Gordon A. Francis

Gordon A. Francis MD, FRCPC

Professor of Medicine
Director, Heart and Stroke Foundation Lipid Research Laboratory
Director, Healthy Heart Program Prevention Clinic
University of British Columbia

Dr. Francis studies the mechanisms of formation of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) at the cellular and in vivo level, with the aim to develop therapies that increase HDL formation for the treatment and prevention of vascular disease. 

Projects in his laboratory include:

Understanding the mechanism of enhancement of formation of HDL following treatment of cells and whole animals with HDL oxidized by tyrosyl radical (tyrosylated HDL). Short peptide fragments of HDL proteins oxidized by tyrosyl radical that increase HDL formation are being studied as potential therapies to increase HDL formation clinically.

Determining the cellular factors required for initial HDL production by arterial smooth muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells in the plaque or intimal layer of arteries fail to bind HDL proteins and generate new HDL proteins, while smooth muscle cells in the medial or muscular layer of arteries make HDL efficiently. The differences in gene and protein expression by these two cell types serve as a model to determine the requirements of cells to generate HDL.

Patients with lysosomal cholesterol storage diseases exhibit low levels of HDL. The Francis lab is using cells obtained from patients with lysosomal cholesterol storage diseases Niemann-Pick type C disease and Cholesteryl Ester Storage Disease to study the role of lysosomal cholesterol in regulating HDL production.

Dr. Francis is also involved in clinical studies of the effects of LDL apheresis on biochemical and radiologic measures of atherosclerosis and on quality of life.

The Francis lab is funded by research grants from CIHR, CFI, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon.