Emily Fox and Katie Shea
Emily Fox, (L) Age: 35, Born: Windsor, Heart disease: Mitral valve prolapse, Diagnosed: June 2018, Treatment: Medication; Katie Shea, Age: 42, Born: Ottawa, Heart disease: Dilated cardiomyopathy, Diagnosed: November 2018, Treatment: Defibrillator implant and medication. (Photo: Tim Fraser)

Emily Fox and Katie Shea have a lot in common. They're young, hardworking and active — and they also both have heart disease.

On the outside, they're strikingly similar, but on the inside, at the very cellular level, they are completely different. These differences matter.

Right now, two people could arrive at the hospital and get diagnosed with heart disease, yet one might respond well to treatment, while the other does not. One person could be discharged from the hospital the next day, while the other, despite receiving the same treatment, could require immediate transfer to the intensive care unit and die within days.

"It's hard to understand why patients respond so differently to the same treatment," says Dr. Phyllis Billia, Director of Research at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC).

Fortunately, the Centre is conducting crucial research that will one day allow doctors to use a patient's unique genetic composition to dictate what treatment they receive. It's called precision medicine, a term that has been around the medical community for a decade, but it's at the PMCC where meaningful progress is being made.

According to Dr. Billia, precision medicine will help us answer many of the most pressing, and still unsolved, medical questions. This approach, which includes metabolomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and wholegene sequencing, will allow scientists to better understand the unique characteristics of every individual patient.

As Co-Director of the PMCC biobank, Dr. Billia has overseen the acquisition of 150,000 patient blood and tissue samples — samples that will allow doctors to map human disease. This information, combined with the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, will help the team at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre better decide how to treat two patients who may seem similar, like Emily and Katie, but who might need to be administered very different treatments in order to see the best outcome.

Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Annual Report 2020 

Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Annual Report featured in The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business.

The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is a leader in cardiovascular care, helping patients now and well into the future. Teaming up with ALLCAPS Content, the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre 2020 Annual Report highlights how the Centre is working to meet the needs of patients today while anticipating and responding to what they need one, five and 10 years into the future. Flip through to read featured stories about cutting-edge research, medical innovations, and the dedication and courage of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre’s staff and patients. It is now available online.

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