Prof. Tami Martino

Prof. Tami Martino, a University of Guelph researcher investigating new treatments for heart disease using circadian biology, has been awarded the Distinguished Chair in Molecular Cardiovascular Research.

A professor in the Ontario Veterinary College’s (OVC) Department of Biomedical Sciences and founding director of U of G’s Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations (CCVI), Martino applies circadian biology – the body’s 24-hour sleep and wake cycle – to clinical cardiology. She is a recognized pioneer in the emerging field of circadian medicine.

Her research has helped in understanding how our molecular circadian clock mechanism regulates cardiovascular health and disease – the leading cause of death worldwide – and how these interactions translate into clinical applications for treating heart disease.

“This is an overdue recognition of Professor Martino’s research excellence and her leadership of the Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations,” said Jeffrey Wichtel, dean of OVC. “She is changing the way we approach medicine. Circadian medicine has broad applications both in Tami’s primary field of cardiovascular research and far beyond.”

Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research), said, “Tami Martino’s groundbreaking research helps to make U of G a leader in furthering our understanding and use of circadian medicine to improve lives for people here in Canada and worldwide.”

Her research team investigates how circadian dysregulation drives heart diseases, including myocardial infarction (heart attack), hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. The group also examines how to use the heart’s circadian biology to help in healing, including slowing or reversing damage.

“My research program is focused on translating fundamental knowledge about the circadian biology of the cardiovascular system into clinical applications,” said Martino.

Those applications include chronotherapy (timing of therapy) to improve efficacy of heart medications, circadian lighting in intensive care units to improve patient healing, and novel pharmacology targeting the circadian clock mechanism to prevent scarring after a heart attack and to protect against heart failure.

While focused on new treatments for cardiovascular disease, her findings can also be applied to wide-ranging clinical conditions in humans and companion animals.

She heads the CCVI, whose 15 faculty members and hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students have pursued basic cardiovascular research to clinical translation.

“This chair will deepen and expand our research program, allowing us to pursue broader goals, provide opportunities to the next generation of young STEM innovators, and develop new technologies for health sciences research at U of G,” she said.

Martino joined U of G in 2009. A career investigator of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada in Circadian Medicine and Heart Health, she receives research funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.