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Vernon Dolinsky PhD

Currently accepting students.

Current Position

Research Scientist of the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba; Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Manitoba

History

PhD University of Alberta
Post-doctoral fellow, University of Michigan
Post-doctoral fellow, University of Alberta

Research Focus

My research is focused on investigating the mechanisms involved in the development of gestational diabetes and how gestational diabetes contributes to the development of obesity, diabetes and related cardiovascular disorders in youth. My laboratory utilizes a combination of experimental animals, in vivo imaging as well as cellular molecular and biochemical techniques to expand the knowledge about the biological mechanisms that cause obesity, diabetes and heart disease. This information aims to guide the development of novel therapies for obesity, diabetes and heart disease. My laboratory is located within the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba and works as part of a larger interdisciplinary team of pediatric diabetes researchers called the Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba (DREAM) research group.

Why is this work important?

Obesity and its associated cardiovascular and metabolic disorders are reaching epidemic proportions and are becoming more frequently observed among children. Consequently it is predicted that 366 million people worldwide will be living with diabetes mellitus by 2030. Obesity has a complex pathophysiology characterized by inherited factors and environmental variables, with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) being a major outcome. In fact, Manitoba has the highest rate of T2D among youth in all of Canada. In addition, a diagnosis of T2D at a young age is strongly associated with the development of severe health complications later in life that could include heart disease, kidney disease or even blindness. A genetic component cannot completely explain the dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity and T2D among youth. While the consumption of calorie dense foods and a sedentary lifestyle are driving forces behind the rising incidence, population health data suggest that alterations in the gestational environment during crucial periods of development have long-lasting effects that influence disease susceptibility in the offspring.

Developmental Origins of Disease:

Population health data shows that programming of biological systems by the gestational environment defines the susceptibility for chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, in adulthood. For example, children born to mothers diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to be overweight and be diagnosed with diabetes as youth. My research program investigates how gestational diabetes influences the health of offspring as well as characterizing the mechanisms involved.

Gestational Diabetes:

Gestational diabetes is a common complication of pregnancy, which results in high blood sugar and insulin levels in pregnant mothers. The percentage of women with gestational diabetes has increased in parallel with the obesity epidemic. Currently little information exists about the mechanisms that cause gestational diabetes. My laboratory is currently investigating the role of various genes in the development of diabetes during pregnancy.

Therapies:

Infancy is a potential window to prevent disease development and investigate whether early life interventions can prevent obesity, insulin resistance and heart disease in the offspring. My laboratory is investigating pharmacologic interventions and/or proof of principle gene therapies to treat diabetes during pregnancy. This could lead to novel therapeutic approaches that allow us to intervene early in life and prevent the long-term programming effects of gestational diabetes.

Facilities:

My research utilizes a range of techniques involving molecular biological, biochemical and physiological to study the effects of the gestational environment on insulin sensitivity, gene expression and mitochondrial function from the whole animal level to isolated cells. Through DREAM we have access to an experimental animal suite. My lab also has access to sophisticated imaging techniques including confocal fluorescent microscopy, echocardiography, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, micro-computed tomography and positron emission tomography to investigate the progression of obesity and heart disease throughout development from the fetal stage all the way into adulthood.

Current Funding:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), 2014-2019

Manitoba Health Research Council (MHRC)/Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Bridge funding, 2014-2015

Manitoba Health Research Council (MHRC), Establishment Grant, 2013-2016)

Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), 2013-2014

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), 2013-2016 (Co-PI with Dr. McGavock)

Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba/Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, 2014-2015 (Co-PI with Dr. Doucette)

Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba/Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, 2014-2015 (Co-PI with Dr. Kauppinen)

Past Funding:

HSFC, 2012-2014

MHRC, 2012-2014

Manitoba Medical Services Foundation (MMSF), 2012-2013

Recent Awards to Dr Dolinsky:

Diabetes Foundation of Manitoba, Dr. J.A. Moorhouse Fellowship Award  2014-2016

Stewart Whitman-Amgen Young Investigator Award, 2014

American Heart Association Award for Outstanding Basic Science Publication in the journal Hypertension, 2010

Francis X. Witkowski Award for Outstanding and Original Publication, 2009

Awards Presented to my trainees:

Troy Pereira:

Manitoba Health Research Council Studentship

Dean of Graduate Studies Award for poster presentation at the Canadian Student Health Research Forum

Clive Greenway Award, Best Graduate Student Presentation in Dept of Pharmacology, 2013

First place, graduate student poster award at the CHRIM Child Health Research Day, 2013

Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba Travel Award to attend CCC/CDA Scientific Meeting in Montreal, 2013

Kristyn Campbell:

Network Environments for Aboriginal Health Research Studentship

Second place, graduate student poster award at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba Child Health Research Day, 2013

University of Manitoba Undergraduate Research Award

Brittany Moyce:

Peter Dresel Award for the best graduate student oral presentation at the Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics Meeting, 2014

Third place, graduate student poster award at the CHRIM Child Health Research Day, 2014

Stephanie Kereliuk:

Second place, graduate student poster award at the CHRIM Child Health Research Day, 2014

Third place, “Dr. Good Bear’s Den” trainee oral presentations at CHRIM Child Health Research Day, 2014

Current Lab Personnel:

Vernon Dolinsky      Principal Investigator

Mario Fonseca         Research Technician

Bo Xiang                   Research Technician

Brittany Moyce          Graduate Student, Pharmacology

Stephanie Kereliuk Graduate Student, Pharmacology

Kyle Cheung                        Undergraduate Student

Navdeep Brar           Undergraduate Student

Lab Alumni:

Troy Pereira              Graduate Student, University of British Columbia

Kristyn Campbell     Graduate Student, National Microbiology Laboratory