McPherson, Ruth

Ruth McPherson, MD, PhD, is Director of the Ruddy Canadian Cardiovascular Genetics CentreAtherogenomics Laboratory and the Lipid Clinic and a member of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. She is also a Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa. Dr. McPherson co-leads the Ottawa region strategic research Innovation Cluster on Vascular Inflammation and Metabolism.  


Dr. McPherson received her PhD from the University of London, in England, and her MD from the University of Toronto, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1984. She completed subspecialty training in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Toronto. She held academic positions at the University of Toronto and McGill University before joining the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in 1992.

Dr. McPherson is a key opinion leader in Canada in the area of clinical lipidology and cardiovascular risk reduction. Dr. McPherson has been an author on the several renditions of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Position Statement on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dyslipidemia and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and is a strong advocate of strategies for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Dr. McPherson is Associate Editor of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology and is a member on the Editorial Boards of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, Journal of Lipid Research, and Circulation – Cardiovascular Genetics.

Dr. McPherson’s research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. She has published over 190 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. She is a lead investigator of the CARDIoGRAM+C4D consortium; her other global partnerships are extensive,including GIANT, MAGIC, Global Lipids, NHLBI ESP, Diogenes and other networks. She has been a keynote speaker at a number of international conferences, including the American Heart Association ATVB meeting, Gordon Conference, International Society of Atherosclerosis and Keystone meeting. Dr. McPherson currently holds the Merck Frosst Canada Chair in Atherosclerosis. Dr. McPherson’s achievements have been recognized with a number of awards, including the The Journal of Lipid Research Lectureship Award, ISA XVI, 2012, AHA Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis & Vascular Biology.  Arteriosclerosis Special Recognition Award, 2011, International Atherosclerosis Symposium XV 2009: Outstanding Achievement Award. She was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2014.

Research and clinical interests


Dr. McPherson directs the Lipid Clinic at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. The clinic is focused on preventive cardiology and includes the diagnosis and management of cholesterol, triglycerides, diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors.


Dr. McPherson is a leader in cardiovascular genetics, having led the discovery of the 9p21 genetic risk factor for heart disease in 2007. Dr. McPherson’s research is centred on the discovery and functional analysis of genetic variants linked to cardiovascular disease and its metabolic precedents, including lipid traits and obesity.


See current publications list at PubMed.
See Research Gate profile

Selected publications:

  1. McPherson R, Tybjaerg-Hansen, A.  Genetics of Coronary Artery Disease. Circulation Research 2016;118:564-578. 
  2. Turner AW, Martinuk A, Silva A, Lau P, Nikpay M, Eriksson P, Folkersen L, Perisic L, Hedin U, Soubeyrand S,  McPherson R.  Functional Analysis of a Novel Genome-wide Association Study Signal in SMAD3 that Confers Protection from Coronary Artery Disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2016;36:972-983.
  3. Soubeyrand S, Martinuk A, Naing T, McPherson R.  Role of Tribbles Pseudokinase 1 (TRIB1) in human hepatocyte metabolism.  BBA - Molecular Basis of Disease 2016;1862:223-232. 
  4. Nikpay M, Goel A, Won HH et al.  A comprehensive 1,000 Genomes-based genome-wide association meta-analysis of coronary artery disease.  Nature Genetics 2015; 47:1121-30.  (corresponding authors: M Farrell, R McPherson, S Kathiresan & H Watkins)
  5. Turner AW, Nikpay M, Silva A, Lau P, Martinuk A, Linseman TA, Soubeyrand S, McPherson R. Functional interaction between COL4A1/COL4A2 and SMAD3 risk loci for coronary artery disease. Atherosclerosis 2015;242:543-552.
  6. Cole CB, Nikpay M, Stewart AF, McPherson R. Increased genetic risk for obesity in premature coronary artery disease. Eur J Hum Genet. 2016; 24:587-91.
  7. Ghosh S, Vivar J, Nelson C, Willenborg C, Segre A, Makinen VP, Nikpay M, Erdmann J, Blankenberg S, O'Donnell C, März W, Laaksonen R, Stewart A, Epstein S, Shah S, Granger C, Hazen S, Kathiresan S, Reilly M, Yang X, Quertermous T, Samani N, Schunkert H, Assimes T, McPherson R. Systems Genetics Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Study Reveals Novel Associations Between Key Biological Processes and Coronary Artery Disease.  Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015;35:1712-22. 
  8. Cole CB, Nikpay M, Lau P, Stewart AF, Davies RW, Wells GA, Dent R, McPherson R. Adiposity significantly modifies genetic risk for dyslipidemia.  J Lipid Res. 2014; 55:2416-22.
  9. Davies RW,  Wells GA, Stewart AFR, Erdmann J, Shah SH, Ferguson JF, Hall AS, Anand SS, Burnett MS, Epstein SE, Dandona S, Chen L, Nahrstaedt J, Loley C, König IR, Kraus WE, Granger CB, Engert JC, Hengstenberg C, Wichmann HE, Schreiber S, Tang WHW, Ellis SG, Rader DJ, Hazen SL, Reilly MP, Samani NJ, Schunkert H, Roberts R, McPherson R.  A genome-wide association study for coronary artery disease identifies a novel susceptibility locus in the major histocompatibility complex. Circulation – Cardiovascular Genetics 2012;5:217-225.
  10. Schunkert H, König IR, Kathiresan S, Reilly MP, Assimes TL, …. Thorsteinsdottir U, O'Donnell CJ, McPherson R, Erdmann J; the CARDIoGRAM Consortium, Samani NJ. (RM: a senior author). Large-scale association analysis identifies 13 new susceptibility loci for coronary artery disease. Nature Genetics 2011; 43:333-338.
  11. Jarinova O, Stewart AFR, Roberts R, Wells GA, Lau P, Naing T, Buerki C, McLean BW, Cook RC, Parker JS, McPherson R. Functional analysis of the chromosome 9p21.3 coronary artery disease risk locus. Arterioscler Thrombos Vasc Biol 2009;29:1671-1677.
  12. McPherson R, Pertsemlidis A, Kavaslar N, Stewart A, Roberts R, Cox DR, Hinds D, Pennacchio LA, Tybjaerg-Hansen A, Folsom AR, Boerwinkle E, Hobbs HH, Cohen JC. A common allele on chromosome 9 associated with coronary heart disease. Science 2007;316:1488-1491.
McPherson, Ruth

McPherson, Ruth

McPherson, Ruth


Appointments and affiliations

Merck Frosst Canada Chair in Atherosclerosis Research
Director, Ruddy Canadian Cardiovascular Genetics Centre
Director, Atherogenomics Laboratory and Lipid Clinic
University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Professor, Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry
University of Ottawa

Research Team
Atherogenomics Laboratory