Suuronen, Erik

Overview 

Erik Suuronen, PhD, is a Scientist in the Division of Cardiac Surgery and Director of its BEaTs Research Program at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. He is also Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery, with a Cross-Appointment in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, at the University of Ottawa. In addition, he is a member of the Faculty of Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies at the University of Ottawa, acting as supervisor to trainees at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral levels.

Background 

Dr. Suuronen received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1996 and his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine in 2004, both from the University of Ottawa, followed by a post-doctorate at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Dr. Suuronen’s doctoral research involved the use of tissue engineering methods to develop a model of the cornea, complete with nerves and surrounding sclera tissue containing blood vessels. His experience is being applied to cardiovascular research at the Heart Institute, where he is focusing on biomaterial therapy for cardiac repair.

Dr. Suuronen has participated as a member of peer grant review committees for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), and the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, among others. He regularly acts as a reviewer of manuscripts for leading scientific journals, and of abstracts submitted to major national and international research conferences. Locally, Dr. Suuronen contributes his time to multiple committees at both the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the University of Ottawa. In 2014, he and Dr. Marc Ruel were editors of a text book “Biomaterials for Cardiac Regeneration” published by Springer.

During his studies, Dr. Suuronen was supported by fellowships and awards from the HSFC, the International Foundation for Ethical Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. In 2007, he received the Young Investigator Award (first runner-up) from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and in 2009, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Basic Science Researcher of the Year Award, and in 2021, the Dr. Robert Roberts Award for Research Excellence at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Research & Clinical Interests 

Dr. Suuronen’s research focuses on the use of tissue engineering and cell-based approaches to develop new therapies for the treatment of cardiac injury and disease. This includes the investigation of how biomaterials can improve the tissue environment after a heart attack, and how cell-material interactions can be exploited to enhance heart repair. He is also investigating methylglyoxal, a toxic product that is generated in the heart after a heart attack. Research is underway to better understand the role of methylglyoxal in the negative remodeling and loss of function that occurs. Biomaterial therapies are also being developed to reduce methylglyoxal accumulation, limit the damage it causes and improve heart repair. Another area of interest for Dr. Suuronen’s research team is the investigation of cardiovascular complications associated with diabetes.

Publications 

See current publications list at PubMed.

Selected publications:

  • C. Eren Cimenci, N. J. R. Blackburn, V. Sedlakova, J. Pupkaite, M. Muñoz, B. H. Rotstein, D. A. Spiegel, E. I. Alarcon and E. J. Suuronen. Combined methylglyoxal scavenger and collagen hydrogel therapy prevents adverse remodeling and improves cardiac function post-myocardial infarction. Adv Funct Mater 2022;32:2108630.
  • S. McLaughlin, B. McNeill, J. Podrebarac, K. Hosoyama, V. Sedlakova, G. Cron, D. Smith, R. Seymour, K. Goel, W. Liang, K. J. Rayner, M. Ruel, E. J. Suuronen* and E. I. Alarcon*. Injectable human recombinant collagen matrices limit adverse remodeling and improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction. Nat Commun 2019;10:4866.
  • B. McNeill, A. Ostojic, K. J. Rayner, M. Ruel and E. J. Suuronen. Collagen biomaterial stimulates the production of extracellular vesicles containing microRNA-21 and enhances the pro-angiogenic function of CD34+ cells. FASEB J 2019;33:4166-77.
  • N. J. R. Blackburn, B. Vulesevic, B. McNeill, C. Eren Cimenci, A. Ahmadi, M. Gonzalez-Gomez, A. Ostojic, Z. Zhong, M. Brownlee, P. J. Beisswenger, R. W. Milne and E. J. Suuronen. Methylglyoxal-derived advanced glycation end products contribute to negative cardiac remodeling and dysfunction post-myocardial infarction. Basic Res Cardiol 2017;112:57.
  • B. Vulesevic, B. McNeill, F. Giacco, K. Maeda, N. J. R. Blackburn, M. Brownlee, R. W. Milne and E. J. Suuronen. Methylglyoxal-induced endothelial cell loss and inflammation contribute to the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy. Diabetes 2016;65:1699-713.
  • A. Ahmadi, S. Thorn, M. E. I. Alarcon, Kordos, D. T. Padavan, T. Hadizad, G. O. Cron, R. S. Beanlands, J. N. DaSilva, M. Ruel, R. A. deKemp and E. J. Suuronen. PET imaging of a collagen matrix reveals its effective injection and targeted retention in a mouse model of myocardial infarction. Biomaterials 2015;49:18-26.
  • N. J. R. Blackburn, T. Sofrenovic, D. Kuraitis, A. Ahmadi, B. McNeill, C. Deng, K. J. Rayner, Z. Zhong, M. Ruel and E. J. Suuronen. Timing underpins the benefits associated with injectable hydrogel therapies for the treatment of myocardial infarction. Biomaterials 2015;39:182-92.

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