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Mark Canney, PhD

Award:  KRESCENT New Investigator Award
Institution:  Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Year:  2022-2025

Study title:  Improving Cardiovascular Risk Stratification in Glomerular Disease

Dr. Mark Canney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, Associate Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and Staff Nephrologist at The Ottawa Hospital. He completed his undergraduate medical degree at National University of Ireland Galway and undertook his internal medicine and nephrology training in Ireland. He completed a Ph.D. in Population Health Epidemiology at Trinity College Dublin in 2017 before moving to Canada to pursue a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of British Columbia under the mentorship of Dr. Adeera Levin and Dr. Sean Barbour. It was there that he cultivated his research interests in the epidemiology of glomerular disease and refining our understanding of clinical outcomes in patients with different types of kidney disease. With the support of the KRESCENT program, Dr. Canney seeks to improve the awareness, assessment and management of cardiovascular risk among patients with glomerular disease.

Lay Summary
What is the purpose of my research? Glomerular diseases are conditions where the body’s immune system attacks and damages the filters of the kidney leading to an increased risk of kidney failure. Compared to other types of kidney disease, people with glomerular disease are often younger and little is known about other long-term health consequences of their disease. My previous research showed that cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes are up to 4 times more likely in people with glomerular disease compared to the general population. The proposed research aims to develop a way to accurately identify people with glomerular disease who are at high risk for a heart attack, and look deeper into why this occurs, in order to improve the overall health of people living with glomerular disease. How will I perform this research? There are 3 steps to this research program. First, we want to find out if the most commonly used risk prediction tool for heart disease (the Framingham model) works well in people with glomerular disease, and then update it as needed by adding kidney-specific factors. This step will involve a large group of patients with glomerular disease in British Columbia. The second step is to confirm that the updated risk tool still works well when it is used in a different group of patients with the same glomerular diseases in Ottawa, Ontario. Third, in order to better understand why people with glomerular disease are at such a high risk of developing heart disease, we will work with basic scientists in Ottawa to analyze blood samples from patients with glomerular disease to measure the health of their blood vessels. Patient partners will be involved in all aspects of developing this study. What do I expect to find? Based on our previous studies, we are confident that the Framingham risk tool will under-estimate the risk of heart disease in people with glomerular disease, and that we can improve its accuracy by making it more kidney-specific. By measuring differences in the blood of people with glomerular disease compared to healthy people of the same age, we will discover new information and develop a deeper understanding of why these individuals are at higher risk. How is this relevant to patients? With our new modified risk tool, we will be able to better identify, counsel and treat individuals with glomerular disease at high risk with the aim of preventing heart disease, for example through changes in diet and exercise, or medications to reduce cholesterol. By improving our knowledge and understanding of what happens in the blood vessels of people with glomerular disease, we hope to generate new research ideas and markers for future treatments to reduce the risk of heart disease.