Using Genomics to Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada, claiming more than 33,600 lives per year. Having a family history of early onset heart disease is a major risk factor for developing it. Despite this, few individuals with such a history undergo screening to identify—and potentially treat—modifiable risk factors.
Dr. Liam Brunham, Canada Research Chair in Precision Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, is examining the effect a structured screening program has on identifying patients with a family history of early onset heart disease, so steps can be taken to reduce their risk. His goal is both to decrease the burden of early onset heart disease and shed light on its molecular and genetic causes.
Brunham and his research team are using genetic and genomic tools to better understand the causes of early onset heart disease, as well as inherited disorders of blood cholesterol. They are also using cutting-edge techniques in gene-editing in human stem cells to shed light on how changes in specific genes can alter the response to specific medications.
Ultimately, Brunham’s research could help identify patients at risk for heart disease and provide new tools to determine their risk. It could also change the way we screen for heart disease risk factors, and provide more precise and effective prevention and treatment strategies.