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With stiff competition from prestigious international universities and research centres, two St. Boniface Hospital Research members each won a major award at the American Heart Association’s 2022 Scientific Sessions, held earlier this month in Chicago.

Dr. Inna Rabinovich-Nikitin is the winner of the Louis N. and Arnold M. Katz Basic Science Research Prize for Early Career Investigators competition by the American Heart Association’s Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences (BCVS).  She is also the first Canadian to win this highly coveted award, historically recognizing research involving biochemical, cellular, molecular, and genetic sciences, and now includes whole animal studies, especially those related to the creation of new genetic lines. Rabinovich-Nikitin is a Principal Investigator, Women’s Heart Health and Cardiometabolic Function at the the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Assistant Professor Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

Weiang Yan, a PhD student from Dr. Sanjiv Dhingra’s laboratory is the winner of the Vivien Thomas Early Career Investigator Award which acknowledges the accomplishments of early career investigator members of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia (CVSA) with a focus on fundamental and applied surgical research.

“It’s incredible to have two winners of these major AHA awards be awarded to SBRC members,” said Dr. Lorrie Kirshenbaum, Director, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, and Professor Department of Physiology & Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of Manitoba. “It speaks volumes to the high-level training and rich research environment in our laboratories here at the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre.”

Chicago, IL – AHA 2022 – Scientific Sessions is the leading cardiovascular meeting for basic, translational, clinical and population science, in the United States, with cardiovascular experts from around the world attending the meeting. Photos by © AHA/Scott Morgan 2022

Rabinovich-Nikitin received the award following the presentation of her proposal, ‘Shift Work Disrupts Circadian Rhythm and Mitochondrial Quality Control in the Heart,’ saying, “I am earnestly grateful for the recognition I have received for this work, which was carried out during my CIHR funded postdoctoral fellowship under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Lorrie Kirshenbaum. I am proud to be the first Canadian to have ever received this award and hopeful that it will open new avenues of research in the field of Women’s Heart Health and Circadian Biology in Canada and worldwide.”

Yan received the award, named in honour of Dr. Vivien T. Thomas, for his project on the application of Next-generation MXene nanomaterials in preventing allograft vasculopathy after heart transplantation. After an organ transplant, patients have to take anti-rejection pills for the rest of their lives, which come with serious side effects. Anti-rejection drugs suppress immune responses to keep the body from rejecting the new organ.

“But with MXene nanomaterials that we have produced in our laboratory this could be a thing of the past,” said Dr. Sanjiv Dhingra, Principal Investigator, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, and Associate Professor Department of Physiology & Pathophysiology, University of Manitoba.

Using immuno-engineering-based approaches, the Dhingra lab has created an intrinsically immunomodulatory material, titanium carbide MXene nanosheets which is able to stop body’s automatic immune response. Dhingra Lab’s application for a US patent was recently approved which confirms their claim of novel immunomodulatory properties of MXene and first application of this material in preventing rejection of transplanted donor organs by recipient immune system.

“This is very exciting and speaks about the quality of research being conducted at the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre. I want to congratulate both Rabinovich-Nikitin and Yan for winning these prestigious awards,” Dhingra added.

Weiang Yan was equally thrilled, “I am extremely honoured to be receiving this prestigious award for the work that we have accomplished on the immunomodulatory effects of MXene nanomaterials. I am grateful to the supervision and mentorship of Drs. Sanjiv Dhingra and Rakesh C. Arora, and the funding and support provided by the University of Manitoba Clinician Investigator Program and the CIHR fellowship. I am hopeful that the training I received at the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre and Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences will help be succeed in both ongoing and future translational and applied surgical research.”

Congratulations to both winners!