Dr. Joel Karwatsky
Ottawa Health Research Institute
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) – often known as ‘bad’ cholesterol – contributes to plaque build up in the blood vessels and raises the risk of heart attacks. ‘Good’ cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL, helps to carry the ‘bad’ cholesterol away from blood vessel walls.
Dr. Joel Karwatsky, a postdoctoral fellow at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, is studying a key protein responsible for determining how much ‘good’ cholesterol is in the blood.
He is particularly interested in structures found within our cells which contain high concentrations of the ‘good’ cholesterol. Using a new microscopic imaging technique that inserts fluorescent dyes into cell membranes, he will obtain the first real-time video to reveal how ‘good’ cholesterol enters the bloodstream.
Such detailed visual data, which he says is usually all but impossible to obtain in most biochemical research, could provide unique insights into the operation of cells, especially the role of the protein in question.
Dr. Karwatsky, whose work is supervised by Dr. Zha Xiaohui at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, suggests these insights could lead to methods to manipulate the release of ‘good’ cholesterol in individuals with high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
A better understanding of this process could also shed new light on the advantages of a particular type of diet or exercise regime.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation congratulates Dr. Karwatsky for his groundbreaking efforts and looks forward to his results.
Supported by AstraZeneca Canada Inc.