International Society of Hypertension

New Investigators Network

New Investigator Network
Member Spotlight


May 2012 Spotlight - Dylan Burger

Dylan Burger

Kidney Research Centre,
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Ottawa, ON, CA

How did you become interested in research relating to Hypertension?

I have pretty significant family history of CV disease on both sides of my family so I have always been interested in addressing this important health issue. Beginning with my fourth year project 10 years ago my research has always been related to cardiovascular disease in some way. As I have developed as a researcher my work has focused more and more on endothelial dysfunction, a critical component of hypertension.

Describe your research interest & the research program that you are in

I work as part of a team of investigators at the Kidney Research Centre inOttawa,Canada.  Research at our centre focuses on hypertension, mechanisms of glomerular injury, and mechanisms of diabetic vascular and renal injury.

My own research focuses on the cellular mechanisms of oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in hypertension. I have a particular interest in the role of microparticles, tiny cellular fragments shed from stressed cells of the vasculature in propagating endothelial dysfunction following vascular injury.

What do you consider to be your substantial scientific contribution so far?

I would consider my recent manuscript “Endothelial microparticle formation by angiotensin II is mediated via Ang II receptor type I/NADPH oxidase/Rhokinase pathways targeted to lipid rafts.” (PMID: 21597004) to be my most substantial scientific contribution. I am proud of how it is a comprehensive examination of microparticles as both markers AND mediators of vascular injury. 

 What is your favourite manuscript from a lab other than your own?

“Activation of nitric oxide synthase in endothelial cells by Akt-dependent phosphorylation” PMID: 10376603.  Just sensational work by one of the world leaders in nitric oxide and vascular biology.

What facilities are essential for your research?

Flow cytometry, cell culture facilities, myography apparatus, live cell imaging equipment and HPLC.

Where do your research strengths lie? Why? What are your research weaknesses? How will you improve?

My strengths are in assay development and troubleshooting/problem solving. I derive great satisfaction from brining a new technique to the lab. I also feel that I am very collegial and work well in research teams.

My main weakness, which I think is common in many researchers, is a failure (at times) to think of my work within the context of a complete physiological system.  It is easy, for example, to ignore the impact of the brain on BP if you are focusing directly on the kidney or vasculature.  I try to address this by expanding my knowledge in the other systems (i.e. attending brain-specific sessions at conferences) whenever possible.

Describe your unforgettable (proudest) moment in science, and the most challenging instance that you had to overcome (lessons learnt) so far?

My proudest moment in science was receiving my PhD in 2008.  It was the culmination of years of hard work and personal/professional development. The most challenging aspect of a scientific career is trying to find a balance with family life. Success in this career requires both personal and financial sacrifice but family is what makes it all worthwhile.

Which conference did you first present in? How was your experience?

My first poster was at Experimental Biology 2005 inSan Diego. It was my first conference of any kind and with so many people and such varied topics it was incredibly overwhelming at the time.

What upcoming conferences will you be attending, and what is the furthest you have traveled for a conference?

I will be attending the Canadian Society of Nephrology Meeting inSt. John’s NL April 25-30.  I also plan on attending the Council for High Blood Pressure Research and possibly ISH 2012 inSydney. The furthest I have travelled was to the Beijing Joint Conference on the Physiological Sciences (2008).

How did you know about ISH/NIN and its activities?

My supervisor, Dr. Rhian Touyz is an ISH member who encouraged me to attend the Vancouver 2010 meeting and get involved. At the 2010 meeting I met several colleagues including NIN member Dr. Praveen Veerabhadrappa. After the meeting I joined with Praveen, and Drs. Charchar, Tomaszewski, Harrap and Carlberg to initiate the New Investigator Network.

What area(s) do you wish to specialize in the future?

My primary goal at the moment is to build a research program of my own focusing on the role of microparticles in mediating vascular injury.  Long term I would like to be involved in novel, cutting edge research which enhances our understanding of vascular biology.

Who is your role model in research? Why?

My current and previous supervisors (Dr. Rhian Touyz and Dr. Qingping Feng) are brilliant individuals who are extremely hard working, collegial, and driven.  They are perfect examples of how to succeed in scientific research.  Dr. Kevin D Burns, director of our research centre, is also a role model for excellence, particularly as it relates to education and the development of research teams.  I consider many other individuals role models but would not want to leave anyone out.

What are your scientific goals? Advise for talented emerging scientists?

My personal goal is to develop an independent laboratory examining mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction in hypertension and kidney disease. The best advice I can give to emerging scientists is to take every opportunity you get to present your work. At your lab meetings present at every chance.  If someone cancels at your institutional seminar series- volunteer to present. If you go to a conference always select “Oral preferred”. Being able to communicate the importance of your work is critical and practice is the only way to get good at it.


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