Sponsored Awards

Polk Award

Best Clinical Science/Bio-behavioural & Population Health Oral Presentation

The Howard and Doris Polk Award recognizes the Best Clinical Science Oral Presentation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s Annual Research Day. Each year, trainees in cardiovascular science gather to present and discuss their research with peers and established researchers. The presenters put on their best performance, showcase their work, and answer probing questions from the judges and other members in the audience.

This year, Ms. Kerri-Anne Mullen, a PhD student working with Dr. Doug Manuel of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Drs. Andrew Pipe and Bob Reid of the Ottawa Heart Institute, won this prestigious honour.

Mullen’s research is focused on the health, healthcare, and economic impacts of the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation. Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of cardiovascular diseases in Canada. Smokers are frequently hospitalized, making hospitals a good place to initiate programs that help people quit smoking. The Ottawa Heart Institute has been offering a quit smoking program, “the Ottawa Model”, to hospitalized patients with heart disease since the early 2000s. The Ottawa Model offers advice, medication, and follow-up support to hospitalized smokers and significantly increases the number of people who quit smoking over the long-term. It has been implemented in nearly 200 sites across Canada.

In her study, Mullen found that smokers who received the Ottawa Model intervention while in hospital were 24% less likely to be re-hospitalized and 40% less likely to die over two years, compared to smokers that did not receive the program. These findings support an increase in the adoption such programs by hospitals in order to reduce health care costs and enhance patients’ quality of life.

Kerri-Anne Mullen (centre), PhD student, received the Howard & Doris Polk Award for the Best Clinical Science Oral Presentation from Dr. Derek So (left), Chair, Research Day Committee, and Dr. Thierry Mesana (right), Heart Institute President & CEO.

Kerri-Anne Mullen (centre), PhD student, received the Howard & Doris Polk Award for the Best Clinical Science Oral Presentation from Dr. Derek So (left), Chair, Research Day Committee, and Dr. Thierry Mesana (right), Heart Institute President & CEO.

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Coralie Lalonde Innovation Award

The Innovation Award at the UOHI Research Day, in its second iteration, was established to promote innovation and the application of research to solve unmet basic science and clinical needs. The goal is to emphasize the importance of translating research into real world applications, and successfully pitching it to a general audience.

Semi-finalists and finalists presented their ‘pitch’ to, and fielded questions from, a panel of Judges with diverse expertise–from basic scientists to cardiologists, lawyers, administrators, and innovation leaders. The evaluation criteria are 1) novelty; 2) impact; and 3) the candidate’s ability to effectively communicate their research in lay language.

Nick Blackburn, a doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Erik Suuronen, successfully pitched the importance of his work on ‘Toxic Metabolites in Heart Failure’, and took home the honour as the 2014 Innovation Award winner.

Nick’s work is focused on identifying factors that alter the heart structure after a heart attack. These structural changes can eventually lead to heart failure. “If we can identify what orchestrates the process leading to heart failure, perhaps we can develop drugs that could prevent this debilitating disease”, said Nick.

Nick has shown that a heart attack can cause the production of a compound called methyglyoxal. This compound is a by-product of sugar breakdown, and is well known in diabetes where increased blood sugar levels trigger its production. Methyglyoxal has been shown to modify proteins, thus affecting protein function and in turn, affecting how cells and tissues behave. What’s worse is that a heart attack can also affect the system designed to remove methyglyoxal from the cell. To understand how methyglyoxal affects the healing following an attack, Nick and his supervisor genetically engineered mice protected against its effects. The results showed that mice protected from methylglyoxal were also protected from the on-going damage that occurs. These mice had better heart function, less on-going cell death, and their hearts preserved their geometry better.

This work is the first to show that methylglyoxal is an important contributor to heart failure following a heart attack. Targeting its production may be a potential therapeutic approach in preventing heart failure.

