Isabela Roque Marçal is a PhD student in Human Kinetics in the Exercise Physiology and Cardiovascular Health Lab at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Isabela is driven by the well-established benefits of exercise in improving the health and well-being of people with cardiovascular disease. Her current research lab introduced her to the world of exercise physiology, focusing on sex differences and gender-related factors in this population. Importantly, Isabela states that women are under-represented in science and that there is a need for sufficient samples of them in exercise trials. For the next few years, Isabela is committed to addressing this issue by working to facilitate exercise prescription, participation, clinical guidelines, and understanding of the needs of women with cardiovascular disease in research.
Isabela is also one of the CHAT Travel Award Winners. She goes on to say, “this amazing opportunity allowed me to present our work “Exploring the Associations Between Gender-related Variables and Physical Activity Levels in Women With Atrial Fibrillation” at the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD) 2022.
My first international conference as a PhD student led me to acquire new and important knowledge regarding sex differences and gender-related factors, sharing novel research and clinical ideas, enhancing my experiences, and positive impacting my academic training progress.”
When asked about what it means to be a CHAT member, Isabela says, “My short experience being a CANet has been incredible. I became a member as soon as I moved to Canada to start my PhD studies, as many colleagues endorsed the importance of their health initiatives. Weekly newsletters, featured trainees, and most importantly, awards to postgraduate students, help us to improve our knowledge, network, and research skills, and consequently, strengthen our career development.”
When she’s not working, Isabela enjoys going to the gym, practicing outside activities, watching shows, games, and movies, gathering with friends, and video calling her family. To stay up-to-date on Isabela and her journey as a researcher, follow her on Twitter @isabelarmarcal
Jake is a Clinical Research Coordinator at Victoria Cardiac Arrhythmia Trials located in Victoria, BC. Jake’s research interests currently relate to arrhythmias, and most commonly atrial fibrillation. His career in research began at the University of Victoria where he enjoyed creating novel chemicals for application in quantum sciences, and applying the scientific method to advance our understanding of the world we live in.
When asked about being a CHAT member, Jake says, “Being a part of the CANet CHAT community has given me an opportunity to connect with like minded individuals and grow my perspective on patient care and opportunities for research.”
Jake enjoys cooking, Brazilian Jiu Jitstu, and volunteering as a chef at a local community centre.
Amy Johnston (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa and a doctoral trainee at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Amy holds a Master of Science with a specialization in Health Services Research and a Master of Biomedical Technology, both from the University of Calgary. In 2018, she earned professional certification in Public Health, administered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (Washington, DC).
Building on her PhD training in epidemiology and leveraging her prior academic and translational experience, Amy’s career aspirations are to obtain a tenure-track appointment within a Canadian academic institution as an independent researcher in the field of women’s cardiovascular health. Her goal is to develop and lead an innovative independent research program that will not only increase the understanding of unique cardiovascular risks for women, but one that will also make positive impacts on the health and well-being of women in Canada and worldwide. Amy currently holds a CIHR Doctoral Award and was also awarded the Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Award (declined) in 2020. Her latest publication in the CJC Open examines the use of race, ethnicity, and national origin in studies assessing cardiovascular risk in women with a history of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
When asked about being a CHAT Trainee, Amy states, “CANet CHAT offers several valuable resources and exciting opportunities for trainees who do arrhythmia-related research. From travel and publication awards to workshops and important networking opportunities with other trainees, clinicians, and researchers- there is something for everyone to benefit from! If you want to take advantage of opportunities to help strengthen your research and enhance your career development, I encourage all trainees engaged in arrhythmia-related research to consider joining the CANet CHAT community.”
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, volunteering as an Adaptive Ski Instructor with the Canadian Adaptive Snowsports, running, and learning about ‘all things dinosaur’ from her 4-year-old aspiring paleontologist. You can follow Amy on Twitter @AmyDJohn and stay up to date on her research at her website dedicated to women’s cardiovascular research.
