Government of Canada kicks off Heart Health Month with investments in heart research

News Release

Investment of $2.9 million will fund 5 research projects at University of Ottawa Heart Institute

February 2, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Heart disease is the second-leading cause of death in Canada, and research in this area is an important tool in improving the lives of Canadians affected by this disease. Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced an investment of almost $2.9 million to fund five research projects that will support new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat heart disease.

Minister Philpott made the announcement during a tour of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute at the start of Heart Health Month. She was joined by three Members of Parliament – the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; Anita Vandenbeld, MP for Ottawa West-Nepean; and Mark Holland, MP for Ajax.

The investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will fund five cutting-edge research projects:

  • Dr. David Birnie received over $600,000 to conduct the first study of its kind in the world to learn more about cardiac sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that can cause sudden death
  • Dr. Wenbin Liang received $577,000 to study how to develop more effective therapies for treating irregular heartbeats, a condition which affects over 1 million Canadians
  • Dr. Ruth McPherson received $263,000 to research new ways to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects around 20 per cent of Canadian adults and increases the risk of heart disease
  • Dr. Katey Rayner received almost $980,000 to study how to diagnose and treat the buildup of plaque in the arteries before a heart attack happens
  • Dr. Benjamin Rotstein received over $462,000 to develop new imaging techniques to identify plaque buildup in arteries which have the potential to lead to heart attack or stroke


"We are committed to supporting world-class health research in Canada, including the important work being done at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute – one of our country's top cardiac care and research facilities."  
- The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

"The grant recipients we are celebrating today are advancing scientific discovery through their ground-breaking research, and translating this research into better health and patient care for Canadians. I salute their efforts in creating an environment where research is brought from bench to bedside in such a seamless and efficient way."
- Dr. Alain Beaudet
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

"Today's funding announcement from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is truly a shot in the arm for Canada's health innovation during this critical time. It is also timely and enabling for the world-class, life-changing research at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, and a testament to the hard work from our research teams in seeking solutions to eradicate heart disease."
- Dr. Peter Liu
Chief Scientific Officer, and Vice President of Research
University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Quick Facts

  • More than 1.6 million Canadians have heart disease. It is the second-leading cause of death in Canada after cancer
  • Nine in 10 Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Four in 10 have three or more risk factors
  • You can reduce your risk of developing heart disease through not smoking, exercising, developing healthy eating habits and learning to cope with stress in a healthy way


Andrew MacKendrick
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Vincent Lamontagne
Director, Corporate Communications
University of Ottawa Heart Institute
Phone: 613-761-4427
Cell: 613-899-6760

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute has flourished into one of Canada's most distinguished heart health centres for the unparalleled care it provides to its patients, a world-renowned research Institute that brings science from bench to bedside, and the country's main influencer when it comes to preventing heart disease. Its promise remains the very pillar on which it was built: Always putting patients first.

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