Robert Gros, PhD, is a scientist by more than just name and trade. His passion and curiosity are also defining characteristics. “As a medical researcher, I have one of the most interesting jobs,” he said. “It is continually changing and I continue to learn and evolve.”
This pursuit of life-long learning keeps Gros quite busy in the lab, as he has a number of projects on the go.
The Robarts scientist investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of vascular and cardiac function. He is specifically focused on the role of different signaling transduction pathways in vascular cells, and how they function under physiological and pathological conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
The impairment of signaling pathways, including the family of G-protein coupled receptors (GCPRs), is partly due to the increased expression of G-protein coupled receptor kinases (GRKs). The regulation of these GRKs during hypertension is currently under study in Gros' lab.
By investigating these mechanisms, the goal is to better understand how and why vascular conditions occur, with potential for clinical application. “I always hope that the research I conduct and continue to undertake will someday translate to better diagnostic tools and patient care,” Gros explained.
In an ongoing collaborative project with Drs. Ross Feldman and Rob Hegele, Gros is also working on the role estrogen plays in heart disease. The researchers have shown that the G-protein coupled estrogen receptor 30 (GPER) when activated by estrogen helps lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and lowers blood pressure.
This finding provides evidence that the hormone estrogen plays a key role in regulating two of the most common risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
These types of collaborative projects at Robarts and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry are important to Gros and his research career. “None of these discoveries could have been made without the collaboration and support of my colleagues,” he explained. “I have been very fortunate to be involved with some seminal research over the years.”
Outside of his lab, 'scientist' is just one of the hats Gros wears. His other primary role is being a father of three. He is actively involved in events at the school where his children attend and and co-chairs the school council.
Between the demands of running a lab and volunteering for school hot lunches, there’s never a dull moment for Gros.