Kim is a Senior Diagnostic Imaging Technologist, H&S BLS Instructor, Founder/President of Project Brock Society and Researcher. Kim received her BSc in Radiography and completed her MA in Leadership (Health Specialization) through Royal Roads University in 2020. Her capstone was a research project titled ‘Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness and Management in Schools’. One of the next steps determined in that research was the need for a pilot project. A team of researchers have joined in a cross-Canada project, and Kim is the Alberta Lead with Dr. Ian Blanchard as Co-Investigator. They are working on a pilot study to assess the feasibility of training in bystander CPR and AED use in middle and high schools across Canada.
What led to Kim’s research interests? Her son. On May 22, 2012, Kim’s 16-yr-old son, Brock, collapsed in his school gym during a volleyball practice with his friends. He died of sudden cardiac arrest while the available AED sat unused by his side. Learning the details of his collapse, listening to his 911 call, and retracing the bystander and EMS responses inspired Kim’s determination to find ways to increase SCA survival rates and build support.
“Following my son’s death I was absolutely gobsmacked to learn that children could die of cardiac arrest”, Kim says. “As a healthcare provider and a mother, I felt a deep sense of guilt, failure, and isolation. Over time, I was inspired to do more through meeting other parents, SCA survivors, health care professionals, and researchers working to create change in this heart-safe space. In 2015, I was invited to join a CANet collaboration on a project titled ‘CANet Project to stop sudden death in the young’ which inspired my interest in further research efforts.
As a passionate advocate for increasing SCA survival, it is important to be a part of the CANet CHAT community to learn about the enormous scope of cardiac related research. It provides a window to others working in this field, which helps to break down the sense of isolation and futility when I am feeling disheartened or frustrated with how slowly change seems to happen. It is humbling to be linked to so many brilliant researchers and delightful humans that are working to improve survival and happy neurological outcomes.”
Kim began a non-profit organization called Project Brock Society, with the vision to promote awareness and education surrounding sudden cardiac arrest, basic life support and automated external defibrillator use.
Following Brock’s death Kim collaborated with the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED), and with the support of Alberta Health Services that continued to share Brock’s 911 call with new emergency medical dispatch (EMD) recruits. This has resulted in ongoing teaching using his call, and distribution of ‘Brock’s Law’ to over 29,000 dispatchers worldwide. This addition to Protocol 9, utilized by EMD’s, is included here (picture right).
Kim is grateful that this work in Brock’s memory has positively impacted the survival outcome of others. In her free time, Kim enjoys spending time with her kids, finding new friends, cooking, reading, writing, painting, pottery, renovating, farming, hiking, and traveling. To stay up-to-date with Kim and her work, follow her @RuetherKim on Twitter.
Muneeb is a 2nd-year medical student at McMaster University. His interest in research began during his undergraduate studies at McMaster University where he pondered the barriers which clinicians face to integrating their theoretical knowledge with patients’ lived experiences. These thoughts drove Muneeb into research where he could explore and find his own answers to these questions.
His current research interests include working in evidence-based medicine, simulation-based learning for medical education and being involved in randomized controlled trials evaluating topics in arrhythmia. He plans to pursue a clinician-investigator career and leverage his experiences working in evidence-based medicine to become a better clinician.
When asked about joining CHAT, Muneeb said, “CANet offers resources tailored for members at all stages of training. This includes access to its Canada-wide network of experts in arrhythmias, allowing CHAT members to network with peers and meet new mentors.”
He added, “Furthermore, CHAT has several awards that facilitate further growth in a trainee’s academic career including the CANet Travel Award. This generous award provided me with the opportunity to present our research at the 71st Annual Scientific Session & Expo hosted by the American College of Cardiology in Washington, DC. I had the privilege of speaking to and learning from various experts in many different sub specialties within medicine.”
