Overview

As a pediatric electrophysiologist, my research focuses on the rhythm of the heart. Disturbances in the rhythm of the heart, or arrhythmias, can occur in otherwise healthy children or in children with heart disease. My research aims to improve the outcome of children who have arrhythmias.

Many potentially lethal conditions affecting the heart rhythm are inherited and I work on heritable conditions causing arrhythmias. This research involves collaborations with clinician and basic scientists from all over the world to improve our understanding of inherited heart rhythm disorders.

Research

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
Supraventricular tachycardia remains the most common chronic rhythm disturbance. I was the Principal Investigator on a Heart and Stroke funded multi-site study examining two antiarrhythmia medications in infants with this rhythm disturbance. This study was among very few prospective controlled studies in pediatric electrophysiology. This study led to the creation of the International SVT Pediatric SVT Research Interest group, which continues to support pediatric SVT research.

In the realm of SVT, CIHR-funded collaborations with the cardiac basic science group are ongoing, examining mechanisms of post-operative arrhythmias. This group has isolated cells from a neonatal rabbit’s cardiac conduction system. To our knowledge, the isolation of neonatal AV nodal cells had not been done before.

Sudden unexpected death (SUD)
Sudden death affects about 500000 individuals each year in North America. The vast majority of these cases occur in older individuals with coronary artery disease. An important number of cases, however, are due to hidden heart disease, either latent structural disease or primary electrical heart disease. These disorders are typically due to mutations in the genes responsible for the electrical heart beat and corresponding muscle contraction. The abnormalities predispose the individual to potentially lethal cardiac rhythm abnormalities.

I am part of a national research collaboration examining families of SUD victims to identify the cause of SUD in these families. We have many active research collaborations on sudden death in the young. My clinical work in SUD substrates has led to multidisciplinary collaboration with basic scientists, geneticists, genetic counselors and lay personnel. We have described a novel mutation in a Northern British Columbia community predisposing many individuals to SUD. This work has led to further collaboration, grants and ongoing research. We currently lead an international registry on pediatric catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, a rare, but lethal heart condition.

Working with a group of anesthetists, we examined the effects of anesthetic agents on cardiac repolarization. Abnormalities of repolarization have been linked to sudden death and arrhythmias. This project was one of several projects dealing with cardiac repolarization.

I am a member of the medical advisory for the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) Foundation and serve on the scientific advisory board of the American SADS Foundation. I was the Vice-President of Research for the international Pediatric and Congenital Electrophysiology Society (PACES) prior to serving as president in 2016-17.

Honours & Awards

Resident Research Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, UBC Department of Pediatrics. 2011-2012

Canadian Pacific Has Heart Cardiovascular Award. Heart and Stroke Foundation. Oct 2015

Research Group Members

Laura Brett, Study Coordinator
Sonia Franciosi, Research Associate
Dania Kallas, Graduate Student
Abhay Katyal, Research Assistant
Avani Lamba, Research Assistant
Christopher Li, Co-op Student
Michelle Liu, Research Assistant
Matthew Tester, Research Assistant
Nathan Wei