Dr. William R. Driedzic
Canada Research Chair in Marine Bioscience
Achievements: Former director, Ocean Sciences Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland; former Scientific Director of AquaNet -- Network of Centres of Excellence in Aquaculture; co-chairs an NSERC Grant Selection Committee; internationally recognized in the field of fish physiology.
Research involves: Studies of how fish deal with such major environmental challenges as low temperature and oxygen limitation.
Research relevance: Will have direct implication in aquaculture for such questions as rearing temperatures, minimum oxygen levels, and appropriate nutrients.
From the heart of a fish
As one of Canada’s leading fish physiologists, Dr. William R. Driedzic has been the prime proponent of the fish heart model for studies of the control of energy metabolism and biochemical adaptations. He studies fish hearts not because the tissue is singularly important, but because it provides a vehicle for investigating the full range of levels of organization from whole animal to molecular biology.
The research Dr. Driedzic will undertake as Canada Research Chair in Marine Bioscience will study the effects of temperature extremes and oxygen limitation on fish metabolism, and assess the protein synthesis in free living fish.
There are three major themes for the research. The first is related to the activation of metabolic pathways at low temperature, which includes the study of mechanisms of heart hypertrophy and mitochondrial proliferation, and of glycerol production by rainbow smelt at low temperature. The second phase examines two aspects of adaptation to oxygen availability: one examines the myoglobin function under physiological conditions of heart rate and low PO2, and the other probes the control of glycolysis in hypoxic fish hearts. The third theme of his research is an assessment of protein synthesis in free living fish.
Dr. Driedzic’s work will provide insights that can be applied and transferred to the aquaculture industry within a year or two. In the longer term, the work sets the foundation for applied biotechnology especially as it relates to the designing of fish for better growth and viability.
The proposed work will not only contribute to marine biotechnology but has the potential to benefit human health as well. For example, it could help enhance the survival of tissue subjected to oxygen limitation in a clinical setting (e.g. heart surgery) or in a diseased state (e.g. myocardial ischemia).