Coralie Lalonde Innovation Award Research Day 2014

Coralie Lalonde Innovation Award Research Day 2014
From right to left: 2014 Innovation Award winner Nick Blackburn; Dr. Wilbert Keon, Heart Institute Founder; Ms. Coralie Lalonde, Chair, Ottawa Heart Institute Research Corp Board of Directors; Ian Curry, CEO, Genotek.

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Servier Award

Best Basic Science Oral Presentation

The Servier Award recognizes the Best Basic Science Oral Presentation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s 27th Annual Research Day. Each year, trainees in cardiovascular science gather to present and discuss their research with peers and established researchers. The presenters put forth their best performances, showcase their work, answer probing questions from judges and those in attendance, and compete for one of the event’s prizes.

This year, Kasia Drozd, a Master’s student under the supervision of Drs. Lisa Mielniczuk and Jean DaSilva, won the prestigious Servier Award for the Best Basic Science Oral Presentation.

Drozd’s research examined the link between metabolic and functional alterations in the right ventricle of the heart in an animal model of severe pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH). PAH is a condition characterized by progressive vascular changes causing increased pulmonary resistance and eventual right heart failure. Drozd also investigated the effect of a novel treatment, Macitentan, on the development of PAH and right ventricular energetics.

Drozd used serial and non-invasive positron emission tomography (PET) scans to assess right ventricular uptake of 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) and 4-[18F]fluoro-6-thia-heptadecanoate (FTHA), radiolabelled tracers for glucose and fatty acid metabolism respectively. Drozd observed that PAH is associated with an increased fatty acid and glucose utilization with onset of PAH, with a proportionally greater increase in glucose uptake, suggesting an increase in glycolysis (the metabolic process that converts glucose to an energy form that a cell can utilize). Treatment using Macitentan was found to reduce glucose uptake in PAH and significantly correlated with functional data showing an improvement in right ventricular function and hemodynamics. Based on these results, clinical studies evaluating the link between metabolic and functional alterations in PAH, as well as evaluating the effects of therapy targeting these changes, are warranted.

Servier

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AstraZeneca Award

Best Clinical Science/Bio-Behavioural & Population Health Poster

The AstraZeneca Award recognizes the Best Clinical Science/Bio-Behavioural and Population Health Poster at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s 27th Annual Research Day. Each year, trainees in cardiovascular science gather to present and discuss their research with peers and established researchers. The presenters put forth their best performances, showcase their work, answer probing questions from judges and those in attendance, and compete for one of the event’s prizes.

This year, Dr. Stephanie Prince Ware, Postdoctoral Fellow under the supervision of Dr. Bob Reid, won the prestigious AstraZeneca Award for the Best Clinical Science/Bio-behavioural and Population Health Poster.

Dr. Prince Ware’s research focuses on sedentary behaviours (e.g., TV, video games, computer, car, reading) as new emerging risk factors for chronic diseases and premature mortality. Historically, lifestyle interventions have focused mostly on physical activity and diet. As sedentary behaviours have been shown to be risk factors independent of physical activity, it is important that interventions are efficacious in impacting significant and clinically meaningful reductions in these behaviours.

Dr. Prince Ware presented the results of a systematic review that she recently completed. This review examined the effectiveness of interventions with a focus on physical activity and/or sedentary behaviours in reducing time spent being sedentary. It was an opportunity to examine whether interventions require some level of focus on sedentary behaviours to elicit meaningful reductions. In the study, systematic review and meta-analysis were used to explore all current research to date which included 65 controlled studies reporting on sedentary behaviour outcomes. The results revealed that there is evidence to support the need for interventions to include a component focused on reducing sedentary behaviours in order to generate clinically meaningful reductions in sedentary time.

These findings will help to inform future intervention design to improve risk reduction and ultimately enhance patient care.

Dr. Prince Ware currently holds a CIHR Fellowship and a UOHI Strategic Research Endowed Fellowship.

AstraZeneca Award - Best Clinical Science/Bio-Behavioural & Population Health Poster

AstraZeneca

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