Muneeb’s recent research was published in the BMJ in November 2021. The publication, Discordant and inappropriate discordant recommendations in consensus and evidence based guidelines: empirical analysis, investigated guidelines developed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The study found that consensus-based guidelines produced more recommendations violating the evidence-based medicine principles than evidence-based guidelines.
Beyond being a medical student and aspiring clinician-investigator, Muneeb enjoys sports and is an avid Toronto Raptors fan. In his spare time, he likes to read and highly recommends the book, The Death of Ivan Ilyich. He also enjoys watching stand up comedy, particularly Jon Stewart.
Katherine is a 3rd-year Biology Undergraduate Student at Carleton University & Research Assistant at the University of Ottawa. She has an interest in research that focuses on improving the experiences of patients as they navigate the Canadian health care system. Her passions have led her to work in a research group completing qualitative research that explores the experiences of next-of-kin of young sudden cardiac death victims as they learn about their relatives’ cause of death and their personal risk for heritable cardiac conditions.
Katherine was recently awarded the CHAT Travel Award to present her team’s research on Learning About Cause Of Death Of Young Sudden Cardiac Death Victims: A Qualitative Study Of Families’ Experiences at this year’s Heart Rhythm 2022.
When asked about CHAT, Katherine said “The CHAT community has allowed me to connect with and learn from senior researchers. Additionally, as a CHAT trainee, I was awarded the CHAT Travel Award, which allowed me to travel to San Francisco to attend and present my team’s research at Heart Rhythm 2022.”
Outside of her career and current studies, Katherine is a high-performance cross-country skier racing for Équipe Nakkertok Racing Group (ENRG) and a varsity skier for Carleton University. She spends her winters racing at events across North America.
Dominique de Waard is a 2nd-Year Resident in Cardiac Surgery at Dalhousie University. She joined the CHAT community in 2017 as a medical student while working on a project that looked at the effect of cardiac resynchronization therapy in women. This trial, Cardiac Resynchronization in Women: A Substudy of the Resynchronization-Defibrillation for Ambulatory Heart Failure Trial, was ultimately published in the JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology Journal in 2019. During her educational experience, she recognized the potential for change that research provides as well as the positive impact on patients.
“Throughout my undergraduate degree and medical school, I had many research opportunities which helped broaden my knowledge and allowed me to explore different types of research”, Dominique says. “As a CHAT trainee, I was awarded a CANet Travel Award, which provided me with the opportunity to attend a national research meeting and present our research. I met many CHAT members during the conference who were all welcoming and supportive. I also attended a CANet Annual Scientific Conference where I was touched by the involvement of patients and family members. It was inspiring to hear their stories and highlighted the importance of advancing research.”
“I have had an interest in research since my early undergraduate days where I was inspired by researchers at a local children’s hospital. With a focus on quality improvement and an eagerness to explore new areas of research, I plan to pursue a master’s during my residency that is focused on implementation science and qualitative research.”
Outside of cardiac surgery and research, Dominique has a passion for gardening. She explains that there is nothing more peaceful than tending to her plants for a few hours a week or as exciting as watching a new flower bloom.
Sina Safabakhsh is a 3rd year medical student at the University of British Columbia. His interests lie in the pathophysiological mechanisms driving atrial fibrillation using mass spectrometry with the goal of identifying molecular signatures that may serve as therapeutic or diagnostic targets. Moreover, he is interested in the recent research on the clinical management of patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy leading to follow up mechanistic studies of this patient population. He is excited to learn more about single cell RNA sequencing technology to characterize this disease process and look for novel cellular processes that can further our understanding of this condition and pave the way for improved therapies.
“I enjoy being a part of the CANet’s CHAT community because it connects me with experts across all aspects of the management and research of cardiac arrhythmias”, Sina states. “Patients, providers caring for those with arrhythmias, and researchers studying these processes at the cellular or population level all have a unique contribution to improving the lives of those living with arrhythmias.”
