William McIntyre is a cardiologist who plans to focus on arrhythmia research and treatment – making him one of CANet’s Highly Qualified Personnel. We spoke to him about his work and the research award he received at the 2015 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto.
Tell us a little bit about where you’re currently training.
I’m in my final year of cardiology training at the University of Manitoba. On July 1, 2016, I will begin a combined clinical and research fellowship in cardiac electrophysiology at McMaster University and the Population Health Research Institute.
What is your educational/professional background?
I was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick and attended Fredericton High School. After receiving my Bachelor of Science degree from Mount Allison University in 2006, I moved to Queen’s University where I completed Medical School and Internal Medicine Residency. I’ve been in the adult cardiology program at the University of Manitoba since July 2013.
What is your current role? Are you still a “trainee”?
I’m currently Chief Adult Cardiology Resident at the University of Manitoba. I’m still a “trainee”. I have 8 months left in my cardiology fellowship, then three years of clinical and research training in arrhythmia. I am hopeful that this plan will give me the skills to land a job, but the game is always changing and you never know!
Tell us about the award you just won.
I’m honoured to have won first place in both the judge-awarded and audience-awarded competitions at the CCS-Bayer Vascular forum at CCC. After submitting a short proposal, I was among the three finalists that had to present in front of the judges. The other two presenters gave great talks, and I was in tough. I got amazing coaching from my project mentor, Jeff Healey who taught me about the ins and outs of “grantsmanship” and prepared me to make my pitch on the big stage. I also had tremendous support from my mentors and colleagues in Winnipeg – they pushed me to go as far as I can and came out in droves to vote in the audience-awarded competition.
The award was a $30,000 research grant. I am looking forward to using it to run a pilot study to investigate atrial fibrillation (AF) that occurs transiently with stress (AFOTS). AF is frequently seen for the first time in the setting of an acute stressor like pneumonia. When the stressing condition resolves, so does the AF, and we are left wondering “Does this patient really have AF and therefore a stroke risk that we can reduce with oral anticoagulation therapy?”. We’ve created an observational protocol with matched controls where we will use long-term patch ECG monitoring that we hope will help us establish the true prevalence of AF in this population. This project is going to be a great learning opportunity for me and I am hopeful that it will generate the knowledge to help a lot of patients when all is said and done.
Why does the field of arrhythmia interest you?
The prospect of being a clinical investigator in arrhythmia is exciting because it means you get to have 5 jobs. You’re a cardiologist, you’re a device implanter, you are a rhythm ablater, you’re a teacher, and you are a researcher.
The field itself is fascinating. The burden of heart rhythm disease is huge, and can affect patients from all walks and stages of life. As a community, we already have so much data and technology that we can use to help patients, but there is a need for so much more.
Any final thoughts?
I’m really excited about doing my arrhythmia and research training in the context of CANet’s commitment to development of Highly Qualified Personnel. Researchers like Adrian Baranchuk at Queen’s and Colette Seifer in Winnipeg have stoked a fire of curiosity in me and pushed me to go as far as my talents and opportunities can go. The CANet experience is going to be special because it is set up to link clinical expertise with patient needs, the innovation of industry and engineering and the know-how in government, healthcare administration and the social sciences. We have the capacity to take concepts from patients and providers, test them and implement them in the healthcare system. I’m eager for the skill set that will allow me to help develop ideas in this team setting and bring them to the Canadian patients and caregivers that are waiting for them.