Western to host Arrhythmia Network

Adela Talbot // Western News

Dr. Allan Skanes, an arrhythmia specialist with London Health Sciences Centre, explains work to be done by the Canadian Arrhythmia Network (CANet), a newly established entity, part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence, to London North Centre MP Susan Truppe, Western President Amit Chakma, Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder and cardiologist Anthony Tang. On Monday, the federal government announced more than $26 million in funding towards CANet, to be housed at Western.

Thanks to funding from the federal government, Western will be the home of the newly established Canadian Arrhythmia Network (CANet), part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE).

The government of Canada announced $26.3 million in funding to establish CANet on Monday, positioning Western – and London – as the national centre for research into the effective diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disturbances, also known as arrhythmias. Arrhythmias include syncope, atrial fibrillation and sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac events lead to approximately 40,000 deaths in Canada each year.

A network of more than 100 researchers across Canada will join together to form CANet at Western. The network will consist of clinicians, researchers, engineers, patients, as well as industry and government partners. This interdisciplinary team of renowned experts sets CANet apart in the field of arrhythmia research and innovation.

“We want to find innovative solutions to be able to allow arrhythmia patients to have the best possible care,” said Dr. Anthony Tang, a professor in the Department of Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Tang, a Lawson Health Research Institute scientist and a cardiologist focusing on heart rhythm disorders at London Health Sciences Centre, will serve as the scientific director and CEO of CANet.

“The information and innovations that come out of this network will be applicable to individuals across the country and around the globe,” he added.

CANet will put the right tools, into the right hands, at the right time, Tang continued, transforming health care and advancing the provision of care for individuals suffering from arrhythmia, at bedside and in the community.

Efficiency, accessibility and sustainability are key aims in arrhythmia health through the CANet partnership. Ultimately, the network aims to reduce mortality rates associated with cardiac arrhythmia, Tang explained.

World-leading efforts in cardiac health are at Western, and in London, and Tang is “set to hit the ground running,” said federal Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder.

Schulich Dean Michael Strong said CANet will play an integral role in London’s “extremely rich history” in the area of cardiology and heart health research, and the network will “take us into an international plateau” in understanding cardiac arrhythmias.

Western President Amit Chakma added London’s history of excellence in arrhythmia care and research means CANet is well positioned at Western, and in the city, and will “allow us to build a critical mass” in the field.

“London is home to Canada’s first arrhythmia clinic, first surgical treatment of ventricular tachycardia, and first to commercialize the implantable loop recorder. This established environment provides the perfect foundation to host CANet at Western,” Chakma said.

In addition to the federal funding, Western has committed $1.2 million to support CANet’s research and operations and will house its administrative offices in the Western Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine.