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New recruit to speak at Tine Haworth Research Day

Submitted by dawn.smith on Mon, 04/03/2017 - 8:50am
Mon, 04/03/2017 - 09:00

Researcher looks at role of intercellular communications in cardiac and vascular disease

Dawn Smith/Libin Institute

Vaibhav Patel, PhD, joined the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta in January 2017.

The basic research scientist and assistant professor in the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine couldn’t be happier to be part of the culture of research that permeates the Libin Institute.

“I am really excited to work here at the Libin Institute because of the excellent team doing cardiovascular research here,” said Patel. “I see a great opportunity to collaborate with clinical and basic researchers here.”

Patel’s research interest is in the role of intercellular communications in cardiac and vascular disease.

Currently, he is studying the role of perivascular adipocyte-secreted exosomes in intercellular communications and modulation of renin-angiotensin system in vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells and their impact on vascular disease.

Patel earned his PhD in pharmacology at M.S. University of Baroda, India in 2011.

Motivated by an interest in cardiovascular translational research, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta investigating the role of ACE2/Ang 1-7 in cardiovascular disease and looked at the potential of enhancing ACE2 as a therapy for diabetic cardiovascular complications. He also investigated the novel role of adverse cytoskeletal remodeling in the progression of heart failure.

When asked about his interest in diabetes, Patel said looking at the disease is important as it is already a global threat, with more than 400 million people currently affected globally. That number is expected to swell to more than 640 million sufferers by 2040.

Heart problems, including heart failure and coronary artery disease, are one of the leading causes of death for diabetic patients, according to Patel.

“[Diabetic vascular disease] is a huge problem, but much of the clinical management still relies on the pharmacological therapeutics that minimally affect vascular repair or regeneration,” said Patel.

Patel said he developed an interest in studying exosomes, small vesicles that contain genetic material and have a role in intercellular transport, as a possible therapy for patients.

Patel explained the idea is to engineer exosomes with a vascular reparative function and directly administer them into the blood stream of diabetic patients suffering with cardiovascular problems with the ultimate goal of tissue regeneration and repair.   

Patel describes his work as “a very ambitious and very long research plan,” explaining the first step is to identify the difference between the exosomes found in healthy individuals and those with heart conditions.

“My intention is to engineer the exosomes with the desired cargo,” he said, explaining when doing basic research, it is important to understand the translational aspect of the work.

Simply put, Patel always aims to keep in mind how his work will help patients.

“If you understand the translational aspect, you can move it over to clinical,” he said.

Patel has earned numerous awards for his work, including national doctoral fellowship, University of Alberta Department of Medicine translational research fellowship, Dr. Francis Witkowski publication award and Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions and Heart and Stroke Foundation postgraduate fellowships, and has published more than 35 peer-reviewed articles and two book chapters.

Patel will be speaking at the Libin Institute's Tine Haworth Cardiovascular Research Day on April 6. For more information, or to register for the event, visit


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