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Led for decades by Stuart Connolly, PHRI has established novel oral anticoagulants for treating atrial fibrillation (AF), set up the first global registry to identify regional differences in AF, as well as changed Canadian clinical guidelines to eliminate defibrillation testing at the time of ICD insertion (SIMPLE study), and more.

We are investigating cardiac arrhythmias with related complications including heart failure, as well as how we should treat subclinical atrial fibrillation (SCAF) to prevent strokes.

Team Members in Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

Stuart Connolly

Senior Scientist

Stuart Connolly
Senior Scientist

Stuart Connolly is a Professor of Medicine at McMaster University and a cardiac electrophysiologist at Hamilton Health Sciences. He became a faculty member at McMaster University in 1983 and was awarded a full professorship in 1994. He was also appointed as the inaugural holder of the Salim Yusuf Chair in Cardiology at McMaster University.

He has published more than 270 scientific articles in the field, and is currently a member of the editorial boards for a number of prominent cardiology journals, including Heart, the American Heart Journal and the Journal of Pacing and Electrophysiology. His main research interests are focused on the evaluation of treatments for heart rhythm disorders. His academic career has been largely devoted to the design and execution of controlled clinical trials in this area.

He holds a Masters degree from Fordham University, New York, and an MD from McGill University in Montreal. He received his specialist training in cardiology at the University of Toronto and at Stanford University.

Jeff Healey

Senior Scientist

Jeff Healey
Senior Scientist

Jeff Healey is a Senior Scientist in the Arrhythmia and Heart Failure research program at PHRI, an Associate Professor, Medicine, McMaster University, and Director of Arrhythmia Services at Hamilton  Health Sciences. His research involves conducting RCTs and large registries in the fields of atrial fibrillation and cardiac devices. He was the lead author of the SIMPLE trial, published in the Lancet in 2015, which demonstrated that implantable defibrillators could be safely inserted without performing intra-operative defibrillation testing.

He was the lead author of the ASSERT trial, published in New England Journal of Medicine in 2012, demonstrating the increased stroke risk associated with sub-clinical atrial fibrillation detected by pacemakers. Thomson-Reuters recognized ASSERT as the 38th most-cited scientific publication in 2012 (#16 in Medicine).

He was principal investigator and chair of the Canadian Stroke Prevention Intervention Network (CSPIN), a ten-year network grant funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Industry. He is the past co-chair of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society’s Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines Committee. Jeff has published more than 185 manuscripts.

David Conen

Scientist

David Conen
Scientist

David Conen is an investigator at PHRI, and Associate Professor, Medicine, McMaster University. A clinical cardiologist with training in performing echocardiography, David’s research involves the conduct of large epidemiological cohort studies to study risk factors for the occurrence of atrial fibrillation and its consequences. He is also interested in clinical trials on therapies to prevent atrial fibrillation and the complications associated with the arrhythmia.

He received numerous prestigious grants in Switzerland and is the Principal Investigator of a large national cohort study to assess the relationship between atrial fibrillation and cognitive decline (Swiss-AF). He also leads another large cohort study of young and healthy individuals (GAPP), with a key focus on assessing risk factors for the development of cardiovascular risk factors in the general population.

Harriette Van Spall

Scientist

Harriette Van Spall
Scientist

Harriette Van Spall is a Scientist for the Arrhythmia and Heart Failure research program and the Knowledge Translation and Health Systems program at PHRI, an Associate Professor, Department of Medicine (cardiology) at McMaster University. Her research, supported by CIHR and the Ministry of Health, is in quality of care and outcomes, knowledge translation, and health systems improvement pertaining to heart failure. She has won several research awards, and her work has been published in high-impact medical journals, including JAMA, Lancet, Circulation, and Annals of Internal Medicine.

She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed postgraduate training in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Echocardiography at the University of Toronto.

Philip Joseph

Investigator

Philip Joseph
Investigator

Philip Joseph’s research interests include cardiovascular prevention, global health, heart failure, and cardiac imaging. He is the principal investigator for the PURE-AF substudy, and the SPECT-MINS study, an investigator in the PURE study, and the G-CHF registry. He is also the project officer for the TIPS-3 study. He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, with certification in both internal medicine and cardiology. obtained his B.A.Sc at McMaster University in 2000, and his M.D. at Western University in 2004. His internal medicine (2004-2007) and cardiology (2007-2010) residencies were completed at the University of Ottawa. Subsequently, he completed additional clinical training in Nuclear Cardiology at McMaster University (2013), a M.Sc. in Health Research Methodology at McMaster (2010-13), and a post-doctoral research fellowship in PET imaging at Harvard University (2015).

Jorge Wong

Investigator

Jorge Wong
Investigator

Jorge Wong is a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist at Hamilton Health Sciences, as well as an investigator in the Arrhythmia and Heart Failure program at PHRI. His research interests focus primarily on the intersection between atrial fibrillation and heart failure, atrial fibrillation epidemiology and catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. His current research program, PROTECT-HF, is examining the relationship between subclinical atrial fibrillation and heart failure re-hospitalization. Jorge holds research grants from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and Hamilton Health Sciences.

