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CP Has Heart

$3 million. 13 researchers. One bold collaboration.

Heart & Stroke and Canadian Pacific (CP) are working together to save more moments for Canadian families. The company’s community investment program, CP Has Heart, is investing $3 million to fund 13 cardiovascular research projects that will help create longer, healthier futures for Canadian families. Scroll down to meet the researchers.

Canadian Pacific Has Heart logo

About CP Has Heart

CP knows that a railroad may serve as the arteries of a nation, but at its heart is community. That's why through CP Has Heart, they’re improving the heart health of men, women and children across North America. Since its inception, CP Has Heart has committed more than $9 million to heart health initiatives in communities across Canada. 

CP Has Heart Cardiovascular Awards

This partnership, announced in May 2015, will propel the Heart & Stroke mission: to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery.

Boy getting checked by Doctor

CP Has Heart awards fund 13 grants focusing on families

Grant recipients were selected through Heart & Stroke’s world class peer review process. Scroll down for details.

Meet the CP Has Heart researchers


Dr. Subrata Chakrabarti, Western University (Ontario)

Understanding how diabetes damages hearts 

If you have diabetes, getting it under control could help reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies show that diabetes forces the heart to work harder to get the fuel it needs. Left untreated, the heart can become too weak to pump blood. Dr. Chakrabarti’s research will investigate how diabetes damages the heart and could lead to the development of treatments that prevent heart disease in people living with diabetes.

Dr. Vicente Corrales-Medina, Ottawa Health Research Institute 

Treating pneumonia to prevent heart disease

Pneumonia is the most common cause of hospital admissions in North America. Research led by Dr. Corrales-Medina showed that the risk of heart attack and stroke increases significantly in people who have been hospitalized for pneumonia, especially if they’re over 65. Although the link isn’t fully understood, one possible explanation could be inflammation that develops in the arteries after pneumonia. In the next phase of his research, Dr. Corrales-Medina will test if vascular anti-inflammatory medications can help lower inflammation after pneumonia and consequently, reduce cardiovascular risk.  

Dr John Dawson

Dr. John Dawson, University of Guelph (Ontario)

Hunting the cause of a potential killer

When a competitive athlete suddenly collapses and dies, the cause is often hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a thickening of the heart muscle. HCM can develop in people who have an inherited defect in a heart protein called cardiac actin, but we don’t know how or why. Dr. Dawson is working to understand that mechanism, focusing on the interaction between actin and another protein, myosin. His findings could eventually lead to new ways to prevent and treat this life-threatening condition.

Dr John Eikelboom

Dr. John Eikelboom, McMaster University, Hamilton

Creating better outcomes for patients on blood thinners

Blood thinning medications to reduce the risk of clots are routinely used to prevent heart attack and stroke, but they can also cause bleeding. New evidence suggests that bleeding is a strong risk predictor for subsequent heart attack and stroke, the very outcomes that blood thinners are aimed at preventing. Dr. Eikelboom is one of the leaders of the INTERBLEED study, which will identify the risk factors for bleeding in patients receiving these medications, and determine how bleeding leads to cardiovascular events. This information will be used to develop new strategies for preventing heart attack and stroke.

Dr Slava Epelman

Dr. Slava Epelman, University Health Network and University of Toronto

How can we prevent heart damage from viral infections? 

Viral infections can leave the heart damaged and vulnerable to develop heart failure in adults and children, a debilitating chronic medical condition. Dr. Epelman will investigate the role of the heart’s own immune cells in battling viral infections. In particular, he is focusing on how these immune processes may actually contribute to heart damage through inflammation. Better understanding of these processes will lead to new therapies to clear viruses and protect the heart from damage. 

Dr Paul Kubes

Dr. Paul Kubes, Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, University of Calgary

Microscopic technology will reveal keys to preventing blood vessel damage

Damage to the inner lining of blood vessels occurs in many types of cardiovascular disease, yet we don’t fully understand how or why this happens. Dr. Kubes is investigating the potential role of the body’s own defenses in causing this damage. In a first-of-its-kind study, he will use a sophisticated microscope to examine formation of toxic NETs by immune cells inside tiny blood vessels, and develop models to explain the activity. His results could lead to more targeted treatments to prevent blood vessel damage.

