Birnie, David

David Birnie, MD, is a staff cardiac electrophysiologist, Vered Chair, and the division head of Cardiology at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. He is  a full professor in the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, at the University of Ottawa, where he is cross-appointed to the School of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Birnie co-leads the Ottawa Region strategic research Innovation Cluster on Arrhythmias.


Dr. David Birnie received his medical degree (MB ChB) from Glasgow University in 1990. After completion of Internal Medical training at Aberdeen University he gained his MRCP (UK) in 1993. He spent three years as a cardiology research fellow at Glasgow University from 1993 studying the immunology of atherosclerosis and was awarded his PhD equivalent (MD) in 1996. Between 1996 and 2001 he undertook cardiology training at Glasgow University and received his Certificate of Completion of Specialist Cardiology Training in 2001. In addition he spent a year in 1999-2000 as a Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellow at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Dr. Birnie was recruited to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in 2002 as staff cardiac electrophysiologist and clinician investigator.

Dr. Birnie is a founding member and current chair of the Canadian Heart Rhythm Society Research Committee. He is chair of the first international guidelines for the diagnosis and management of cardiac sarcoidosis. He currently sits on both Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Heart and Stroke Foundation peer review panels.

Dr. Birnie, as principal investigator, has been funded by the British Heart Foundation, HSFC, CIHR and the JP Bickell Foundation. Dr. Birnie has current grant funding from HSFC and CIHR. He played a leading role as Co-Principal Investigator on the CIHR Canadian Atrial Fibrillation Stroke Prevention Network (2013-2019).

To date, he has been involved in over 500 peer-reviewed presentations, publications, and book chapters. In 2014, Dr. Birnie was awarded the University of Ottawa Heart Institute’s Clinical Science Investigator of the Year award and the Global Achievement Award in 2016. In 2018 he was awarded the prestigious University of Ottawa Department of Medicine Mentorship Award. Dr. Birnie has been an invited speaker at major international conferences including the American Heart Association, Heart Rhythm Society and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society meeting. He has managed to combine work with his major hobby, serving as cardiologist for the Medical Advisory Committee of the Canadian Soccer Association.

Research and clinical interests

Dr. Birnie heads the Division of Cardiology at the UOHI. His clinical focus is on all aspects of cardiac electrophysiology including arrhythmia pharmacotherapy and radiofrequency ablation of simple and complex arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation. He also co-leads the cardiac sarcoidosis clinic and program. He also has a major clinical interest in all aspects of implantation and follow-up of device therapy for arrhythmias. This includes pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).

Dr. Birnie’s major ongoing research interests are cardiac sarcoidosis, selection and optimization of CRT for heart failure patients, investigating optimal strategies for stroke reduction after AF ablation.


See current publications list at PubMed.

Selected publications:

  1. Birnie DH, Healey JS, Essebag V. Management of anticoagulation around pacemaker and defibrillator surgery. Circulation. 2014 May 20;129(20):2062-5
  2. Birnie DH, Sauer WH, Bogun F, Cooper JM, Culver DA, Duvernoy CS, Judson MA, Kron J, Mehta D, Cosedis Nielsen J, Patel AR, Ohe T, Raatikainen P, Soejima K. HRS expert consensus statement on the diagnosis and management of arrhythmias associated with cardiac sarcoidosis. Heart Rhythm. 2014 Jul;11(7):1305-23.
  3. Nery PB, Beanlands RS, Nair GM, Green M, Yang J, McArdle BA, Davis D, Ohira H, Gollob MH, Leung E, Healey JS, Birnie DH. Atrioventricular block as the initial manifestation of cardiac sarcoidosis in middle-aged adults. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2014 Aug;25(8):875-81.
  4. Nair GM, Nery PB, Redpath CJ, Lam BK, Birnie DH. Atrioesophageal fistula in the era of atrial fibrillation ablation: a review. Can J Cardiol. 2014 Apr;30(4):388-95.
  5. Nair GM, Nery PB, Redpath CJ, Birnie DH. Ventricular arrhythmias in patients with heart failure secondary to reduced ejection fraction: a current perspective. Curr Opin Cardiol. 2014 Mar;29(2):152-9
  6. Birnie DH, Healey JS, Wells GA, Verma A, Tang AS, Krahn AD, Simpson CS, Ayala-Paredes F, Coutu B, Leiria TL, Essebag V; BRUISE CONTROL Investigators. Pacemaker or defibrillator surgery without interruption of anticoagulation. N Engl J Med. 2013 May 30;368(22):2084-93.
  7. Birnie D, Lemke B, Aonuma K, Krum H, Lee KL, Starling RC, Milasinovic G, Gorcsan J 3rd, Houmsse M, Abeyratne A, Sambelashvili A, Martin DO. Clinical outcomes with synchronized left ventricular pacing: analysis of the adaptive CRT trial. Heart Rhythm. 2013 Sep;10(9):1368-74
  8. Verma A, Champagne J, Sapp J, Essebag V, Novak P, Skanes A, Morillo CA, Khaykin Y, Birnie D. Discerning the Incidence of Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Episodes of Atrial Fibrillation Before and After Catheter Ablation (DISCERN AF): A Prospective, Multi-center Study. JAMA Intern Med 2013 Jan 28;173(2):149-56.
  9. Birnie DH, Parkash R, Exner DV, Essebag V, Healey JS, Verma A, Coutu B, Kus T, Mangat I, Ayala-Paredes F, Nery P, Wells G, Krahn AD. Clinical predictors of Fidelis lead fracture. Circulation 2012; 125: 1217-1225
Dr. David Birnie, MD, UOHI

Birnie, David

Birnie, David

BSc (Hons), MB, ChB, MRCP, MD

Appointments and affiliations

Vered Chair and Division Head

Clinician Investigator

Staff Cardiac Electrophysiologist

Faculty of Medicine Tier 1 Clinical Research Chair in Cardiac Electrophysiology
University of Ottawa

Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine
University of Ottawa

School of Epidemiology and Public Health
Faculty of Medicine (cross-appointment)
University of Ottawa

Research Team
Patient Oriented Research in Cardiac Arrhythmia