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A talented group of researchers, led by PHRI Senior Scientist Guillaume Pare, Director of CRLB-GMEL, are working to discover key genes and biological pathways involved in late-onset diseases, looking at genetic risk of heart attacks, strokes, obesity and dementia, establishing the clinical importance of polygenic risk scores in individuals with premature heart attacks, and more. As well, these investigators have been designing innovation methods and tools that enhance how genes and biomarkers are studied.

Integrating genetic and biomarker measurements to prioritize drug targets, Guillaume Paré and Salim Yusuf created the Biomarker Discovery Partnership Program with Bayer – building on the work of the CRLB-GMEL lab, led by Paré.

They’ve used this approach to characterize new protein drug targets for: atrial fibrillation (Pedrum Shemirani, JACC 2022); type 2 diabetes (Marie Pigeyre, Diabetes Care 2020); stroke (Michael Chong, Circulation, 2019); blood pressure (Sebastian Theriault, Circ Gen 2020); coronary artery disease (Jennifer Sjaarda, JACC 2018); and chronic kidney disease (Sjaarda, JASN 2018).

The Biomarker Discovery Program is assembling a unique multi-omics resource in 12,000 PURE participants including the testing of genomic, epigenomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and lipidomic markers. Sukrit Narula led the primary paper of the Biomarker Discovery Program, showing that circulating levels of ACE2 was a strong biomarker predictive of incident mortality and cardiometabolic disease (Lancet, Jan. 2020).

Method innovation

Paré and his team continue to innovate methods to study genes and biomarkers.

  • Nazia Pathan won the prestigious International Genetic Epidemiology Society’s William Award, 2022, for RARity, a method to estimate the contribution of rare variants genetic coding to complex traits and diseases.
  • Irfan Khan presented on genetically determined adiposity findings at European Association for Studying Diabetes, 2022.
  • Chong created AutoMitoC to derive an emerging mitochondrial biomarker called “mitochondrial DNA copy number” from genetic microarray data (eLife 2022, Neurology 2022).
  • Ricky Lali developed the RV-EXCALIBER method to better study rare genetic variants and their contribution to early-onset disease in the general population (Nature Comm, 2021).
  • Sjaarda invented a framework to quantify the importance of genetic ancestry to disease biomarkers within the ORIGIN trial (AJHG 2020).

For the Rheumatic Heart Disease Genetics (RHDGen) consortium, Tafadzwa Machipisa published their paper describing the first genome-wide association study for RHD in continental Africans (JAMA Cardio 2021). Paré and Chong are working as members of the International Stroke Genetics Consortium to conduct the largest genetic analysis of stroke to date (GIGASTROKE).

Guillaume Paré

Director, CRLB- GMEL; Senior Scientist

Guillaume Paré
Director, CRLB- GMEL; Senior Scientist

Guillaume Paré is Director of the Clinical Research Laboratory and Biobank (CRLB) – Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory (GMEL). He is also Deputy Director of the Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute (TaARI), a Professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, a Professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, and a University Scholar at McMaster University. He holds the Cisco Professorship in Integrated Health Biosystems.

His clinical interests are centered on lipoprotein disorders, obesity and cardiovascular disease prevention, with research interests in cardiovascular genetics, biomarker development and pharmacogenomics. Gui’s research combines high-throughput biomarker screens with genetics, bioinformatics and epidemiology to identify novel cardio-metabolic biomarkers. He has published more than 200 papers and has been cited over 27,000 times.

A medical biochemist with board certification from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Gui completed a Master’s in Human Genetics at McGill University under the supervision of renowned geneticist Thomas Hudson. He further trained in genetic epidemiology with Paul Ridker at Harvard Medical School.

Matthew McQueen

Deputy Director, CRLB-GMEL

Matthew McQueen
Deputy Director, CRLB-GMEL

Matthew McQueen co-founded the Clinical Research Laboratory and Biobank (CRLB) in Hamilton, Canada in 1987. As a physician and Director of the Lipid Research Clinic, his clinical focus has been on lipid disorders, primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, and the investigation of statins, fibrates, and probucol in reducing disease risk. He expanded his clinical research laboratory (then known as CRCTL) to provide analytical support for the large epidemiologic studies and clinical trials from PHRI. To date, he has been the author or coauthor of more than 250 publications.

He has retired as a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University (since 1987) and Director of the Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program and Chief of the Departments of Laboratory Medicine at Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare (since 1998).

He received his medical degree and doctorate from the University of Glasgow. He was recruited to Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia in 1974 and to McMaster University in 1976. In 1981 he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada and in 1984 a Founding Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Clinical Biochemistry.

