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Congratulations to Dr. Navid Koleni [Left] and Ms. Chantal Asselin (Msc) candidate [Right] on being awarded $17,000 BMO Scholarships, for research excellence reflected by the students’ academic record, publications and research ability.

The St. Boniface Hospital Foundation and BMO Financial Group established the BMO Financial Group Research Scholarship for Excellence in 2013. Funds for the scholarships were made possible by a $250,000 gift from BMO Financial Group with a $250,000 matching grant from St. Boniface Hospital Foundation. The scholarship supports students employed at the I.H. Asper Clinical Research Institute or the MacLean Building at St. Boniface Hospital Research during their graduate studies.

About their research:

Increased intraventricular pressure (for example due to aortic valve stenosis or hypertension) can lead to cardiac enlargement and eventually heart failure. A definite understanding of the mechanisms and also approaches to mitigate its complications are yet to be elucidated. Dr. Koleini is studying the roles of the FGF-2 protein with two functionally distinct isoforms, in cardiac response to increased intraventricular pressure caused by trans-aortic ligation. His studies are intended to expand knowledge on the biological activities of FGF-2 isoforms in the setting of cardiac pathology, and may set the stage for antibody-based therapies aiming to attenuate mortality in heart failure patients and increase their quality of life.

Cardio-Oncology is an evolving discipline that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and management of cancer patients who are at risk of developing heart problems as a result of their cancer treatment. As breast cancer remains a significant clinical problem, chemotherapy continues to be a routine treatment strategy for this patient population. Doxorubicin and Trastuzumab are two of the most effective anti-cancer drugs available for women with breast cancer. However, these two anti-cancer drugs may lead to heart failure in as many as 8000 Canadian women annually. Dietary interventions represent another complementary approach for the treatment of women with breast cancer. Approximately 30% of breast cancer patients use flaxseed. Ms. Asselin and her research team will explore the means by which flaxseed can prevent the anti-cancer drugs Doxorubicin and Trastuzumab from damaging the heart in the breast cancer setting. The results of this program will have a significant impact on improving the cardiovascular outcomes in women with breast cancer in Manitoba.