Dr Gregoire Le Gal

Dr. Gregoire Le Gal, University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Building a better test to detect dangerous blood clots

When blood clots form in the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis or DVT), a fast, accurate diagnosis is critical to avoid the potentially fatal risk of clots travelling to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). Dr. Le Gal is investigating how the blood test used to detect DVT could be improved by adjusting for the patient’s age. He will test age-adjusted targets for D-dimer, the protein fragment that signals the presence of DVT. A more accurate test will help doctors diagnose and treat clots faster, saving lives and preventing unnecessary blood-thinning therapy for patients who don’t need it.

Dr Shubhayan Sanatani

Dr. Shubhayan Sanatani, University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Heart Centre

Reducing the toll of a deadly heart defect

A heart rhythm disorder known as CPVT can kill as many as half of those who have it by age 30. We know little about it, and who is at highest risk for cardiac arrest and sudden death. Treatments include medication and implantable defibrillators, but both come with high failure rates and complications. Dr. Sanatani is working to understand more about CPVT by establishing a registry of patients including family history and blood samples – the first to address CPVT on a large scale. His goal is to identify those at highest risk and ultimately save lives by developing personalized treatments. 

Richard Schulz

Dr. Richard Schulz, University of Alberta

Targeted drugs could help promote better recovery from heart attack

When blood flow to the heart is blocked in a heart attack, permanent damage can result —both from the blockage and from its removal to restore normal flow (reperfusion injury). Current treatments are not very effective, so a heart attack, even if successfully treated, often leads to a decline in function and eventual heart failure. Dr. Schulz is investigating the role of a protein called MMP-2, which is activated when blood flow is restored, to determine how it contributes to heart injury. These findings could lead to inhibitor drugs that prevent heart failure and save lives. 

Dr Craig Simmons

Dr. Craig Simmons, University of Toronto

Finding a treatment for diseased heart valves 

When heart valves are diseased they stop functioning properly, putting strain on the heart. Dr. Simmons is investigating a potential treatment for valve disease that affects the aorta, the large vessel that carries blood from the heart. Currently there is no treatment except to replace a valve surgically when it fails. Dr. Simmons hopes to determine if a molecule called CNP can help slow the progression of calcific aortic valve disease. The long-term goal is better ways to detect and treat valve disease, improving patients’ quality of life.

Dr Jacob Udell

Dr. Jacob Udell, Women’s College Hospital and Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University of Toronto

Do fertility drugs affect women’s heart health?

More Canadian women are using fertility drugs to get pregnant, yet we know little about their long-term effects. Dr. Udell will study women who fail to get pregnant after fertility treatment, to see if they face a higher risk of health problems including heart disease, stroke or blood clots, compared to women who successfully conceive using drugs. This is the first study of the association between fertility treatment failure and the risk of cardiovascular events.

Dr. Shi Wu

Dr. Shi Wu Wen, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and University of Ottawa 

Could fertility treatments be linked to heart defects in some pregnancies?

Congenital heart defects occur when the heart or nearby blood vessels don't develop normally before birth. They affect about 3,000 pregnancies each year in Canada. Dr. Wen is focusing on mothers who conceive using assisted reproductive technology. He will use data from registries to determine whether babies born to obese mothers are more likely to have congenital heart defects than those born to non-obese mothers. Better understanding of the causes of congenital heart disease will help reduce its impact on children and families.

Dr. Lori West

Dr. Lori West, University of Alberta  

Improving outcomes for heart transplants

Dr. West’s breakthrough 2000 discovery that babies can accept donor hearts with non-compatible blood types means that children who would once have died are today growing up healthy. Her findings showed that babies’ immune systems develop a tolerance to the donor’s blood type. In the next phase of her research, Dr. West is exploring how this tolerance develops and whether it can be applied beyond infants to improve the success rate of heart transplants in adults living with end-stage heart disease.