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Profile of Carlos Fernandez-Patron, PhD

Carlos Fernandez-Patron
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry
319 Medical Sciences Building
University of Alberta
Edmonton AB  T6G 2H7

Tel: 780.492.9540


We are interested in the mechanisms of cardiovascular disease; in particular, hypertension a condition that affects 25% of the adult population worldwide including industrialized societies.

Over the last few years we have studied a family of proteins: matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), and identified reactions by which MMPs might impact cardiovascular growth as well as vascular tone. These reactions are:

  1. Cleavage and regulation of vasoactive peptide hormones and proteins (such as big endothelin and calicitonin gene related peptide).
  2. Cleavage and regulation of growth factors (such as shedding of heparin-binding EGF).

These reactions are novel in the context of vascular regulation. Moreover, they implicate MMPs in the control of blood pressure as well as development and progression of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure). Interestingly, we have recently discovered that treatment of spontaneously hypertensive rats with an MMP inhibitor and antibiotic, doxycycline, reduces the blood pressure of these rats. These results are exciting as they provide strong evidence suggesting that MMP inhibitors might have therapeutic potential for the management of systemic blood pressure in hypertensive disorders such as human essential hypertension.

The pathogenesis of hypertension is complex as this condition can have environmental and genetic causes. Therefore, the therapy of hypertension remains largely empirical employing drugs or interventions, until reduction of blood pressure is achieved. Given the huge complexity of the processes of vasoregulation in health as well as cardiovascular disease, we are also developing a systems biological approach to the study of hypertension. Our systems biological approach employs proteomics and computation as well as integrative physiology and pharmacology. We are testing the hypothesis that hypertension could result from the perturbation of just a few, yet fundamental, mechanisms of vasoregulation. The scientific challenge we are facing is the identification of these fundamental mechanisms. To address this challenge, we have developed a novel, simple and high-throughput method combining computational analysis (that capitalizes on graph-theoretical operations) and standard proteomics (that capitalizes on the isolation and characterization of protein complexes by ultracentrifugation, gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry). Our laboratory is highly interdisciplinary (involving techniques of integrative physiology, pharmacology, computation and proteomics). As well, we have an active collaboration with computing scientists, computer engineers and mathematicians. Thus, our trainees are cross trained in an exciting environment combining hypothesis-driven as well as discovery√ā¬≠driven research approaches.

We are interested in recruiting people from areas such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, computation and biology for postdoctoral or graduate studies.

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