Centre for Heart Lung Innovation
St. Paul's Hospital
Room 166 - 1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Dr. Gordon Francis is an endocrinologist and Professor of Medicine in the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation and Department of Medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital, UBC. Dr. Francis completed his BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University, followed by MD training at McGill University, internship and internal medicine residency at UBC, and fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Alberta. He was then a senior research fellow for 4 years studying basic and clinical lipid and lipoprotein metabolism at the University of Washington in Seattle. From 1994-2007 he was a member of the CIHR Group in Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids and from 2000-2007 Director of the Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Clinic at the University of Alberta. In 2007 he returned to his home city of Vancouver to join the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (formerly UBC James Hogg Research Centre) and direct the Healthy Heart Program Prevention (former Lipid) Clinic. Establishment of his laboratory in this Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital was funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon. He holds research funding from CIHR and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and is the principal investigator for a Canadian Foundation for Innovation Leading Edge Fund award funded in 2012, “Molecules to Human: Enhanced phenotyping for the discovery,prevention, & treatment of heart, lung, & blood vessel disease”. Previous awards have included an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Senior Scholar Award, the University of Alberta Department of Medicine Award for Excellence in Academic Mentoring, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Medal in Medicine.
Area of Interest
Dr. Francis’ research studies mechanisms of intracellular trafficking of cholesterol as it relates to expression of the membrane lipid transporter ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) and high density lipoprotein (HDL) formation. Key observations from his research include identification of the defect in apolipoprotein-mediated lipid efflux from Tangier Disease cells (J Clin Invest 1995), demonstration of impaired ABCA1 regulation and HDL formation in the lysosomal cholesterol storage diseases Niemann-Pick Disease Type C and Cholesteryl Ester Storage Disease (J Biol Chem 2003, 2006, 2011), and the ability of HDL oxidized by tyrosyl radical to enhance cholesterol removal from cells, reduce development of atherosclerosis, and stabilize ABCA1 against degradation (PNAS USA 1993, J Biol Chem 1998, ATVB 2003, BMC Biochemistry 2012). His laboratory recently reported that smooth muscle cells represent at least 50% of all intimal foam cells, have a specific defect in ABCA1 expression, and comprise a large percentage of macrophage marker-expressing cells in human coronary atherosclerosis (Circulation 2014). He is also a member of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Consensus Panel for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dyslipidemia for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.