Photo: Denis Drever

Dr. Ernesto L. Schiffrin, Professor and Vice-Chair (Research) in the Department of Medicine at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine, Physician-in-Chief in the Department of Medicine at the Jewish General Hospital and Canada Research Chair in Hypertension and Vascular Research at the Lady Davis Institute has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Prix Galien Canada – Research Award.

The Prix Galien is the most prestigious award in the field of Canadian pharmaceutical research and innovation. Referred to as the Nobel Prize of pharmaceutical research, it recognizes the efforts and achievements of pharmaceutical research and development and is presented to the researcher or the research team judged to have made the most significant contribution to pharmaceutical research in Canada.

“I feel honored and delighted at being chosen as this year’s recipient of the Prix Galien Canada,” says Dr. Schiffrin. “I have been fortunate that my work and that of my team has allowed the development of biomarkers and pharmaceuticals that contribute to improve outcomes of patients with hypertension and heart failure.”

Born in Buenos Aires, where he obtained his MD degree at the University of Buenos Aires and trained in Internal Medicine, Dr. Schiffrin moved to Montreal in 1976 to do research under R. Boucher and J. Genest Sr. at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal (IRCM). He obtained a PhD in Experimental Medicine at McGill University in 1980. Dr. Schiffrin obtained his FRCPC in Internal Medicine in 1982, directed the Experimental Hypertension Laboratory at IRCM (1982-2005), was Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal, internist at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, and directed the IRCM MRCC (later CIHR) Multidisciplinary Research Group on Hypertension and the Hypertension Clinic (1990-end of 2005). In January 2006, he moved to the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University.

Dr. Schiffrin studies mechanisms and treatment of hypertension, from molecules and cells to humans, vascular intracellular signaling and oxidative stress and remodeling of resistance arteries in animals and humans with hypertension, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. He demonstrated differential beneficial effects of ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor antagonists (ARB), mineralocorticoid receptor blockers and calcium channel antagonists, on vascular structure and endothelial function in human essential hypertension and diabetes.

He is author of more than 550 peer-reviewed publications, many book chapters and editor of 4 published books on molecular and clinical aspects of vascular disease and hypertension. His discoveries include natriuretic peptides as biomarkers of severity of heart failure, their inhibition of aldosterone secretion, demonstration of increased endothelin (ET) and its role in experimental hypertension and the overexpression of the endothelin-1 gene in small arteries of patients with severe essential hypertension, leading to potential use of ET antagonists in resistant hypertension, for which a trial is being developed. His group generated the first transgenic mouse overexpressing human ET-1 in the endothelium, demonstrating its role in abdominal aortic aneurisms, and recently developed an inducible mouse overexpressing ET that is hypertensive. Among his most impactful discoveries/inventions is the first ARNI with valsartan/sacubutril, demonstrating significant beneficial effects on the heart and vasculature of SHR, leading to development of the most effective treatment for heart failure (Entresto®). Dr. Schiffrin’s work has studied the role of innate and adaptive immunity, and specifically T regulatory lymphocytes and gamma/delta T lymphocytes.

Funded by MRC and CIHR uninterruptedly since 1983, he is currently recipient of a 3.2 million dollar First Pilot Foundation Grant from CIHR that supports his studies on endothelin, immunity and microRNAs in experimental animals and humans.

Dr. Schiffrin was President of the Canadian Hypertension Society (1991-92), Chair of the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research Council (2002-2004), President of the InterAmerican Society of Hypertension (2005-2007), President of the Quebec Hypertension Society (2009-2011), President of the International Society of Hypertension (2012-2014) and President of Hypertension Canada (2013-1016), Associate Editor of Hypertension (AHA journal, 2003-2015), and is since January 2016 Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Hypertension.

Dr. Schiffrin is Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2006. He received the 2007 Irvine Page-Alva Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award of the AHA High Blood Pressure Research Council, the European Society of Hypertension 2010 Bjorn Folkow Award, the AHA 2011 Excellence Award on Hypertension, the American Society of Hypertension 2013 Robert Tigerstedt Distinguished Scientist Award, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society 2013 Distinguished Scientist Award, the Canadian Society of Clinical Investigation 2015 Distinguished Scientist Award, and the 2016 National Margolese Prize on Cardiac Disorders. He was appointed Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.) in July 2010.

Congratulations Dr. Schiffrin!

(Files from Prix Galien and the Lady Davis Institute)

October 13, 2017