SFU Canada Research Chairs Seminar Series: "The Molecular Basis of Myocardial Function: Novel Designs to Meet Physiological Challenges and Inherited Errors in Design which Result in Congenital Heart Disease"

Thursday, March 11, 2010
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Glen F. Tibbits
Canada Research Chair in Molecular Cardiac Physiology, Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology


Although the heart is a remarkable organ which has the capability of responding to a wide range of physiological demands over many decades of continuous strenuous effort, its function is often not fully appreciated until it fails. Two critical elements of cardiac cells (cardiomyocytes) are: 1) an elaborate system of electrical signalling comprised of membrane spanning molecules which serve as ion channels and transporters and 2) a contractile system made up of an elegant series of molecular motors. The latter respond to the electrical signalling with a coordinated and highly synchronized generation of cardiomyocyte tension and cell shortening which serves to propel the blood into the circulation. These molecular motors are made of up of contractile proteins which, although being highly conserved throughout vertebrate evolution, have still evolved to meet unique environmental challenges. In humans single point mutations in genes which encode ion channels and molecular motors often result in life threatening cardiac arrhythmias and or cardiomyopathies. The etiology of these diseases will be discussed with an eye to understanding these how these flawed molecular designs affect function and the resultant advanced treatments that are moving into the realm of personalized medicine.

About the Speaker

Glen Tibbits grew up in Montreal and after graduating from McGill University, went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Seemingly paradoxically, he developed a passion for the intricacies of cardiac function while working towards a PhD in the Brain Research Institute at UCLA. Supported by the American Heart Association, Dr. Tibbits set out for Japan to engage in post-doctoral studies in Pharmacology at Niigata Yakka Daigaku and subsequently in Membrane Biophysics back at UCLA. After serving as a faculty member at the UCLA School of Medicine and the University of Washington, he came to Simon Fraser University in 1985 where he is currently Professor of Biomedical Science and Kinesiology and Canada Research Chair in Molecular Cardiac Physiology. He is an Associate member of the departments of Bioscience and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at SFU and an Adjunct member of several departments at UBC including Cellular and Physiological Science. He served as Director of Cardiovascular Sciences at the Child and Family Research Institute from 2000 until 2007 and maintains an active laboratory at that site in which basic scientists from his group engage in multidisciplinary dialog with pediatric cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and other clinicians at BC Children