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Unlocking the secrets of the heart with genetic reprogramming

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Unlocking the secrets of the heart with genetic reprogramming
Dr. Phyllis Billia

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Dr. Phyllis Billia’s unique research into heart regeneration holds great promise

If the title “Heart Whisperer” existed, it would belong to Dr. Phyllis Billia.

While most physicians only listen to the heart, Dr. Billia is unlocking its secrets, modifying its behaviour and persuading the heart to regenerate.

It’s not that the physician needs yet another title.

She’s a clinical cardiologist, caring for patients at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC).

She’s Co-Director of the Peter Munk Cardiovascular Biobank, which provides living tissue and blood for research.

She’s the mother of a 13-year old daughter and the wife of a physician with a private practice.

She’s a medical volunteer, travelling with her husband and daughter every year to British Guyana, where she works at a heart function clinic, tending to patients with heart failure.

And she is a scientist, a PhD in biochemistry, researching the genetic pathway to heart regeneration though heart cell proliferation, which, until recently, was regarded as almost impossible, and the Director of Research at the PMCC.

Working in the cardiac clinic, Dr. Billia is acutely aware of the toll of heart failure. It’s the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in North America. Heart failure patients have poor quality of life and a poor prognosis.