascular disease. In her clinic at the UOHI, Dr. McPherson has translated her research findings to the clinic to prioritize diagnostic tests and therapies for the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease.

Dr. McPherson is an established leader in the field of clinical lipidology and cardiovascular disease prevention. Her seminal contributions include more than 260 scientific papers, which are often published in high-impact journals such as Science and Nature Genetics. Additionally, she serves on several editorial boards, and helped forge other global partnerships, including the international CARDIoGRAM+C4D consortium.

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute congratulates Dr. Ruth McPherson.




Click to learn more about Dr. Ruth McPherson, the Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize, or the awardees of the Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize, and the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research, by reading the full release from the University of British Columbia.