Professorship, 2012 Update

The Paul Brunes Professorship was established by the Brunes family after Paul's untimely death at age 31. Starting in his teens, Paul had complained several times of a racing heartbeat. He sought medical attention on numerous occassions and underwent tests, but was not diagnosed with a heart ailment. He died suddenly in 2010.

"Our partnership with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation enabled us to fundraise for this incredible professorship named after our son, Paul Brunes," said his father, Per. "We feel that his shortened life will have not been in vain and truly believe that this Professorship will help save young men and women like Paul from this kind of heart disease."

The Paul Brunes Professorship

On October 19, 2012, VGH and British Columbia's entire heart health community welcomed the new appointment of Dr. Andrew Krahn as the Paul Brunes UBC Professorship in Heart Rhythm Disorders. Dr. Krahn is also the new Head of the Division of Cardiology in the UBC Faculty of Medicine, and the Head of the Vancouver General Hospital Pacemaker Clinic.

Dr. Krahn's responsibilities include treating patients - mainly through the implantation of heart rhythm devices - and pursuing research into inherited arrhythmias. He will also build research and teaching capacity in cardiology that will extend across the entire province. His clinical duties, research, and leadership role will converge in the creation of a province-wide network to diagnose and treat people with inherited cardiac arrhythmias – estimated to number about 7,000 in British Columbia.

Dr. Krahn, who grew up in BC, was recruited back to the province from the University of Western Ontario. He is an internationally recognized expert in the management of cardiac arrhythmias, the genetic causes of arrhythmias, causes of loss of consciousness and implantable heart rhythm devices. He has published 245 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is the president of the Canadian Heart Rhythm Society.

In Ontario, Dr. Krahn undertook a national study that detected rare genetic conditions in children and adults who have experienced a sudden cardiac arrest, as well as their family members, who may appear perfectly healthy. Once a genetic condition is identified, a potentially fatal cardiac arrest can be prevented through medication or implantable defibrillators.

Paul Brunes Professorship in Heart Rhythm Disorders
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
Did You Know?

  • Roughly 50,000 Canadians have an inherited heart rhythm disorder. Many are unaware of it
  • Most sudden cardiac deaths occur in the elderly, but up to 2 per cent occur in young people, like Paul, aged 40 years or younger.
  • Of these, about one-third are designated as unexplained deaths because autopsies find no physical cause.

British Columbians to Benefit from Expertise

Now Dr. Krahn is working to create a similar network across the province of British Columbia. It will refer individuals with inherited arrhythmia – and their relatives – to one of two clinics in the Lower Mainland or use telemedicine technologies to provide remote examinations and counseling. The organizers expect that for every individual who has been identified due to an event (such as loss of consciousness), four more at-risk family members will be detected.

A new leader for BC heart research and care

"I am honoured to join the BC cardiovascular health care team, and eager to provide direction for the superb collection of physicians, nurses and other specialists who are helping heart patients live longer and better lives," Dr. Krahn said. "I am keen to promote discovery, innovation and the use of that knowledge to advance our understanding of heart disease, and to deliver better care in a lifelong learning environment."

Continued Support Needed

The Paul Brunes Professorship, supported by $1.6 million from generous donors to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, and $750,000 from Cardiac Services BC, will take a leadership role in heart rhythm research and training to improve treatment of tachycardia (excessive heart rate), fibrillation (uncoordinated contraction of the heart muscles) or sudden cardiac death.

Dr. Krahn's recruitment was made possible because of families like the Brunes Family cared enough to donate. Donors are still being sought to ensure this Professorship and Dr. Krahn are able to continue to improve the heart health of people across British Columbia through treatment, and new research discoveries. Please consider making a gift today.

Please make cheques payable to: "VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation" and include"Professorship in Heart Rhythm Disorders at VGH" in the memo line.

Contact Information

Laura Walsh
Senior Vice President, Philanthropy
Direct line: 604-875-4676 ext 58264

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation
190-855 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9