Dr. Denise Hemmings obtained her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Immunology (MMI) in 2001 with Dr. Larry Guilbert and did a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Sandra Davidge at the University of Alberta (U of A). She is an Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, cross-appointed in MMI at U of A, recipient of a CIHR New Investigator award in 2010 and the former Chair of Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST). Her lab investigates the impact of chronic infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a Herpesvirus, in breast cancer and also its impact on metabolic and vascular dysfunction in aging. The other major focus in Dr. Hemmings’ lab is to understand the dual vascular functions of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a bioactive lipid, in pregnancy, namely permeability, vascular tone and their inter-regulation. She is interested in S1P-mediated vascular adaptations during pregnancy and the factors that disrupt these responses such as elevated proinflammatory cytokines, leading to pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. One mechanism by which S1P signalling pathways may be disrupted is maternal infection with CMV. The impact of this normally innocuous virus infection on vascular function, placental development and immunological adaptations, particularly with respect to S1P signalling during pregnancy, form part of her research program. Dr. Hemmings is funded by operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Dr. Hemmings serves on several student advisory committees and reviews for many journals and funding agencies. She has a passion for training students and since her appointment in 2005 has trained or mentored more than 60 students from the junior high school to the post-doctoral fellow level. Through her connections with WISEST, she is passionate about encouraging young women to enter, stay and advance in science, engineering and technology careers. As the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Reproductive Sciences Division Director, Dr. Hemmings also encourages students and staff in the basic sciences to step outside of their comfortable scientific boundaries to forge interdisciplinary links with clinicians and epidemiologists.
The Hemmings laboratory focuses on understanding the dual vascular functions of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a bioactive lipid, namely permeability, vascular tone and their inter-regulation. The laboratory is interested in S1P-mediated vascular adaptations during pregnancy and the factors that disrupt these responses leading to pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. These factors include infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a Herpesvirus, and elevated proinflammatory cytokines. The Hemmings laboratory also investigates the impact of chronic CMV infections on metabolic and vascular dysfunction in aging and in breast cancer.
Adipose tissue, Aging, Autotaxin, Breast cancer, Cytomegalovirus, Endothelial permeability , Inflammatory cytokines, Metabolic function, Oxidative stress, Placenta, Sphingosine 1-phosphate, Vascular function
- Yang Z, Tang X, Meng G, Benesch MGK, Mackova M, Belon AP, Serrano-Lomelin J, Goping IS, Brindley DN, Hemmings DG. “Latent cytomegalovirus infection in female mice increases cancer metastasis,” Cancers (Basel) Mar 29:11(4) E447, 2019
- Cao AT, Kerage D, Mackova M, Brindley DN, Hemmings DG. “Sexual dimorphism of metabolic and vascular dysfunction in aged mice and those lacking the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 3,” Experimental Gerontology 99:87-97, 2017
- Kerage D, Brindley DN and Hemmings DG. “Novel insights into the regulation of vascular tone by sphingosine 1-phosphate,” Placenta Feb 17: S86-S92, 2014
- Gombos RB, Brown JC, Teefy J, Gibeault RL, Conn KL, Schang LM, Hemmings DG. “Vascular dysfunction in young, mid-aged and aged mice with latent cytomegalovirus infections,” Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 304(2):H183-94, 2013
- Gombos RB, Teefy J, Lee A, Hemmings DG. “Impact of local endothelial challenge with cytomegalovirus or glycoprotein B on vasodilation in intact pressurized arteries from non-pregnant and pregnant mice,” Biol Reprod 87(4):83, 2012