McMaster University

McMaster University

Profiles of the Founders of McMaster Cardiology

accordion icon #110 Dr. Eugene Biagioni


Dr. Eugene Biagioni was born and raised in Hamilton to parents of Tuscan descent.  After pre-medical studies and medical school at the University of Western Ontario, he did a rotating internship at Hamilton General Hospital in 1961-1962, where he met his beloved wife, Eilleen.  Though he intended to go into family practice, mentors such as Dr. Bill Goldberg, Chief of Medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital, encouraged him to pursue the developing field of internal medicine training.  He began internal medicine residency in Cincinnati, and transferred to the Cleveland Clinic to complete additional training and advanced fellowship in Internal Medicine.  This was followed by a fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases, and a fellowship in the nascent field of Interventional Cardiology with Dr. F. Mason Sones, of the eponymous catheter, a pioneer who had performed the first cardiac catheterization just a few years prior, in 1958.  Dr. Biagioni thrived in this environment, learning by osmosis and discussing cases with individuals such as cardiac surgeon Dr. Rene Favoloro.  He also trained alongside individuals who would later bring skills back to the Hamilton community, including surgeon Dr. Al Parisi and one of Hamilton’s first interventional cardiologists, Dr. John Robinson.  

In 1967, although he was offered a position at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Biagioni returned home to Hamilton with his growing family, and started on staff at Hamilton General Hospital in 1968, where he did cardiac catheterization and worked as an internist alongside colleagues such as Dr. Bill Walsh and Dr. Adrian Yaffe.  These were heady days: McMaster Medical School was just starting, and then, in 1975, Dr. Johnson brought Dr. Cairns, Tanser, Holder and Fallen to Hamilton.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

accordion icon #11 Dr. John Cairns
John Cairns

Dr. John Cairns graduated from UBC Medical School in 1968, did his internship at McGill Medical School, and joined the medical school at McMaster in 1975, where he served for 21 years, earning the position of Chair of Medicine. His early research in aspirin and acute coronary syndromes set the stage for one of the most important medical discoveries of this century. He was named Dean of Medicine at UBC in 1996-2003 where he worked closely with UBC and the provincial government to build the rationale and plans for expansion of the Medical School, now underway in partnership with the Universities of Victoria and Northern BC. He is presently serving as Project Leader of the CIHR Clinical research Initiative, directed at strengthening Canada's endeavours in clinical research.

accordion icon #12 Dr. E. Moran Campbell (1925-2004)
E. Moran Campbell

Dr. E. Moran Campbell obtained his MD at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School (now University College Hospital) in London in 1949, and became a foremost lecturer and expert in respiratory physiology, with training at Johns Hopkins in pulmonary gas exchange and respiratory failure. In 1968, the selection committee of the new medical school at McMaster University offered Dr. Campbell the Chair as a founding father of their new medical faculty. His first area of responsibility was to have the revolutionary school accepted by the local medical community, and he is known for setting up the excellent and close relationship now shared by McMaster, Hamilton Health Sciences, and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. He was an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He became a professor emeritus in 1991 and died in 2004.

accordion icon #13 Dr. Stuart Connolly
Stuart Connolly

Dr. Stuart Connolly is the Population Health Research Institute's leading principal investigator for the Arrhythmia research program. Currently, this program leads many large randomized controlled trials of treatment for the management of atrial fibrillation, bradycardia and defibrillator therapy. These trials include more than 40,000 enrolled patients and involve more than 1,000 centers in 40 countries. Dr. Connolly is also a professor of medicine at McMaster University and the Director of the division of Cardiology at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences. Dr. Connolly holds both his Bachelors of Arts and Medical degree from McGill University. Dr. Connolly has led more than two dozen large randomized controlled trials over the past 20 years and has published over 190 articles and 73 abstracts in his career as a medical researcher.

accordion icon #111 Dr. David Crosby
David Crosby

A profile of Dr. David Crosby is forthcoming.

