Dr. Marc Ruel is the Michael Pitfield professor and chairman, head, and endowed chair of research in the Division of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
He received his M.D. in 1994, and his board certification in cardiac surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2000. He subsequently pursued minimally invasive surgery and basic science training at Harvard University, where he also completed a master’s degree in public health. Dr. Ruel later returned to Harvard for leadership courses.
Dr. Ruel is appointed at the University of Ottawa as a professor in the Division of Cardiac Surgery and in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. From 2010 to 2012, he was the assistant dean of clinical and translational research in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, during which time he initiated innovative translational and patient-oriented research programs, such as the Translational Research Grant Program. He left this role to serve as chief of cardiac surgery in 2013.
Under his leadership, Dr. Ruel has enhanced the division’s presence and reputation in Canada and internationally. He has largely shaped the division’s approach to all aspects of patient care, while driving translational and clinical research outputs, improving longitudinal outcomes structure (by way of a long-term follow-up framework for cardiac surgical patients), and supporting advancements in surgical innovation (including a dedicated, philanthropically-funded robotic cardiac surgery program).
Dr. Ruel performs all types of cardiac surgery, including minimally invasive procedures, heart transplants and ventricular assist device implantations. He co-pioneered minimally invasive coronary bypass surgery (MICS CABG) worldwide and delivered numerous international courses on MICS CABG and MICS valve surgery, which he teaches to surgeons from numerous countries on-site in Ottawa, as well as across North America and abroad. Thousands of sternal-sparing coronary operations performed worldwide now use the techniques developed by Dr. Ruel. He has safely performed several other first-in-man operations that have led to successful clinical series. Dr. Ruel is the editor of a successful 600-page textbook about cardiac surgical techniques by Elsevier. Now in its second edition, nearly 10,000 copies have been sold worldwide.
Dr. Ruel has authored nearly 400 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters. He has trained hundreds of surgeons on his minimally invasive cardiac surgery techniques, delivered or overseen as primary supervisor over 200 original research presentations, and presented over 200 invited lectures. In 2007, he was awarded the Gold Medal in Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for his work in regenerative medicine. In 2012, he received Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to cardiac care. He was the University of Ottawa’s Alumnus of the Year in 2013, and he was presented with the Order of Ottawa in 2018. Dr. Ruel is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Heart Association.
Dr. Ruel’s laboratory, established after his return to Ottawa from Boston in 2002, has since been funded by national peer-reviewed research agencies. His laboratory research team, now expertly led by Dr. Erik Suuronen and Dr. Emilio Alarcon, contributes to breakthroughs on the mechanisms and effects of biopolymer matrices in cell-based and acellular cardiovascular regeneration. In clinical research, Dr. Ruel has led numerous studies in valve and coronary surgery, including the CASCADE trial and the recently initiated MIST randomized controlled trial, which compares outcomes after minimally invasive coronary bypass surgery (via small thoracotomy) versus conventional bypass surgery (via sternotomy). Dr. Ruel’s cohort studies on the longitudinal outcomes of heart valve replacement have also received wide recognition.
Dr. Ruel has been dedicated to serving the mission of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the American Heart Association, and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. He is the past chair of the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia, and he currently serves as cardiovascular surgery editor for the prestigious journal, Circulation. He is the president-elect of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the Canadian director of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and one of the directors of the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery. He is a reviewer for international organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the British Heart Foundation, the European Society of Cardiology, the Austrian Science Fund, and others.
Dr. Ruel’s philosophy of care is in keeping with the core values of the Heart Institute. Above all, he relentlessly demonstrates a strong commitment to ensuring every patient and their family receives world-class care when they come to the hospital for surgery. This devotion extends, roots, and grows outward, resulting in a culture of care providers who consistently strive for uncompromised excellence at all costs: in clinical/surgical care and technical innovation, in research, and in the dissemination of knowledge and support to peers, colleagues, and the aspiring healthcare leaders of tomorrow.