Biology professor explores mechanisms of heart failure with new research award

Gary Sweeney
Gary Sweeney
Gary Sweeney

Biology Professor Gary Sweeney in the Faculty of Science at York University has received a Mid-Career Investigator Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada to explore the mechanisms of heart failure.

About 600,000 Canadians are living with heart failure, and the disease is only expected to rise as more people survive heart attacks and other heart conditions and continue to live longer. Better ways of diagnosing and treating the disease are needed.

Sweeney’s research is focused on understanding the role of two hormones—adiponectin and lipocalin-2—in the development and progression of heart failure.

“Adiponectin and lipocalin-2 have opposing effects on the heart: the former has a protective effect against heart failure, while the latter induces heart failure,” says Sweeney. “The mechanisms of their actions are still unclear though.”

Sweeney and his team will explore two hypotheses related to how adiponectin might be protecting the heart: by stimulating an intracellular degradation process that maintains cellular homeostasis, or by attenuating inflammation. He will also investigate the effects of a recently discovered molecule that mimics adiponectin – which is of interest to the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, he will examine whether or not lipocalin-2 might be inducing cardiac dysfunction by causing inflammation.

“This research might provide insights into potential diagnostic or therapeutic strategies,” adds Sweeney.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation Mid-Career Investigator Award provides salary support to promising mid-career scientists to facilitate and build upon their track record of research excellence, productivity and influence in cardiovascular disease research.