accordion icon #14 Dr. John Evans
John Evans

Dr. John Evans obtained his MD at the University of Toronto, and as Rhodes Scholar, earned a DPhil from Oxford University. He undertook postgraduate training in cardiology in London, Toronto and Boston. In 1965, at just 35 years old, Dr. Evans was named as founding Dean of the new medical faculty at McMaster University, working with a team of young enthusiasts on a revolutionary medical curriculum. When students entered the first year of the program in 1970, they were introduced immediately to patients as the focus and centre of their learning. The curriculum also gave students the freedom to learn at their own pace through self-directed learning methods, and made use of many advanced teaching techniques. Dr. Evans was Dean of Medicine from 1965-1972, and Vice-President of the Faculty of Health Sciences from 1967-1972. He also played a prominent role in international health, conducting studies on ‘population based’ medicine for the Rockefeller Foundation, and served from 1979 to 1983 as director of the Population, Health and Nutrition Department of the World Bank, in Washington, D.C. Dr. Evans served as President of the University of Toronto, from 1972-1978. McMaster University has honoured him with the John R. Evans Chair in Health Sciences Educational Research and Instructional Development. Dr Evans was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2000, and received the 2002 CMA Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Medal, the highest award that the CMA can bestow upon one of its members in recognition of outstanding achievement. Ref: Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

accordion icon #15 Dr. Ernest Fallen
Ernest Fallen

Dr Ernest Fallen, Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine and Cardiology, co-founded and chaired the Regional Cardiovascular Program at McMaster University from 1975 to 2000. Dr. Fallen graduated from Queen’s Medical School, and decided upon the vocation of cardiology while doing a rotating internship at McGill’s Royal Victoria Hospital. Dr. Fallen’s clinical and research career spans decades, and he has written numerous publications including texts on evidence-based cardiology, His special interests have been in clinical neurocardiology, cardiac PET imaging and heart failure. Dr. Fallen has served on a number of international task forces and executive committees and was the chairman of the first consensus conference of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. He was awarded the CCS 2008 Distinguished Teacher Award for supreme dedication and excellence in teaching over the long term. The McMaster Faculty of Medicine and Division of Cardiology have also established the annual Ernest Fallen Award for Teaching Excellence in his honour. Ref: PHRI annual report profile and personal interview

accordion icon #16 Dr. Douglas Holder
Douglas Holder

Ancaster-born interventional cardiologist, Dr Doug Holder trained in cardiology at McGill, and returned to Hamilton to co-found the Department of Cardiology. In 1982 he performed Hamilton’s first coronary angioplasty, and has continued with colleagues to develop tertiary cardiology services in Hamilton. Dr Holder is medical director of the Cardiac and Vascular Program at Hamilton Health Sciences, and lead the expansion of the Heart Investigation Unit (HIU), a 30 bed short-stay associated with the state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization labs at HGH. Dr Holder also serves on the Hamilton Health Sciences Board and has a formalized role as Educational mentor to clinican scientists. He was awarded the prestigious Cornerstone award for extensive contribution to Hamilton’s community. Dr. Holder is also a beloved member of the Hamilton artistic community, contributing his dramatic and musical acoustic guitar skills to numerous benefits and fundraisers for the Hamilton Health Sciences organization. Ref: Hamilton Health Sciences Insider Newsletter

accordion icon #17 Dr. Arnold Johnson (1916 - 2006)
Arnold Johnson

Dr. Arnold Johnson is the father of cardiology in Hamilton. Dr Johnson graduated from McGill Medical School and served as a medical officer in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII. In 1945, he was given leave to pursue postgraduate studies with renowned cardiologist Dr. Paul White in Boston. He returned to Montreal Children’ Hospital where he performed the first heart catheterization in Canada in 1946. He helped to create a cutting-edge research environment: achieving his M.Sc. in the cardiac catheterization of children, developing clinical tools such as internal and external pacemakers and the ear oximeter, and establishing the first comprehensive in-hospital programme in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A founding member and President of the Montreal Cardiac Society, he negotiated the first fee schedules for EKGs with the government at the inception of the Quebec Hospital Insurance Service. He was cross-appointed as a Professor of Paediatrics and of Medicine at McGill. In 1947 Dr. Johnson became the Director of Cardiology at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and in 1958 was named Director of the novel inter-hospital Joint Adult and Pediatric Cardiorespiratory Division.

