Research | Queen’s University Canada

Colin Funk

Colin Funk

Understanding how blood vessels, the heart and inflammation processes function in healthy people and in subjects with heart disease: this research will lead to increased insight into the pathways that regulate the cardiovascular system and to potential new strategies for treating heart disease.

[Dr. Colin Funk]
Former Canada Research Chair in Molecular, Cellular, and Physiological Medicine
Tier 1

How our “living pipes” work

René Descartes, the 17th century French philosopher and student of the human body, believed that veins and arteries were the “pipes” that carried blood to and from the heart. They were seen only as conduit tubes back then, but we now know that they are intricate “living pipes” with different layers and cell types, and the ability to coordinate and control blood pressure and well-being to the whole body.

Dr. Colin Funk, Canada Research Chair in Molecular, Cellular and Physiological Medicine, is studying how these “living pipes” or blood vessels function in normal health and in disease. Fatty build up forming plaque within the vessel wall (atherosclerosis) occurs over many years and leads eventually to rupture and heart attacks. The largest artery in the body, the aorta, can sometimes bulge (aortic aneurysm) and eventually rupture, with catastrophic consequences. Funk is exploring the signalling pathways in these various disorders.

Specific lipid mediators (chemical messengers that are released in response to tissue injury) that are made by blood vessels and from white blood cells can control normal homeostasis (ability of cells to maintain internal balance). They can also control how much inflammation occurs in the heart during atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysm.

Funk’s research will lead to better understanding of how the vessels function and adapt in health and disease. His research could also lead to new drug strategies to combat the devastating effects of heart attacks and aneurysms.