By Sharon Mah
Simon Fraser University (SFU) Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) is pleased to announce assistant professor Graeme Koelwyn as its Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Public Health ‘Omics in Exercise and Disease. This chair is the fourth CRC held at the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Koelwyn, who joined FHS in 2021, is concurrently appointed as a principal investigator at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital. He also holds the Dr. James Hogg Professorship in Public Health ‘Omics in Exercise and Disease at Providence Research, which honours esteemed pioneering investigator and professor Dr. James Hogg, whose revolutionary research on the inflammation of smaller airways profoundly changed the medical understanding and eventual treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma.
Koelwyn’s current research involves two main areas of investigation. He and his lab are engaged in applying a translational, ‘omics-based approach to understanding how heart and lung disease, as well as cancer, communicate with each other, leading to disease progression that can result worse patient outcomes. This occurrence, known as “multi-morbidity,” is being observed more frequently as medical treatments for diseases improve and extend the life expectancy of patients, increasing the risk for new diseases to occur.
Another area of research for Koelwyn involves demonstrating how exercise improves immune responses individuals at risk for, or diagnosed with heart and lung disease, as well as cancer. In doing so, Koelwyn and his collaborators hope to better understand not only the biology of how exercise protects from these diseases, but also answer questions such as ‘when’ and ‘how much’ certain patients should be exercising as a means of improving disease outcomes.
Koelwyn – who completed his PhD at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and his postdoctoral studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City – is pleased to be working within the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, as both institutions value adaptive, progressive and innovative approaches to health sciences research. His role as the Tier 2 CRC in Public Health ‘Omics in Exercise and Disease allows him to engage and collaborate with clinicians, basic scientists, and epidemiologists from across the province to address shared research questions across multiple diseases. He notes that “one of the great things about being here is working with different research groups to look at how an intervention like exercise could be beneficial across these diseases.”
“I am very pleased to congratulate Dr. Graeme Koelwyn on his appointment as Simon Fraser University’s Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Public Health ‘Omics in Exercise and Disease,” said Dr. Darryl Knight, President, Providence Research. “His highly respected research in the field of omics-based knowledge of how heart and lung disease, as well as cancer, communicate with each other, in combination with the study of exercise as a preventative to improve patient care outcomes in treating diseases, is greatly valued.”
Knight – who also serves as Vice President, Research & Academic Affairs, Providence Health Care (PHC) and as Associate Dean – Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia – added that as the inaugural holder of the Dr. James Hogg Professorship in Public Health ‘Omics in Exercise and Disease at Providence Research, “[Graeme Koelwyn] will help us continue on our journey of research excellence for generations to come, as we move into our new Providence Research Centre at the new St. Paul’s Hospital.”