On Jan. 23, 2017, world-renowned cardiovascular researcher Professor Eric N. Olson PhD, was the sixth recipient of the Libin/AHFMR prize for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research at the University of Calgary.
This prize is awarded to an outstanding international researcher whose work is deemed to have had a major impact on the understanding, prevention, recognition or treatment of cardiovascular disease.
As professor and founding chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Texas’s Southwestern Medical Center, Olson has been studying muscle cells as a model for understanding how stem cells adopt specific fates and how programs of cell differentiation and morphogenesis are controlled during development.
He delivered a lecture on “Correction of Muscle Disease by Genomic Editing,” telling the audience about his research in the field of gene editing.
Olson detailed how he and his team of researchers worked towards correcting the genes responsible for certain forms of muscular dystrophy, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
DMD is a severe type that affects about 1 in 5,000 males, and cardiac arrhythmia is one of the leading causes of death in these patients.
The results of this work is encouraging.
Olson said permanent correction of disease-causing mutations is possible. In principle, this can be achieved in just one treatment with the potential to correct up to 80 per cent of DMD mutations.
Olson believes gene editing will change the future of precision medicine and genetic disorders in general.
He said that the pace of technological advance in this area has been breathtaking.
The lecture was preceded by a reception in the HRIC Atrium of the Health Science Centre, attended by numerous members of the Libin Institute.
In addition to Olson, the list of notables in attendance included Pam Valentine PhD, transition CEO of Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, Alvin Libin OC, LLD (honoris causa), founding donor of the Institute, and Dr. Jon Meddings, Dean of the Cummings School of Medicine.