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Dr. Colin Peters receives Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal
Colin Peters completed his doctoral dissertation, Proton modulation of residue E1784 and its regulation of fast inactivation, which unravels the role blood acidity plays in eliciting cardiac arrhythmia in those born with specific rare genetic mutations.
The mutation is a single base pair switch in the gene encoding for a protein called the voltage-gated sodium channel that is responsible for initiating electrical signals that coordinate beating of the muscle cells in the heart. Peters showed that this mutant disrupts a key interaction in the channel, leading to impaired function and, consequently, disrupted signalling in the heart. Furthermore, he found that this impairment is exacerbated by increased blood acidity. This suggests that blood acidity may act as a triggering event for sudden cardiac death in these patients. These findings further support a role for personalized medicine in this patient group.
Ruben, acknowledges the impact of Peters’ work in the field and in medicine. “The collective impact of this body of work will be felt in the ion channel field for years to come. It has already spurred other laboratories to make similar measurements in other ion channels and cell types. Perhaps more importantly, it may change the way cardiologists treat their patients with inherited arrhythmias.”
Throughout his degree Colin was funded by a NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Graduate scholarship of $105,000 and maintained a CGPA of 4.33.
Colin would like to thank Peter for for 8 years of support and wisdom. Without Peter, Colin says he would not have had many of the opportunities that lead him to continuing with research.
Ruben, speaks highly of Peters. “Colin Peters is the graduate student about whom every PhD supervisor dreams: multi-talented, smart, driven, fun, creative, independent, and productive. The greatest complement I can give a students is to invite them to work in my lab and turn them loose on a project. I did so with Colin and it turned into a win-win situation.”
Peters is currently working as a Post-doctoral researcher at SFU, studying the role of temperature in eliciting seizures in children with severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy. This work is in collaboration with clinical groups in the UK, Dublin, Stanford, and Australia.
Notes Peters, “Our goal is to find out why different patients experience different symptoms and responses to anti-epileptic drugs. This is temporary for me as I am currently interviewing for post-doctoral positions in the USA to study other aspects of electrical signalling in the human body.”
- SFU Faculty: Faculty of Science, Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology
- Thesis Title: Proton modulation of residue E1784 and its regulation of fast inactivation
- Research Lab: Molecular Cardiac Physiology Group
- Article in SFU News: New research links heart attacks to genetic mutation