Adolfo J. de Bold

Adolfo J. de Bold, O.C., Ph.D., F.R.S.C.

I was born in Paraná, Argentina. I undertook my university training at the Faculty of Chemical Sciences at the National University of Córdoba obtaining a professional degree in Clinical Biochemistry in 1968 after residence training in Laboratory Medicine in the Hospital Nacional de Clínicas in Cordoba, where I was Chief Resident. Immediately upon graduating I traveled to Canada for a planned 1-2 years stay but decided to work towards a M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Experimental Pathology at Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario, where I was appointed to academic staff in 1973. The theme of this graduate work was the functional morphology of the mammalian atrial cardiomyocyte.  In particular, the significance of the presence of a highly developed Golgi complex and numerous storage granules whose content and function had defied many cell biologists. This theme was somewhat contrary to the wishes of my supervisor, Dr. Sergio Bencosme, whose expertise was in the endocrine pancreas even though he had delved in the theme of secretory-like differentiations found in the atrial cells.  In any event, he gave me carte blanche to work in this theme and that gave complete liberty to work towards technical solutions needed to investigate this field, free from the pressures associated with publishing.  This work took place between 1969 and 1981 and led to the publication of several investigative techniques that associated the heart with kidney function and to the finding that atrial tissue extracts had the capacity to induce a natriuresis and diuresis when injected into bioassay rats. The response to these injections was so powerful that needed only to be watched to be convinced of the presence of a new biological substance.  Thus the discovery of Atrial Natriuretic Factor: ANF (ANP).  Following the 1981 discovery we isolated and sequenced the cardiac polypeptide hormone by 1983 and hence formally establishing that the heart has an endocrine function. In 1986 I moved to Ottawa to establish the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Research Centre and became his first director.  Recently I became Professor Emeritus of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Ottawa. The work on ANF has been recognized through numerous distinctions and awards.  These include the Gairdner Foundation International Award, The Royal Society of Canada McLaughlin Medal in Medical Research, The Ernest C. Manning Principal Award, The International Society for Hypertension Research Award and the American Society for Hypertension Award, among others. I have also received numerous distinctions in my native country of Argentina. 

The multiple properties of ANF have provided many new avenues of research in cardiovascular physiology as well as in very important clinical entities such as hypertension and heart failure.

Briefly stated, Dr. de Bold work resulted in:

  1. The discovery of a new hormonal system that is one of the most important regulators of cardiovascular homeostasis.

  2. The discovery of the endocrine function of the heart.

    The ANF discovery provided the basis for:

  3. The discovery of a new type of receptor:  the particulated guanylyl cyclase.

  4. The establishment of ANF and BNP upregulation as sensitive, gold standard biomarkers of ventricular hypertrophy and failure.

  5. The use of ANF, BNP and related compound for the treatment of acutely decompensated heart failure.

More than 17,000 scientific papers published to date attest to the importance of the ANF discovery.  We also placed ANF within integrative physiology with several important contributions in prestigious journals such as the definition of the role of ANF in the mineralocorticoid escape phenomenon and the determinants of ANF gene expression in hemodynamic overload.

The discovery of ANF has made us one of the most cited Canadian groups.  Also, the work on ANF was declared the first of the top ten research accomplishments funded by the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation in the past 50 years. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research recently designated the ANF discovery as one of the most important Canadian discoveries in medicine.

I have been very fortunate to be elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, the International Academy for Heart Research, and the American Heart Association and an Officer of the Order of Canada.