In 1971, Dr. Johnson’s career turned in a new direction, to the emerging field of clinical epidemiology. He trained as a Senior Fellow in this field at Laval University (studying in French language) from 1971-1973, followed by studies at the University of North Carolina. In 1974, he joined the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University. In this same year, Dr. Johnson approached two of his staff cardiologists at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Dr. Ernest Fallen, Dr. Paul Tanser, and two residents, Dr. John Cairns and Dr. Douglas Holder, to accompany him and help to create the Department of Cardiology at McMaster University. Dr. Johnson remained avidly involved in research, education, and patient care. Upon his retirement in 1983, he was the driving force behind the teaching of ethical decision-making in health care settings, and his initiative, inspiration, dedication and work culminated in the creation of the Arnold L. Johnson Chair in Health Care Ethics. He is also honoured with the annual Arnold L. Johnson Lectureship in Cardiology. Dr. Johnson was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by McMaster University in 2002. Ref: Segall H. Pioneers of Cardiology in Canada 1820-1970, the Genesis of Canadian Cardiology. Hounslow Press 1988.

accordion icon #18 Sir William Osler
William Osler

No medical history of the Hamilton-region would be complete without noting the contributions of its most famous physician, Sir William Osler. Born in Bond Head, Ontario in 1849, he was subsequently raised in Dundas, Ontario. He attended Trinity College at the University of Toronto, enrolled in the private Toronto School of Medicine, then obtained his medical degree at McGill University in 1872. He pursued post-graduate training in Europe then returned as a professor of medicine at McGill, where he created the first formalized Journal Club. In 1884 he was appointed Chair of Clinical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1889, became the first chief of staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Here, he established a time-honoured tradition, the medical residency system, insisting that students learned best from seeing and talking to patients. In 1905 he was appointed to the Regius Chair of Medicine at Oxford University, and was a Fellow of Christ Church, at Oxford. In his spare time, Osler was a prolific author and a great collector of books which were willed to McGill and currently form the core of the William Osler Library of the History of Medicine. Picture of Osler: The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives

accordion icon #19 Dr. Vivian Rambihar
Vivian Rambihar

Dr. Vivian Rambihar was born in Georgetown, British Guyana and immigrated to Canada in 1970. He achieved a B.Sc. at the University of Toronto and graduated in McMaster Medical School's fourth class. Along with Dr. Eric Stanton, he was one of two inaugural cardiology fellows at McMaster in 1978. He continued his studies with Dr. Rakowksi in the early days of echo at the Toronto General Hospital. Early in his career, Dr. Rambihar explored the role of ethnicity in health, particularly the increased and premature burden of coronary disease in South Asian and other populations. Currenty, he uses chaos and complexity science to understand the complex interactions of ethnic heritage, culture, customs, family history, gender, genes, environment, and social dynamics that lead to health and disease, and has spoken on the need for the health community to adopt a broader outlook on health, prevention, and health promotion. Projects such as Global Heart Hour, and his book Tsunami, Chaos and Global Heart: using complexity science to rethink and make a better world( explore this concept . He was awarded the CCS 2007 Dr. Harold N. Segall Award of Merit for his significant contribution to the prevention of cardiovascular disease or to the promotion of cardiovascular health in Canadians. Ref: personal interview.

accordion icon #112 Dr. John Robinson

A profile of Dr. John Robinson is forthcoming.

accordion icon #113 Dr. Brian Sealey

A profile of Dr. Brian Sealey is forthcoming.

accordion icon #20 Dr Eric Stanton

Dr. Eric Stanton hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, pursued an Honours B.Sc. in cell and molecular biology, and graduated in McMaster Medical School’s fifth class.Along with Dr Vivian Rambihar, he was one of two inaugural cardiology fellows at McMaster in 1978. He continued his studies with a Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario Research Fellowship in nuclear medicine. He returned to Sault Ste. Marie to work in a general and invasive cardiology practice, however came back to McMaster in 1987 to create and lead the development of an academic non-invasive cardiology department. His research interests are varied, ranging from initial work on heart failure, to more recently, elucidating molecular aspects of cardiac failure, natriuretic peptides, neuro-hormonal signalling mechanisms, and more. Ref: personal interview.

