Dr. Howe is a Surgeon-Scientist who has trained at the University of Toronto (MD) and McMaster University (PhD, FRCSC). Her research program focuses on the role of endothelial activation on microRNA regulation in atherosclerosis. While in the Leeper lab during a mini-fellowship at Stanford University, Dr. Howe became interested in the role of cellular communication within atherosclerotic plaques and efferocytosis (‘clearance of the dead’), a process that is dysregulated in vulnerable lesions. Her research question “Does endothelial activation lead to defective efferocytosis via altered microRNA secretion?” will use model systems as well as human tissue from the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Biobank. Her ultimate goal is to find regulators of atherosclerosis for development of innovative strategies for improved screening tools, risk assessment, and intervention in advance of devastating clinical events such as stroke and myocardial infarction.
Many people have atherosclerotic plaques in the carotid arteries but only some cause strokes - the problem is we don’t know which ones. Our laboratory is trying to understand how cells within blood vessels communicate with one another in diseases such as atherosclerosis using secreted vesicles containing genetic code. The main goal of this research is to better understand these cellular communication signals in order to identify and treat plaques that are going to cause a problem so that we can prevent a stroke.
Division of Vascular Surgery, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network
Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
Associate Member, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto