Faculty of Science

Research Profile: Laura Dewar, Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology

January 12, 2012

Laura has been a death investigator for 20 years for 20 years in BC's South Caribou region, and is also currently working on her PhD in the Molecular Cardiac Physiology Laboratory at SFU, in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology.

Her current research examines the causes of sudden, unexpected death in the young (SUDY): the non-traumatic death of an apparently healthy young person under the age of 40. (When a newborn is involved, it's often referred to as sudden infant death syndrome/SIDS.)

A significant portion (perhaps 20% or higher) of these tragic deaths may be due to inherited cardiac disorders that do not show up at autopsy. Given that these disorders are inherited, if the cause of death is not identified, surviving family members may be at risk of another death. 

Most death investigation agencies in Canada do not routinely use genetic testing to help determine cause of death. In addition to uncovering the molecular mechanisms of sudden cardiac death underlying SUDY, Laura’s thesis work includes development of guidelines for coroners and medical examiners to assist agencies in the investigation of SUDY deaths, and help SUDY-affected families find answers.

Laura is also part of the “SUD in Western Canada” research network consisting of clinicians, researchers and death investigation agencies working together to determine the causes of SUDY. While Laura's graduate research is independent of the BC Coroners’ Office, it has implications which may greatly benefit the Office's practices and help grieving families. 

She was a Richard Rowe Research Competition Student Presentation Award Finalist for Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology at the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Conference on October 25th, 2011 for her presentation “Current practices regarding the clinical care and management of families affected by Sudden Unexpected Death in the Young in Canada.”

Laura has also just published a book chapter on sudden cardiac death: "Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy-Related Troponin Mutations and Sudden Cardiac Death". (Book is Cardiomyopathies - From Basic Research to Clinical Management.)

To learn more about inherited cardiac syndromes that cause sudden death in young people, please visit the Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndromes website.

No comments yet

Recent Blog Posts

  • External Award: WorkSafeBC Innovation at Work Grants December 04, 2019
    The 2018 WorkSafe BC Innovation at Work competition launches November 3, 2017, with an application deadline in late January or early February. The award is generally $50,000 and is geared towards funding proposals that are innovative and practical.

  • Call for Proposal: 17th Symposium on Teaching and Learning March 01, 2019
    The SFU Teaching and Learning Centre invites interactive and innovative proposals that demonstrate how your practice, research, or scholarly inquiry relates to the theme of Assessing and Celebrating Teaching and Student Learning. Deadline: Mar 22

  • Tea Time Talk March 01, 2019
    Join the event on Mar 18 to enjoy afternoon tea while sharing with us a conversation on how SFU can foster a culture of fairness, belonging and diversity. RSVP now

View Posts by Category