McMaster University

Medical Sciences
Graduate Program

Scope of Search


Geoff H. Werstuck

Geoff H. Werstuck


BSc, PhD

Research Interests

Our research is concentrated upon understanding why people with diabetes mellitus are predisposed to cardiovascular disease.

The last few decades have witnessed a dramatic, worldwide increase in the prevalence of diabetes mellitus. Complications associated with diabetes make it a leading cause of blindness, renal failure and lower limb amputations in adults as well as an important, independent risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, CVD accounts for over 65% of diabetic mortality. The treatment and prevention of diabetic complications such as CVD is currently limited by our lack of understanding of the mechanisms by which diabetes promotes atherosclerosis – the underlying cause of CVD.

The Werstuck laboratory is located at the Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute (TAARI), a facility dedicated to basic, clinical, and epidemiologic research in thrombosis, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. Our research is focused upon delineating the mechanisms by which diabetes mellitus promotes the progression and development of atherosclerosis. Our laboratory employs a broad range of molecular and cellular techniques to examine cell and tissue-specific responses that are relevant to disease progression.



Current areas of investigation in the Werstuck lab:

  1. Identification of novel molecular pathways.
    This research involves experiments performed in cell culture and animal models of diabetes. Genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and imaging techniques are being utilized to identify cell and tissue specific changes associated with hyperglycemia and diabetes. Using unique model systems we have identified a novel mechanism involving the activation of specific proteins; including glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase (GFAT) and glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3.
  2. Testing new therapeutic interventions.
    We are actively developing strategies to target specific molecular factors involved in atherogenesis, including GFAT and GSK3. In collaboration with an organic chemistry laboratory, we are designing, synthesizing and testing novel inhibitors of intracellular targets in our cell culture systems. The most promising compounds are tested in established animal models of diabetes to assess their anti-atherogenic potential.
  3. Examining translational potential in human patients.
    In order to test the relevance of pathways and mechanisms that have been identified in our cell culture and animal models, we have formed collaborations with clinicians who have access to patients with diabetes and CVD. Specific markers of interest from patient samples are quantified relative to non-diabetic controls and compared to data collected from our model systems.



Research in the Werstuck lab is funded by operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), and the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA).


Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute (TAARI)

McMaster University, Hamilton General Hospital Campus

telephone: 905 521-2100 ext 40747


Program Area

Blood & Vasculature


Research Focus

Diabetes Mellitus, Atherosclerosis, Obesity, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, Lipid Metabolism, Inflammation

Selected Publications

Gerstein H, Nair V, Chaube R, Stoute H, Werstuck GH (2019) Dysglycemia and the density of the coronary vasa vasorum. Diabetes Care 42, 980-982


Venegas-Pino DE, Lagrotteria A, Wang PE, Clapdorp C, Shi Y, Werstuck GH (2018) Evidence of Extensive Atherosclerosis, Coronary Artery Disease and Myocardial Infarction in the ApoE-/-:Ins2+/Akita Mouse Fed a Western Diet. Atherosclerosis 275, 88-96

Venegas-Pino DE, Stoute HK, Wang PW, Singh-Pickersgill NA, Hong BY, Khan MI, Shi Y, Werstuck GH (2016) Sex-Specific Differences in an ApoE(-/-):Ins2(+/Akita) Mouse Model of Accelerated Atherosclerosis. Am J Pathol 186, 67-77

McAlpine C, Huang A, Emdin A, Banko N, Beriault D, Shi Y, Werstuck GH (2015) Deletion of myeloid GSK3α attenuates atherosclerosis and promotes an M2 macrophage phenotype. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 35, 1113-1122.

Veerman KJ, Venegas-Pino DE, Khan MI, Shi Y, Gerstein HC, Werstuck GH (2013) Hyperglycaemia is Associated with Impaired Vasa Vasorum Neovascularisation and Accelerated Atherosclerosis in Apolipoprotein-E Deficient Mice. Atherosclerosis 227, 250-258