Department of Medicine

Dr. Husam Abdel-Qadir among U of T early-career researchers awarded prestigious Polanyi Prize

Jan 22, 2019

Dr. Husam Abdel-QadirDr. Husam Abdel-Qadir (U of T News) The Department of Medicine’s Dr. Husam Abdel-Qadir is one of this year’s winners of the John Charles Polanyi Prize, which recognizes researchers in the early stages of their career. The $20,000 prizes, awarded by the Council of Ontario Universities, are named after U of T University Professor John Polanyi, who received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Dr. Abdel-Qadir is one of three U of T early-career researchers to be awarded the prestitoius prize this year.

Dr. Husam Abdel-Qadir, an assistant professor in U of T’s department of medicine, is being recognized for his focus on the cardiovascular health of breast cancer survivors. As a clinician-scientist at Women’s College Hospital and University Health Network, and alumnus of the Department of Medicine's Eliot Phillipson Clinician-Scientist Training Program, he examines the suspected link between breast cancer treatments – including chemotherapy and radiation therapy – with the development of heart diseases, including atrial fibrillation, a serious heart rhythm abnormality.

In previous research involving the rates of hospitalization for women with heart problems after breast cancer, Abdel-Qadir found that women who had breast cancer had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation. He's now working to prove the link by studying data on all women in Ontario who were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer between 1988 and 2016, and comparing the data to women with no history of cancer.

He says he sees the Polanyi Prize as positive reinforcement of the work he’s pursuing.

"My career trajectory has involved a lot of delayed gratification," he said, adding that he has spent almost 20 years as a postsecondary student.

He considers it a privilege to both practise medicine and conduct relevant research. “To walk down that path requires positive feedback to keep you motivated, and getting awards along the way, in particular the Polanyi Prize, is a very powerful form of positive motivation,” said Abdel-Qadir, who is also the director of continuing professional development for the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario.

Abdel-Qadir has also received an early-career chair in women's heart and brain health from the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support his work. He aims to use this chair to bring more structured solutions to patients with complicated health profiles.

"I want to develop a better understanding of breast cancer patients' level of depression, anxiety and stress and I want to see how that relates to their social environment," he said.