Jason Roberts

Scientist

Jason Roberts
Scientist

Jason Roberts is a clinical cardiac electrophysiologist at Hamilton Health Sciences and an Associate Professor of Medicine at McMaster University. As a clinician researcher, Jason’s 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. Previously, he worked at the University of Western Ontario as part of the London Heart Rhythm Program, where his research focused on refining insights into the clinical and genetic features of inherited arrhythmia syndromes.

He completed his training in cardiac electrophysiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and his cardiology fellowship at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, during which he worked with Spartan Biosciences to develop the first point-of-care genetic test in clinical medicine (trial results published in The Lancet). He holds a Master’s degree in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics from UCSF.

Matthew Lanktree

Investigator

Matthew Lanktree
Investigator

Matthew Lanktree is a clinical scientist in adult nephrology genetics who cares for patients with chronic and end-stage kidney disease at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Hamilton Health Sciences. He is an Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine (division of nephrology) and Department of Health Research, Methods, Evidence and Impact, at McMaster University. His research areas of interest are: nephrology genetics; cardiovascular disease in patients with chronic kidney disease; dialysis; and polycystic kidney disease.

He obtained a combined MD and PhD at Western University with research in human genetics before residency in internal medicine and nephrology at McMaster University. He then completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in heritable kidney disease at the University of Toronto before returning to McMaster as faculty in 2019. He has published more than 60 articles in high-impact journals in genetics and medicine, and has set his goal to translate genetic studies into improved care of patients with kidney disease.

Marie Pigeyre

Investigator

Marie Pigeyre
Investigator

Marie Pigeyre is an Investigator at PHRI, and Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, McMaster University. She has received peer-reviewed New Investigating Funding from Hamilton Health Sciences, and is supported by the Medicine Internal Career Award from McMaster University.

She completed her clinical and research post-doctoral fellowship in epidemiology, genetics and biomarkers at McMaster University in 2019, preceded by a PhD in Epidemiology and Genetics, medical degree, and endocrinology training at the University of Lille in France (2007).

Michael Chong

Assistant Director, CRLB-GMEL

Michael Chong
Assistant Director, CRLB-GMEL

Michael Chong is Assistant Director of the Clinical Research Laboratory and Biobank (CRLB) – Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory (GMEL). He is also a Research Associate at McMaster University in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. To date, he has published approximately 40 articles related to stroke and cardiovascular disease genetics, mitochondrial genomics, biomarkers, and bioinformatics.

He completed his MSc in Medical Sciences at McMaster University (2012-2014) under the supervision of Guillaume Paré, where he studied the role of rare genetic variants as risk factors for early-onset stroke. From 2015-2017, he worked as a bioinformatician at GMEL and played key roles in the genetic analyses of several PHRI studies including INTERSTROKE and ORIGIN. From 2018-2021, he completed his PhD in Biochemistry at McMaster university, where he integrated genetics and biomarker data to uncover novel drug targets for stroke.

Sukrit Narula

Associate Research Fellow

Sukrit Narula
Associate Research Fellow

Sukrit Narula is currently pursuing his MD at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and his PhD in Health Research Methods program at McMaster University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University. His research involves using biobanks collected as a part of randomized trials and large epidemiologic studies to elucidate the pathophysiology underlying cardiovascular disease.

He is currently doing work on PURE Biomarker, a substudy of the PURE study to understand the prognostic importance of genetics and new serum biomarkers in a global context. Sukrit also has research interests in cardiovascular imaging, vascular disease, evidence-based medicine, and meta-research. He is supervised by Guillaume Pare and Salim Yusuf.

Reina Ditta

Academic & Research Dev. Manager

Reina Ditta
Academic & Research Dev. Manager

Reina Ditta is the Academic and Research Development Manager of the Genetics and Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory (GMEL) – Clinical Research Laboratory and Biobank (CRLB). Previously, she was the lab manager, GMEL, at PHRI.

Reina received her Honours Cell Biology from Western University, her Master’s in Forensic Science from King’s College London, and has more than 11 years of laboratory experience.

Tara Bryce

Operations Manager

Tara Bryce
Operations Manager

Tara Bryce is the Operations Manager for the Clinical Research Laboratory and Biobank (CRLB) and Genetics and Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory (GMEL). A member of the CRLB since 2007, Tara has over 13 years’ experience as a laboratory professional, with expertise in biobanking and clinical research.

Tara holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from McMaster University, and is a Medical Laboratory Technologist registered with the College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario (CMLTO).

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