He obtained his MD at McMaster, followed by his internal medicine and cardiology training at the University of Western Ontario. He subsequently completed his clinical electrophysiology fellowship at the University of Calgary and at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He has a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Health Research Methods at McMaster.

Alexander Benz

Research Fellow

Alexander Benz
Research Fellow

Alexander Benz joined the Arrhythmia Research group at PHRI, supervised by Stuart Connolly, as a research fellow in January 2019, and is enrolled in the Health Research Methodology program at McMaster University. His primary research interest is clinical electrophysiology, with a particular focus on atrial fibrillation. Other areas of interest include oral anticoagulation in various settings, inflammation, cardiac implantable electronic devices and interventions such as catheter ablation.

He is actively involved in the conduct of large international clinical trials coordinated at PHRI. Alexander is the Principal Investigator of a randomized clinical trial testing a short-course treatment with colchicine in the setting of catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation that started enrollment in January 2020.

Alexander obtained his medical degree from Goethe University in Frankfurt (Germany) in 2015. He is pursuing a career in Cardiology.

William McIntyre

Investigator

William McIntyre
Investigator

William McIntyre, a cardiologist, is an Investigator in the Arrhythmia and Heart Failure research program at PHRI, and in the Clinician Investigator Program at McMaster University. His research interests include atrial fibrillation – including screening, detection and cardioversion, cardiac devices and methods in randomized clinical trials.

He holds fellowship awards from CIHR and the Canadian Stroke Prevention Intervention Network (C-SPIN). He holds research grants from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) Atrial Fibrillation Awards Program and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. William has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, and was the 2018 Recipient of the CCS Trainee Excellence in Education Award.  He completed Medical School and Internal Medicine Residency at Queen’s University, and his adult cardiology residency at the University of Manitoba.

Tara McCready

Program Director

Tara McCready
Program Director

Tara McCready, PhD, oversees a variety of collaborative programs at PHRI, and serves as Project Manager for PHRI research studies and registries.

She was recruited to PHRI as a Program Director for the Canadian Network and Centre for Trials Internationally (CANNeCTIN), a national network funded by the CIHR/CFI Clinical Research Initiative program to improve the prevention and treatment of cardiac and vascular diseases and diabetes.

Previously the Executive Director of the Canadian Maternal, Infant, Child and Youth Research Network, Tara holds a PhD in Biochemistry and a MBA in Technology Commercialization from the University of Alberta.

Heather Beresh

Associate Program Manager

Heather Beresh
Associate Program Manager

Heather Beresh has worked at PHRI since May 2002, largely devoted to managing global, multi-centre clinical trials of antithrombotic therapies in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). She started as research coordinator for the ACTIVE study evaluating dual antiplatelet therapy and angiotensin receptor blockers in patients with AF, then continued with oversight of the AVERROES open label extension trial evaluating a novel oral anticoagulant in the same population, and ARTESiA evaluating anticoagulant therapy in patients with subclinical AF.

In addition, she has coordinated trials of ablation procedures versus anti-arrhythmic medications and trials evaluating screening strategies for AF. Heather also manages network collaborations, including the Canadian Stroke Prevention Intervention Network (CSPIN). She has as a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences from McMaster University.

Jessica Vincent

Associate Program Manager

Jessica Vincent
Associate Program Manager

Jessica Vincent has more than 15 years’ experience in coordinating and managing large, international clinical trials. As Associate Program Manager, she oversees interventional trials, registries, and observational research studies in the areas of perioperative medicine, cardiac surgery, and digital health.

She holds an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree from Queens University, and a Master of Clinical Epidemiology Degree from the University of Newcastle.

completed

ACTIVE A

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

The objective of the ACTIVE A study was to determine the efficacy of clopidogrel plus...

completed

ACTIVE I

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

The objective of the ACTIVE I study was to determine the efficacy (superiority) of Irbesartan...

completed

ACTIVE W

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

The objective of the ACTIVE W study was to determine the efficacy (noninferiority) of clopidogrel...

completed

AF HTN Pilot

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

The objective of the AF-HTN Pilot study was to compare current guideline-based treatment of blood...

completed

ASSERT

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

The objective of the ASSERT study was to evaluate the hypothesis among patients with a...

completed

ASSERT II

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

Patients with known cardiovascular risk factors and left atrial enlargement, but without prior atrial fibrillation...

completed

ASSERT III

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

In the ASSERT study, subclinical Atrial Fibrillation (SCAF) detected by a pacemaker over a prolonged...

completed

AVERROES

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

The objective of the AVERROES study was to determine if apixaban 5 mg BID (2.5...

completed

AVERROES – LTOLE

Arrhythmia and Heart Failure

The objective of the AVERROES LTOLE study was to provide ongoing open-label apixaban therapy to...

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