At the heart of it all

Research drives the majority of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre’s world-leading innovations. Here’s what a few of the Centre’s researchers are working on.

The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre’s renowned physicians and researchers are focused on doing whatever it takes to ensure timely and individualized patient care. Researchers are now harnessing data and artificial intelligence (AI) to not only develop new treatments but also hopefully one day eliminate heart disease altogether.

Slava Epelman

The predictor

Dr. Slava Epelman

Cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, scientist at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and Loretta Rogers Chair in Immuno-Bioengineering

The goal: Combatting viral infections that impact the heart.

The Research: People don't realize that viruses such as hepatitis or, in rare cases, a cold, can attack the heart, but thanks to Dr. Slava Epelman, that's changing.

Dr. Epelman, who was recently named one of the most highly cited researchers around the world, and his team are conducting research into how viruses attack the heart and how cardiac immune cells regenerate after injury. After a heart attack, the heart uses immune cells to remove dying tissue and promote healing, but some can also cause heart failure.

He's using AI to analyze the genes from these immune cells and develop algorithms that can predict what a patient's heart might do after it's damaged. "We're trying to understand why some people can be fine for a long time, while others get worse quickly," he explains.

With COVID-19, this research has become more critical. "There's a huge percentage of COVID-19 patients with no previous health conditions getting MRIs months later, and about 80 per cent have heart involvement," he says. Once cardiac risk factors for COVID-19 are identified, Dr. Epelman and his team will study therapies, such as inflammation-reducing medications.