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By Michelle Osmond

Dr. Bruno Stuyvers’ goal is to save thousands of Canadians who suffer a heart attack; many of those in Newfoundland and Labrador where the rate of heart attacks is the highest in the country. Dr. Stuyvers is one of many Memorial researchers benefiting from the latest round of Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awards.

Understanding heart attacks, wireless communications and cold ocean ecology are just a few of the research areas getting a boost at Memorial. The CFI recently approved $1,126,608 to support 11 Memorial infrastructure projects under its Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF) and Infrastructure Operating Fund (IOF).

According to Dr. Stuyvers, cardiovascular diseases accounted for about 75,000 deaths in Canada in 2002 with 54 per cent due to myocardial infarctions. Dr. Stuyvers, who is an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine, plans to use his portion to try and understand the development of lethal arrhythmias associated with heart attacks. “People going through a severe heart attack, or myocardial infarction, show a high risk for a lethal type of arrhythmias called Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardias or PVTs. Because the PVTs, frequently lead to ventricular fibrillation, a stage where the heart is unable to pump the blood anymore, these arrhythmias are the primary cause of death during or shortly after heart attacks,” explained Dr. Stuyvers.

By understanding the reasons that cause the PVTs Dr. Stuyvers and his team hope to help in the design of specific anti-arrhythmic drugs and new emergency procedures. “The ultimate goal of this research is to provide tools that would stop instantaneously the development of the arrhythmia before ventricular fibrillation appears during the heart attack and protect the patient against potential recurrent PVTs during the days following the heart attack.”

“Investing in cutting-edge labs, equipment, and technology has transformed Canada’s research landscape over the past decade,” said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the CFI. “The CFI keeps pace with this transformation to ensure Canadian research institutions and their researchers remain world class.” CFI is making a $45-million investment under its LOF to 44 universities across the country, a program that was designed to provide infrastructure to attract researchers to Canadian institutions at a time of intense international competition for knowledge workers.

Additional CFI awards

• Drs. Mohamed Ahmed and Octavia Dobre, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science – Advanced Wireless Communication Research Lab

• Dr. Christina Thorpe, Department of Psychology – Animal Memory and Cognition Lab

• Dr. Lihong Zhang, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science – Computer-Aided Design Laboratory for Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI Systems

• Dr. Marcel Musteata, School of Pharmacy – Development of a Pharmaceutical Analysis Laboratory for Pharmacokinetic Studies

• Dr. Patrick Gagnon, Ocean Sciences Centre – Equipment to support cold ocean benthic ecological research

• Dr. Craig Purchase, Department of Biology – Fish Ecology Research Laboratory

• Dr. Chris Kozak, Department of Chemistry – Laboratory for Organometallic Synthesis and Catalysis

• Dr. Abir Igamberdiev, Department of Biology – Research Laboratory of Plant Metabolism

• Dr. Jacqueline Vanderluit, Faculty of Medicine – The role of cell survival genes in promoting neural regeneration

• Dr. Rodney Russell, Faculty of Medicine – Viral and cellular determinants of hepatitis C assembly