Naranjan S. Dhalla

Naranjan S. Dhalla

After obtaining MS degree at the University of Pennsylvania and PhD degree at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as serving as Assistant Professor at the St. Louis University for 2 years, he joined the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1968.  He progressed through academic ranks and was appointed as Professor in 1974 and Distinguished Professor in 1995. He has been investigating the cardiovascular pathophysiology and pharmacology and has published 611 full length papers in referred journals and 174 review articles in books and monographs. His research work has been cited more than 16,000 times in the literature.

He was one of the first investigators in the world to identify membrane defects during the development of heart disease.  By employing different experimental models such as genetic cardiomyopathy, catecholamine cardiomyopathy, infective cardiomyopathy, diabetic cardiomyopathy and ischemic cardiomyopathy, he provided evidence for the occurrence of subcellular remodeling in heart failure and for establishing the concept regarding the subcellular and molecular basis of cardiac dysfunction.

He carried out seminal research work to reveal the role of oxidative stress and intracellular Ca2+-overload in inducing ischemia-reperfusion injury. He was first to demonstrate the presence of a novel Ca2+-Mg2+ ectoATPase in cardiac cell membrane and suggested its function in eliciting intracellular Ca2+-overload in heart disease. He has also shown the involvement of oxidation products of catecholamines in the genesis of cardiac arrhythmias due to stress induced heart disease.

He has trained 59 MSc and PhD students, 49 postdoctoral fellows and 36 visiting scientists in the field of experimental cardiology.  They are actively engaged in cardiovascular research, education and administration at various levels all over the world.  He is known for his dedication to inspire young investigators and promote their professional careers.  In view of his excellent record in cardiovascular research and training, St. Boniface Hospital Research Foundation has established Naranjan Dhalla Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences.

The first Centre of Excellence in Heart Research by the Medical Research Council of Canada was established in 1978 under his direction.  He served as Founding Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (formerly known as Division of Cardiovascular Sciences) at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre for 19 years during 1987-2006.  He recruited several highly talented investigators for building a multidisciplinary program in research and education in Winnipeg, which is recognized as one of the premier institutes in biomedical sciences.

He has given 332 symposia talks at various national and international conferences on the pathogenesis and therapeutics of heart disease.  He has also been invited to deliver 140 lectures at different institutions in the world to promote the scientific basis for the practice of cardiovascular medicine.  He has always emphasized the importance of translational research and need for newer approaches for the prevention of heart disease.

In order to enhance the profile of the Canadian cardiovascular community, he in his capacity as Chairman, organized 12 cardiovascular conferences in Winnipeg, which were attended by 300 to 2,000 participants each.  In addition, he served as member of the organization committees or advisory boards for 112 international conferences in biomedical sciences.  He also edited 50 books on the pathophysiology and therapy of heart disease for the benefit of young investigators and scientists in the developing world.

He is one of the longest serving Editor-in-Chief of an international journal “Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry” for the past 28 years.  He built this 600 page quarterly journal into a 3600 page monthly publication by Springer, New York.  He, as Associate Editor for 26 years, also played a critical role in the development of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, which is now the official journal of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

He promoted the development of the International Society for Heart Research (formerly known as the International Study Group for Research in Cardiac Metabolism) for the exchange of scientific information and to promote research collaborations.  He served this organization for 26 years in his capacity as Secretary General for 17 years and then as President-Elect, President and Past-President for 9 years.  He established the Richard Bing Award for Young Investigators and the Peter Harris Award for Established Scientists in this Society, which awards have become highly prestigious.

He founded the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences for the promotion of cardiovascular education and prevention of heart disease.  Since 1996, he has been serving as Executive Director of the Academy, which has membership based under seven regions namely North American, South American, European, Indian, Japanese, Russian and Chinese sections. The Academy recognizes the achievements of distinguished scientists by bestowing Medals of Merit, several Named Awards and Fellowships in addition to holding different young investigator award competitions throughout the world annually.

His academic and professional achievements as well as services to cardiovascular community have been recognized by 177 honours and awards from various organizations and institutions around the globe.  In particular, he is a member of the Order of Canada, Order of Manitoba and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  He has been awarded Honorary Doctorate Degree from 6 universities and Honorary Professorship from 4 universities.  He has been inducted into the Citizens Hall of Fame in Winnipeg and he is recipient of the Life-time Achievement Award of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society as well as Medal of Honour of the Canadian Medical Association.