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The ‘Dragon’s Den’ of health care

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​​​​​ Innovation is a key element of the care the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre
​Innovation is a key element of the care the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC) provides, and the Innovation Committee helps fund novel ideas. (Photo: PMCC)

​​Five ideas submitted.  Three selected.  Just under $160,000 in total funding.  A mere 90 days from idea to submission to approval. That's a snapshot of the latest chapter in the life of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre's (PMCC) Innovation Committee.

Rolled out two years ago, the PMCC's Innovation Committee was quickly dubbed 'the Dragon's Den of healthcare' by the Globe and Mail.  It remains a fitting analogy.

Panel reviews ideas

A 13-member panel made up of medical and business professionals, including:  PMCC's cardiac and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, nurse practitioners and radiologists. It also has financial services and food industry experts, an entrepreneur and a real estate professional. 

The panel convenes four times a year to examine the merit and wider application possibilities of ideas submitted by PMCC staff.

"The goal is to foster innovation within the walls of the hospital --- from those who would know it best: the people that work at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre," said Dr. Harry Rakowski, Chair, PMCC Innovation Committee.

'Facing challenges head-on'

Accustomed to facing challenges frequently and head-on, many hospital staff develop their own approach, enable new processes, or explore the 'bigger picture'.  These solutions are often borne of necessity and ultimately lead to enhanced patient care.

The PMCC Innovation Committee takes the idea of creative problem-solving several steps further.

Innovation costs money

Philanthropy plays a large role in the success of the PMCC Innovation Committee.  "The generosity of donor support is why PMCC's Innovation Committee exists. Quite simply, it is the beating heart," said Dr. Barry Rubin, Medical Director, PMCC.

In just two short years, the Innovation Committee has supported 21 initiatives submitted by PMCC staff, with total funding approaching $3 million. That money is supporting ideas ranging from an aortic valve replacement procedure to next generation stem cell therapy.

One initiative --- blood product conservation in the OR, submitted by Dr. Keyvan Karkouti, Deputy Anesthesiologist-in-Chief, Toronto General Hospital, has achieved notable success including UHN-wide application and consideration by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

"We want to continue to nourish novel thinking and idea-generation among staff," said Dr. Harry Rakowski. "The potential to make a marked impact within the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and externally is significant because of the mission and purpose of this unique Innovation Committee."

Engage and empower staff to share ideas. Create a structure within which those ideas can be exchanged, examined and vetted. This has been a recipe for success for PMCC's Innovation Committee --- one that continues to encourage creativity, empower staff and reap rewards at the bedside and beyond.

To submit your idea to PMCC's Innovation Committee:

Successful applicants supported by PMCC's Innovation Committee to date:

Principal Investigator(s)


Funding Amount


Mark Osten/Eric Horlick

TAVI: Aortic valve replacement



John Floras

Renal denervation procedures



Doug Lee

Smartphone application for heart failure

$ 30,000.00


Keyvan Karkouti

Blood product conservation in the OR

$ 95,000.00


Adrian Kovacs

Website to transition young congenital HD

$ 28,000.00


Terry Yau

Next generation stem cell therapy during bypass surgery

$ 89,000.00


Keiran Murphy

Radiation exposure reduction by vitamin treatment

$ 52,000.00


Narinder Paul

Cardiovascular phantom for CT angiography

$ 50,330.00


KT Tan

Drug eluting balloons for refractory PVD

$ 27,000.00


Richard Weisel

Stem cell therapy for cardiac regeneration



Kumar Nanthakumar

Personalized antiarrhythmic therapy using iPS cells in a novel arrhythmia in dish technique



KT Tan

Image fusion of preprocedural CTA with real-time fluoroscopy to enhance EVAR repair

$ 54,000.00

Funding approval pending

Elsie Nguyen,
Ming Yen Ng,
Ravi Menezes

Relaxation music to lower heart rate prior to cardiac CT

$ 21,300.00


Sacha Bhatia

Educating physicians on appropriate use of echocardiography



Tracey Colella

My cardiac recovery (MyCR): A clinical application for post cardiac surgery patients

$ 54,750.00


Massimiliano Meineri,
Annette Vegas,
Wendy Tsang,
Gordon Tait

Development of interactive online modules for learning 3D transesophageal echocardiography and the assessment of cardiac pathology with 3D and 2D transesophageal Echocardiography

$ 99,450.00


Robert Krensky,
Vivek Rao

Seville recovery unit: Improved blood conservation strategies in the CV OR



Narinder Paul

Validation of a dynamic heart phantom: Stage 2 funding.

$ 62,300.00


Vijay Chauhan

FAST Mapping of Atrial Fibrillation

$ 19,800.00


Bernd Wintersperger Narinder Paul

Dual Energy CT Quantitation of Myocardial Fibrosis



Rob Nolan, Heather Ross

Pilot Study to Improve Heart Failure Patient Engagement via eCounselling




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