The underdeveloped neighbourhoods of India are not known as an inspirational place. And yet, among Mumbai’s overcrowded streets, one of today’s biggest breakthroughs in cardiac research began.
Thanks to your continued support of St-Boniface Hospital Foundation, this breakthrough became a reality here in Winnipeg.
As a Principle Investigator at St-Boniface Hospital’s Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, I study common foods and their compounds to understand how they can protect the heart so we can treat or even prevent cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the world, and is predicted to cause the deaths of 23.3 million people by 2030
My goal is to bring my research from the lab to patients’ bedsides, to help those in need.
My motivation to save lives and improve the health of those living with cardiovascular disease began at the bedside of a very special person: my mother.
Most of my childhood was spent in Mumbai, India where my parents, brother, sister, and I shared a small accommodation with many other families. My parents could not achieve a higher education but saw it as a pathway to a better life for us kids. They put most of their earnings towards our education so we could attend high school and university.
As a student, I watched my hard-working parents begin to suffer from poor health. My dad developed hypertension – known as extremely high blood pressure – which weakened his heart and kidneys. Both of dad’s kidneys failed and he was on dialysis for a long time. Eventually, he died from heart failure.
Mom was diagnosed with diabetes which progressed to more serious symptoms, but it was her heart that ultimately failed. I still remember her lengthy stays in the intensive care unit where my siblings and I kept watch around the clock. As the eldest, I took the night shift, spending many cold nights sleeping on the floor of her room in a hospital crowded with the sick and dying.
Those were hard times. But they also built character and inspired my career
Seeing my parents suffer, I knew that helping people like them was the only thing I wanted to do. Because of continued support from donors like you, I’m able to achieve just that at St-Boniface Hospital.
In 1996, I arrived in Winnipeg to work at the Hospital’s research centre under Dr. Naranjan S. Dhalla, a world leader in cardiac research. In 2004, I began studying resveratrol. You may have heard that drinking red wine – which contains resveratrol – can be good for you. This naturally-occurring compound found in grapes and peanuts is beneficial in preventing and treating many diseases.
Last summer, my colleagues and I published the most successful clinical trial on the benefits of resveratrol in diabetics. Collaborating with Dr. Ali Movahed and his research team in the Middle East – a region with the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world – our study showed resveratrol reduces blood sugar and insulin levels, while increasing HDL or “good cholesterol”. Soon, we will continue our work with the Iranian team, and begin the world’s first clinical trial that will examine the benefits of resveratrol in people with hypertension.
In the lab, we have also proven that resveratrol can limit the harmful growth of the heart which leads to heart failure – a discovery that could change how cardiac disease is prevented and treated.
Together with St-Boniface Hospital cardiologist Dr. Shelley Zieroth and her team, we will begin a clinical trial later this year to try and achieve similar results in resveratrol prescribed to heart failure patients. This study will be the first of its kind in the world.
Your donations to St-Boniface Hospital Foundation made this potentially life-saving research possible, and with your continued support, will help advance our work.
It is my hope that resveratrol will become part of the standard medication for people suffering from diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure. Though my research couldn’t save my parents, I know they would be proud to see its potential to help so many in our community.
It is my honour to personally thank you for supporting my research, and the work of many other world-leading cardiac scientists at St-Boniface Hospital. Please help us secure hope for the future through research by making a donation to St-Boniface Hospital Foundation.
Dr. Thomas Netticadan
Principal Investigator, Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, St-Boniface Hospital
Adjunct Professor, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba
Dr. Thomas Netticadan Principal Investigator, Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, St-Boniface Hospital Adjunct Professor, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba