Naranjan S. Dhalla, (Punjabi: ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਢੱਲਾ; born 1936) is a Canadian cardiovascular research scientist focusing on cardiovascular pathophysiology and therapy of heart disease.
Dhalla is recognized as a world leader in heart research. His laboratory employs a variety of experimental models to investigate a wide range of cardiovascular diseases at the subcellular and molecular levels.
Born in Ghanieke, Punjab, India, he received a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Chemistry from Panjab University in 1956, an A.I.C. in Chemistry from the Institution of Chemists in Calcutta, India in 1961, a Master of Science in Pharmacology from University of Pennsylvania in 1963, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from University of Pennsylvania in 1965.
In 1968, he joined the University of Manitoba as an assistant professor in physiology. In 1972, he became an associate professor and a full professor in 1974. In 1991, he was appointed a distinguished professor of physiology. From 1996 to 2006, he was the director of St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre's Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences. He currently serves as the executive director of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences.
Dhalla also served the International Society for Heart Research as secretary general from 1972 to 1988 and as president elect, president, and past president from 1989 to 1998. He is credited for expanding the reach of the ISHR by establishing chapters in Russia, China, Japan, India, South America and in many other countries of the world.
In 1997, he was made a member of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour, for having "distinguished himself in the field of cardiovascular research". In 1996, he was awarded Manitoba's Order of the Buffalo Hunt and the Order of Manitoba in 2002. In 2000, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
In 2007, he was granted heraldic arms from the Canadian Heraldic Authority with the motto "Satayam Shivam Sundaram" or "Truth Purity Beauty".
In 2009, Dhalla was awarded an honorary doctorate from Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.
Promotion of Cardiovascular Research and Education Globally:
Dhalla is a well-established and highly reputed scientist as his research work has advanced knowledge in the area of cardiovascular pathophysiology and therapy of heart disease. In particular, he has been engaged in discovering the subcellular and molecular basis of cardiac dysfunction in congestive heart failure, ischemia-reperfusion injury, chronic diabetes and stress-induced heart disease. By using innovative approaches, he has identified that remodeling of subcellular organelles plays a critical role in the development of congestive heart failure due to myocardial infarction. His work has also resulted in a concept that heart dysfunction in diabetes is due to an imbalance between fatty acid and glucose utilization. He has demonstrated that the stress-induced heart disease is due to the oxidation of catecholamines (stress hormones) and that the oxidized catecholamines are the most sensitive index of prognosis for heart failure. His research in the area of ischemic heart disease has esta blished the role of oxyradicals and intracellular calcium overload in the genesis of ischemia-reperfusion injury. He has published more than 594 full-length research papers in national and international journals and over the past 17 years, his research contributions have been cited more than 5,560 times; during the past 5 years (1998–2002) his work has been cited 1,794 times. This is a hallmark of his leadership in cardiovascular medicine all over the world.
During the course of his research endeavors, Dhalla discovered a novel approach for reducing the scar-size and preventing mortality due to heart attacks. This discovery has been patented and has resulted in the founding of a publicly traded (on TSE) company, “Medicure Inc.” in Manitoba. This company is actively engaged in Cardiovascular Drug Discovery Program and clinical trials of its lead compound. This is a fine example of Dhalla’s vision for translating laboratory observations into newer treatments for patient care. From the rate of Medicure’s growth and its research and marketing activities, this enterprise is going to contribute in a major way to the economic growth of this Country. For his entrepreneurship, he was awarded the Life-Time Achievement Award by the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Toronto. On the basis of the high quality of his research, Dhalla has been able to bring over $40 million in research grants over the past 35 years. In fact, the first Centre of Excellence in Heart Research in Canada was set up by the Medical Research Council under his leadership in 1978. These activities have now flourished into the world-renowned Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences with more than 125 scientists, students and support staff. Dhalla has been the prime moving force in attracting first-rate investigators and developing extraordinary research facilities in the Institute.
Dhalla has done exceedingly well in training postgraduate students and research fellows. He has trained more than 125 scientists who are actively engaged in pursuing their research and academic careers all over the world. He has exceptional talents in inspiring young people to undertake challenges for combatting heart disease. The respect shown to him by his fellows and colleagues became evident when more than 400 individuals from all around the world gathered here to celebrate his 60th birthday in 1996. He has been named in Ottawa, along with some of the most famous cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons of the world, as a “Living Legend”. His bust in the Winnipeg Hall of Fame is a real tribute to his commitment and service to the people of Manitoba.
Dhalla in the area of cardiovascular research and education have been recognized in the form of 89 honours and awards. He is a member of the Order of Canada, Order of Manitoba, Order of the Buffalo Hunt by the Province of Manitoba and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was appointed as Distinguished Professor of the University of Manitoba and was awarded MD (Hon) by the Charles University in Prague and DSc (Hon) by the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava in addition to honorary professorship at three well known Universities. His academic achievements have been recognized by several professional Societies, including the Manitoba Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, Pharmacological Society of Canada, American Physiological Society, American College of Cardiology and the International Society for Heart Research. Both the Indian Pharmacological Society and the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences have established annual endowed awards in his name.
Dhalla is a world leader in promoting cardiovascular education. In his capacity as Secretary General (for 17 years) and President (for 3 years), he promoted the International Society for Heart Research and helped make it a unique forum for the exchange of information in the world. In his current role as executive director of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences (since 1996), he devotes considerable energies to promote cardiovascular education. He is serving as editor-in-chief of a major medical journal, “Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry” for the past 16 years. It is significant to point out that it is the only international journal in the field of medicine which is being edited in Canada for a long time. In addition, Dhalla has authored/edited 40 books in the field of cardiovascular science and thus has helped in the education of numerous students and specialists around the world. Dhalla has lectured at more than 365 conferences and institutions in the world, and thus has promoted the profile of work being carried out in Manitoba. In addition, he has organized several international conferences in Winnipeg during the past 30 years. Recently, he chaired one of the most successful conferences, “XVII World Heart Congress” where more than 1800 cardiovascular health professionals from 70 countries participated in discussing the scientific basis of cardiology. This attests to the fact that Dhalla is an individual with special talents who has tirelessly participated in promoting cardiovascular education throughout the world.