PHRI Scientist Jason Roberts was one of 7 McMaster researchers highlighted yesterday at the CIHR announcement of its $131 million landmark investment in clinical trials.

Roberts received $2.7 million for the clinical trial, Targeted Therapy with Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 Inhibition for Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (TARGETED-ARVC) looking to develop the first therapy for the genetic heart disorder which often manifests as sudden cardiac death in teenagers and people in their 20s.

Left to right: Jason Roberts; Sameer Parpia; PJ Devereaux; Fiona Smaill; Deborah Cook: Kim Lewis; and Bram Rochwerg at the CIHR announcement of its Clinical Trials Fund – the largest such investment in Canadian history – at McMaster University campus.

Roberts notes:

“It can be a helpless feeling to carry a gene for ACM and know that, no matter how you live your life, you will some day develop a deadly form of heart disease. The goal of our research program is to develop an effective medical therapy that is able to prevent the onset of ACM and dramatically improve the lives of thousands of Canadians and their families.”

Awarded the inaugural Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Maud Menten New Principal Investigator Prize in Genetics (2022), Roberts also recently won funding in CIHR’s Spring 2022 Project Grant competition to investigate RYR2-targeted gene therapies for treating an inherited cardiac condition that causes sudden irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) in children and young adults – as well as a substantial CIHR grant for the ACM/ ARVC research program.

A member of PHRI’s arrhythmia research team, Roberts works with PHRI Senior Scientist Guillaume Pare¬†and the genetics research team since his interests focus on the genetics of cardiac arrhythmias, and evaluating the clinical utility of new drugs and gene-based therapies as treatments for both rare and common forms of cardiac arrhythmias.

Roberts is also helping to drive a translational program with international collaborators from basic science, genetics, and clinical medicine – which represents a critical step in moving an innovative scientific discovery from bench to bedside. In this program, he is mentored by PHRI Senior Scientists Stuart Connolly, Jeff Healey, and Salim Yusuf.

PHRI Scientist Jason Roberts (centre) with genetics research colleagues, PHRI Senior Scientist Guillaume Pare and PHRI Scientist Marie Pigyere, at our 20th anniversary research symposium in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in November 2019.


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