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Dr. Naranjan S. Dhalla

Dr. Naranjan S. Dhalla

Principal Investigator
Experimental Cardiology, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences

Distinguished Professor, Max Rady College of Medicine

Professor of Physiology and Pathophysiology, University of Manitoba

Senior Fellow, Centre for the Advancement of Medicine

Research Focus

The Experimental Cardiology Laboratory is engaged in studying the pathophysiology and pharmacotherapy of congestive heart failure, ischemia-reperfusion injury and diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy. Our objective is to understand the molecular and subcellular basis of cardiac dysfunction in experimental animals with or without various drug treatments. Furthermore, we wish to identify new targets for discovering improved therapies for the treatment of heart disease. In particular, we are focused to examine the renin-angiotensin system, sympathetic nervous system, oxidative stress, intracellular Ca2+-overload and subcellular remodelling for the transition of cardiac adaptation (hypertrophy and dilation) to maladepletion (cardiac dysfunction and heart failure).

Why is this work important?

In view of the fact that heart disease is the major killer and the currently available medications are not satisfactory, our research is of critical importance for defining the exact molecular defects in cardiac dysfunction and improving drug therapy.

What techniques and equipment are used in this laboratory?

Our laboratory uses experimental models of heart failure due to myocardial infarction and volume load, isolated heart preparations for ischemia-reperfusion injury, and rat cardiomyopathy for type I and type II diabetes. Cardiomyocyte preparations are used for studying intracellular Ca2+-handling as well as protein and gene expression in addition to β-adrenoceptor mediated signal transduction mechanisms. Different subcellular organelles such as sarcolemma, sarcoplasmic reticulum, myofibrils and mitochondria are used for studying subcellular remodelling and molecular abnormalities.

About Dr. Naranjan S. Dhalla

Dr. Dhalla has published more than 664 full-length papers in refereed journals and 198 papers in books and monographs. His research work has been cited more than 31,886 times (h-index of 83) and he edited 65 books on various aspects of the cardiovascular system. He has been an invited speaker at more than 385 national and international conferences and 150 institutions. Dr. Dhalla has trained more than 166 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists. In his capacity as Secretary General and President of the International Society for Heart Research, he was engaged in promoting the scientific basis of cardiovascular medicine for 25 years. He has been Editor-in-Chief of a major international journal “Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry” for the past 35 years and is also serving as Executive Director of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences since 1996. He has received 209 honours and awards from all over the world including MD/DSc Honorary Degrees from 6 Institutions and Honorary Professorship from 4Universities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame as well as the Winnipeg Citizen Hall of Fame. 

Dhalla is Honorary Life President of the IACS and is serving as Distinguished Professor, University of Manitoba and Director of Cardiovascular Developments at the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

For more information, contact:

Naranjan S. Dhalla, MD (Hon), DSc (Hon), FRSC
Distinguished Professor and Director of Cardiovascular Developments
Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences
St. Boniface Hospital Research
351 Tache Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R2H 2A6 Canada

Tel. (204) 235-3417
Fax. (204) 233-0347

In Detail

Cardiac Hypertrophy and Congestive Heart Failure

Any time the heart is presented with an extraordinary load, it responds by becoming bigger or hypertrophic. Up to a point, this is a healthy process, but beyond that point it becomes pathological, leading to congestive heart failure. Dr. Dhalla believes that remodelling of subcellular organelles begins at the time of hypertrophy and it is this restructuring that interferes with calcium handling and oxidative stress and eventually leads to heart failure. He further hypothesizes that interventions that improve heart function do so by affecting gene expression in such a way that this remodelling is prevented. Currently, the mechanisms by which drugs improve heart function are not understood. If these secrets can be uncovered, more precisely targeted therapies can be developed.

Understanding Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury

In ischemic heart disease, an obstruction in arterial blood supply reduces the levels of oxygen available to the tissue. Restoring the flow, or reperfusion can be accomplished in a variety of ways – balloon angioplasty, clot-dissolving drugs or bypass surgery. If reperfusion occurs within a certain time frame, it is usually successful. However, if that time frame is passed, reperfusion can have a negative effect known as the “stunning” of the myocardium. When this occurs, recovery can be slow or tenuous. Dr. Dhalla’s laboratory has determined that oxygen free radicals formed during the reperfusion are responsible and different antioxidant drugs can solve the problem.

Heart Dysfunction in Diabetes

Dr. Dhalla’s laboratory has demonstrated that heart dysfunction in chronic diabetics is linked to oxidative stress. In oxidative stress, a number of mechanisms which regulate calcium become unbalanced. Calcium regulation is vital to the proper contraction and relaxation of the heart’s muscle cells and thus, abnormalities in calcium handling are intimately associated with heart dysfunction. Accordingly, drugs are being developed with calcium regulatory targets in mind for the treatment of diabetes-induced heart disease. Recently, Dr. Dhalla has identified a new mechanism for the entry of calcium into the cardiac cell. This target has helped him to discover two novel interventions for reducing arrhythmias, infarct size and mortality due to heart attacks which are associated with chronic diabetes.

Selected Publications:

Dhalla NS, Shah AK, Tappia PS. Role of oxidative stress in metabolic and subcellular abnormalities in diabetic cardiomyopathy. Int J Mol Sci. 21(7): 2413 doi:10.3390/ijms21072413, 2020

Shah AK, Bhullar SK, Elimban V, Dhalla NS, Oxidative stress as a mechanism for functional alterations in cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure, Antioxidants, 10(6); 931, doi: 10.3390/antiox10060931, 2021

Shah AK, Dhalla NS. Effectiveness of some vitamins in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: A narrative review. Front. Physiol., 12:729255, doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.729255, 2021

Dhalla NS, Elimban V, Bartekova M and Adameova A. Involvement of oxidative stress in the development of subcellular defects and heart disease. Biomedicines, 10:393, doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10020393, 2022

Dhalla NS, Shah AK, Adameova A, Bartekova M. Role of oxidative stress in cardiac dysfunction and subcellular defects due to ischemia-reperfusion injury. Biomedicines, 10, 1473., 2022 

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Dr. Naranjan S. Dhalla has received more than 209 honours and awards from all over the world. These include the Order of Canada, Order of Manitoba, Order of the Buffalo Hunt from the Province of Manitoba, Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, Medal of Honour of the Canadian Medical Association, Research Achievement Award of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Chair in Cardiovascular Research and Honorary Professorship at different Universities.

Dr. Dhalla was elected 2nd Greatest Manitoban of All Time and was featured in “Greatest Manitobans”, a book published by the Winnipeg Free Press. For more information on the book, click here.