“To communicate and learn from these sources motivates me to strive for excellence as a trainee clinician and scientist. Apart from the strong sense of shared purpose that CHAT provides, the funding opportunities and resources on digital health innovations are further reasons to join this vibrant community!”
In his spare time, Sina enjoys going for runs, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. He is also a big fan of podcasts including, This American Life, The Hidden Brain, Heavyweight, Freakonomics, and Philosophize This!
Kate is currently enrolled in the Leaders in Medicine program at the University of Calgary, allowing her to complete both her PhD and MD training. After this program, her career goal is to become a clinician-scientist researching women’s cardiovascular health.”
“Being a member of the CANet Trainee (CHAT) community has allowed me to connect with investigators and other trainees from across the country, ” Kate expresses. “These valuable connections have allowed me to expand my research network, and build professional relationships.”
“Attending the CANet Annual Scientific Conferences and Trainee/HQP symposiums have provided opportunities for me to develop skills that I have applied directly to my research. I have also had the opportunity to attend international conferences, including the Heart Rhythm Scientific Sessions, through the generous support of the CANet’s CHAT Travel Award.”
Kate’s research focuses on postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). POTS is a debilitating cardiovascular autonomic disorder that primarily affects young women.
Kate’s publication, “Compression Garment Reduces Orthostatic Tachycardia and Symptoms in Patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome”, was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in January 2021.
While in her graduate studies, she was also accepted into medical school at the University of Calgary.
Kate is also a leader with Girl Guides of Canada, a volunteer Medical First Responder with St. John Ambulance as well as the UCalgary Student Medical Response Team. In her spare time, Kate enjoys playing field hockey, and outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, biking, and orienteering.
Sol is a PhD candidate in Human Kinetics in the at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Sol is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist certified by the American College of Sports Medicine with a strong passion to advance knowledge about the role of exercise training to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.
She completed her undergraduate degree in Sports Science in Valencia, Spain, where she is originally from, and her MSc in Clinical Exercise Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University, in the UK.
“CANet and CHAT offer great support for trainees working in an arrhythmia-related field. Arrhythmias are complex diseases which require multidisciplinary work to improve patient care. This community allows me to connect with other researchers and clinicians involved in the care of arrhythmias but from many different disciplines.
For example, my background is in cardiovascular rehabilitation and how we can use exercise training to improve the health of patients with arrhythmias – this is one of many pieces of the arrhythmia care puzzle. If you need another reason to become a CANet and CHAT member, they have funding opportunities for members including the publication award and a travel award (yes, we are all dreaming of in-person conferences!).”
Sol’s PhD work is focused on sex-based analyses of the effects of exercise on physical and mental health outcomes in patients with Atrial Fibrillation.
Yuchen is a medical student at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine. He received his Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University where he was awarded the Gold Medal.
He is currently undertaking clinical research in cardiac imaging and nuclear cardiology at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute under the tutelage of Rob Beanlands and Robert deKemp.
Yuchen hopes to pursue training and a career as a clinician-scientist in cardiovascular medicine, ultimately serving the Canadian population. Outside of medicine, Yuchen enjoys playing tennis and visiting museums and is currently a violinist in the World Doctors Orchestra.
“Through the CHAT program and their funding support, I have been able to present my research at major conferences including the 2021 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress and engage with international leaders in cardiovascular medicine – both in terms of mentorships with established professionals, and with fellow trainees and the next generation of cardiovascular specialists. I am extremely grateful to CANet and the contributions of so many Canadian cardiovascular specialists for this educational mandate. I hope to contribute and advance the breadth of research and evidence we rely on as clinicians and affirm the role of Canadian institutions, including CANet, as international leaders in cardiovascular research.”
To view a complete list of all CHAT members with additional search and sort capabilities, click here.
Interested in becoming a member of the CANet HQP Association for Trainees (CHAT)? Please download, review, complete, and submit the CANet Trainee Membership (MS Word) form below: