Ottawa Heart Conference: Public Lecture

Medical Breakthroughs: What are the Possible Game-Changers in the Near Future? How will they impact health and society?

In collaboration with the Gairdner Foundation, partnered with the UOHI Patient Alumni.


Dr. Victor Dzau
President, US National Academy of Medicine (NAM)
Vice Chair, US National Research Council
Chancellor Emeritus and James B Duke Professor
Duke University Health System


The panel discussion, which includes Q&A with the audience, will be moderated by Dr. Peter Liu (Chief Scientific Officer, University of Ottawa Heart Institute). 

Panelists include:

  • Robert Bell, MD
    Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Toronto, ON
  • Victor Dzau, MD
    President, US National Academy of Medicine & James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University
  • Colleen Flood, PhD
    Professor and University Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
  • Neil D. Fraser, BASc, MBA, P.Eng 
    President, Medtronic of Canada Ltd.
  • Thierry Mesana, MD, PhD
    President & CEO, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • Duncan Stewart, MD
    CEO and Scientific Director, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON
  • Helen Robert
    Patient representative: Heart attack survivor
  • Janet Rossant, PhD
    President and Scientific Director, Gairdner Foundation, Toronto, ON
  • Pierre Sabourin
    Assistant Deputy Minister
    Health Canada, Government of Canada


Friday, April 27, 2018


  • 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.: Dr. Dzau presents
  • 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.: Panel Discussion 


National Arts Centre, Ottawa
1 Elgin Street
Ottawa, ON | Map


Registration for the Public Lecture is now closed

Learning objectives

  • Identify emerging trends in global health related to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and aging
  • Articulate promising developments in science and biotechnology innovation and their potential to transform all aspects of health and healthcare: from disease treatment to cure to early detection and prevention
  • Discuss the societal implications of new biotechnology advances


The world is confronted with the rising epidemics of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and aging. Cardiovascular Disease is the number 1 cause of death globally with an estimated 17.7 million people died from CVDs in 2015, representing 31% of all global deaths. Over three quarters of CVD deaths take place in low- and middle-income countries. Cancer is second leading cause of death globally with an estimated 8.8 million deaths in 2015. The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades.  Another area of significance is aging.  Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22%. In 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries. Without strategies to address these emerging epidemics, the world will face disastrous consequences in human sufferings, economic challenges and national insecurity.

Future solutions will depend on science and innovation and their applications to detection, treatment and prevention of diseases. Fortunately, science and technology are moving at an extremely rapid pace. Breakthroughs in science, medicine, and technology are occurring right now that have the potential to transform health and medicine. Notably, advances in basic science, data science, technology, and the convergence of different fields of sciences are paving the way for these exciting new developments. We are seeing medical breakthroughs that include: genetic engineering, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, immuno-cancer therapy, precision medicine, big data & analytics and artificial intelligence. These advances in science and technology will transform all aspects of health and healthcare: from disease treatment to cure to early detection and prevention with the emergence of Precision public health. The future healthcare delivery will enable a seamless continuum of care, change the way care is delivered, when care is delivered, where care is delivered and who care is delivered by.

Rapid technological advancements will increase the pace of change and create new opportunities but will also aggravate divisions between winners and losers. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) threaten to change industries faster than economies can adjust, potentially displacing workers and limiting the usual route for poor countries to develop. Biotechnologies such as genome editing will revolutionize medicine and other fields, while sharpening socio-ethical differences. There will be an urgent need to address access and affordability as well as concerns that these new technologies will increase health care costs and raise question of preparedness of current workforce. Certain jobs will be replaced while others will be transformed, for instance, AI can potentially replace certain professions such as radiology and pathology. Finally, there is an urgent  need to  address data ownership, privacy, sharing and cybersecurity concerns. These issues must be dealt with collectively and effectively in order to realize the full potentials of science and innovation.

Perspectives for the Future

Medical & technological breakthroughs & advances will provide an armamentarium of tools and approaches that can transform and revolutionize healthcare and health. Health & healthcare will be connected, precise, democratized and people centred with better outcomes and improved population health.   However, key challenges will be in extent of adoption, controlling cost of care and preventing health inequity. These issues must be dealt with collectively and effectively in order to realize the full potentials of science and innovation.