accordion icon #21 Dr. Paul Tanser
Paul Tanser

A profile of Dr. Paul Tanser is forthcoming.

accordion icon #22 Dr. William Walsh
William Walsh

Cardiologist-Internist Dr. William Walsh is a fourth generation Hamiltonian, and pillar of McMaster’s Medical School. Dr. Walsh graduated from the University of Western Ontario Medical School, pursued general internal medicine training at the University of Toronto, and returned to his native Hamilton in 1948 to set up a practice. In 1965, he was approached by founding Dean of Medicine Dr. John Evans to help design the new revolutionary curriculum for what would become McMaster Medical School. Dr Walsh continued to serve as Assistant Dean of Medicine from 1965-1990. Over those years he also held many leadership posts within the medical community of Hamilton and beyond, including President of the Hamilton Academy of Medicine, President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Director of Continuing Medical Education at McMaster, and McMaster’s Associate Dean of Education. The William J. Walsh Professorship in General Internal Medicine and the William J. Walsh Chair in Internal Medicine, and the W. J. Walsh Invited Lecture in Education have been created in his name. Dr. Walsh was inducted into the McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Community of Distinction in 2005. Ref: McMaster Daily News Feb 2005 and personal interview.

accordion icon #23 Dr. Adrian Yaffe (1912-2009)
Adrian Yaffe

Dr. Adrian Yaffe was a longstanding member of the Hamilton cardiology community until his death in 2009. Dr. Yaffe graduated from Queen’s University Medical School in 1936, and qualified at the Liverpool Infirmary in Britain, doing postgraduate studies with renowned cardiologists Dr. Jack Shillingford and Dr. Paul Wood. In 1948, he returned to Hamilton to practice Internal Medicine, where he set about developing diagnostic cardiology techniques. Dr. Yaffe trained in cardiac catheterization with Dr. Bill Greenwood at Toronto’s Wellesley Hospital, and Dr. David Green of Buffalo. Dr. Yaffe and Dr. Jack Sibley performed the first cardiac catheterizations in Hamilton in 1952 in a small poorly ventilated basement cath lab at Hamilton General Hospital. The department of interventional cardiology grew to include physicians with expertise such as Dr. John Robinson from the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Eugene Biagioni from the Cleveland Clinic, and a first-class cardiac catheterization laboratory was relocated to the third floor of HGH. With the creation of McMaster’s Medical School in 1967, Dr. Yaffe and his interventional cardiologist colleagues assumed the majority of the clinical volume and student teaching. The university-based cardiology program was formally created with the arrival of Drs. Tanser, Fallen, Cairns and Holder in 1975, therefore Dr. Yaffe’s pioneering efforts in the field of cardiac catheterization make Hamilton likely the first non-university community to provide cardiac catheterization in Canada. Ref: Segall H. Pioneers of Cardiology in Canada 1820-1970, the Genesis of Canadian Cardiology. Hounslow Press 1988.

accordion icon #24 Dr. Salim Yusuf
Salim Yusuf

As the director of the Population Health Research Institute, Dr. Salim Yusuf founded and has since proudly led the world renowned research institute in 1999. Dr. Yusuf was previously the Director of the Preventive Cardiology and Therapeutics Research Program at the Hamilton Civic Hospitals Research Centre founded in 1992 from which the PHRI evolved. Dr. Yusuf is currently a Professor of Medicine at McMaster University as well as the endowed Chair for Cardiovascular Research for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Dr. Yusuf was formerly the Director of Cardiology at the Hamilton Health Sciences. Dr. Yusuf now holds the titles of Chief Scientific Officer and the Vice-President of Research at Hamilton Health Sciences. Dr. Yusuf holds a highly distinguished medical degree from St. John's Medical College and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. Dr. Yusuf's long list of awards and accomplishments include becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Yusuf is also the recipient of the Prix Galien Research Award, the Louis and Artur Lucian Award for Research, the Paul Wood Silver Medal for Cardiology Research and the R.T. Hall Professorship for Cardiology. He has also published over 500 articles making him one of the top cited physicians in the world and the author of many citation classics. Ref: PHRI website and

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