Scientists turn on the 'gender lens' on cardiovascular disease research

12/10/04



Dr. Sonia Anand, GRACE Network team leader, and associate professor in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine of the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. She holds the Eli Lilly Canada - May Cohen Chair in Women's Health at McMaster University and is a recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Clinician-Scientist Award. As well, Dr. Anand is director of the vascular medicine clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences.
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Hamilton, ON (Dec. 8, 2004) - Hamilton health scientists are turning the "gender lens" on the different ways women and men are affected by cardiovascular disease.

A team of clinician-investigators jointly affiliated with McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences has formed the GRACE or Gender Research and Cardiovascular Evaluation Network. The goal of the network is to perform high quality gender-based research in cardiovascular disease, train new researchers and ensure the research results are widely available and accessible to the Canadian public.

The network team leader is Dr. Sonia Anand, an associate professor in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine of the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. She holds the Eli Lilly Canada - May Cohen Chair in Women's Health at McMaster University and is a recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Clinician-Scientist Award. As well, Dr. Anand is director of the vascular medicine clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences.

GRACE investigators will focus specifically on two areas: acute coronary syndrome and the metabolic syndrome, also known as type-2 diabetes linked with abdominal obesity.

"We will focus on assessing epidemiological studies and clinical trials in these two important problem areas," said Dr. Anand. "We will be analyzing data with a gender lens, asking questions such as 'Is it appropriate that women with heart disease receive fewer angiograms, compared to men?'"

Another emphasis for the network is to ensure the study results are widely communicated to a broad national audience.

"We want to get the health message out to people so they are aware and can make use of it," Dr. Anand said. "We usually only publish our papers in scientific journals and sometimes the message doesn't get out in a simple, usable way."

In a bid to enhance the transfer of knowledge from the scientific community to the general public, Dr. Anand has formed an advisory board, chaired by Maureen McTeer, which will assist with generating novel approaches to communicating research findings. McTeer is a prominent Canadian lawyer with expertise in medical and reproductive health issues. Other members of the advisory board include former Hamilton MP Sheila Copps, CTV medical correspondent Avis Favaro, Dr. May Cohen and Murray Martin, President and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences.

The advisory board is holding its first meeting at McMaster University on Thursday, Dec. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Dr. Anand was awarded about $1 million over five years by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation to establish the GRACE Network. Clinician-scientists involved in the network include Dr. Salim Yusuf, Professor Heather Arthur, Dr. Stefan Blankenberg, Dr. Hertzel Gerstein, Dr. Eva Lonn, Dr. Madhu Natarajan and Dr. Shamir Mehta.

John Capone, associate dean, research, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, said: "The crucial importance of gender differences in disease development, treatment, diagnosis and prevention is becoming increasingly recognized, and the medical research community is focusing much needed attention on this area. The research being led by Dr. Anand will benefit the health of all Canadians as it will lead to a better understanding of gender-based differences in cardiovascular disease and diabetes and, of equal importance, will communicate the knowledge gained to the medical community and to the public."

Hamilton Health Sciences President Murray Martin said: "I am very pleased to be asked to sit on the advisory board with Ms. McTeer and others as this is very important research that needs to be done. Our family of hospitals is wholeheartedly committed to equity and equality. Some issues, to be properly dealt with from a policy perspective, must first be looked at through the lens of research."

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