March 2, 2022

Cardiovascular Physiology Core at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute

Core provides access to vascular and cardiac surgeries, echocardiograms and pressure volume tests and other lab work
Dr. Darrell Belke
Dr. Darrell Belke runs the Core Physiology Lab at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute

UCalgary researchers who need access to vascular and cardiac surgeries, echocardiograms and pressure volume tests in mice and rats, as well as tissue blocks and other lab work, need look no further than the Cardiovascular Physiology Core at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute.

Led by Dr. Darrell Belke, PhD, the core works with researchers both within and outside the Libin Institute and has been involved in many exciting research projects.

One recent project is investigating the potential of injecting exosomes into the pericardial fluid surrounding the heart as a protective factor following a heart attack. Another focuses on repairing damage to the heart following a heart attack. A third is looking at the detection of aortic aneurysms, bulges in the aorta that are often symptomless and, if they rupture, may be fatal. 

“It is exciting being involved with different projects,” says Belke, who added that working with students is especially enjoyable. 

Belke began his research career in 1984 when he started his graduate studies. He had a special focus on the physiology of the heart and graduated with an MSc in Zoology and a PhD in Pharmacology.

Decades later, Belke still loves his career and notes there have been numerous exciting changes to his research over the years.

“Studying the heart has taken a leap forward in recent years, primarily due to access to new technologies,” he says. “Everyday is Christmas when you look at an animal and see it completely differently because of advances in technology.”

These new technologies include things like flow cytometry, a technology that measures and analyzes multiple physical characteristics of single particles, usually cells, as they flow in a fluid stream through a beam of light.

The core also contains imaging devices, such as a Vivo 3100 echo machine, which can provide live images of a beating heart.

Belke says he even works with researchers to determine if their projects are feasible.

The Cardiovascular Physiology Core is in HRIC GB 41B at the University of Calgary’s Foothills Campus. For more information or to discuss a project, reach out to Belke at

Dr. Darrell Belke, PhD

Dr. Darrell Belke working in the lab.

Dawn Smith/Libin Cardiovascular Institute