Feb. 24, 2020

Rising star

Trainee explores her career path at the Libin Institute

Dr. Safia Chatur, MD, (UCalgary ‘14) is grateful for the opportunity to explore and develop a variety of interests while training at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute. 

A third-year cardiology resident with the goal of further specializing in heart failure, Chatur’s goals don’t end with completing her clinical specialization. She is also keenly interested in including a large research component to her career. Chatur’s main research interest is in cardiovascular outcomes research, which uses big data and statistical analysis to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health-care systems, but she is also highly interested in incorporating gender and sex considerations into her research. 

Chatur, who was born and raised in Vancouver, is quick to credit her mentors at the Libin Institute for inspiring her to dream big when considering her future.  

“My mentors have hugely impacted the trajectory of my training and future career goals,” says Chatur. “I have had so many opportunities to explore things beyond clinical care.”

Chatur is impressed by the supportiveness of the Libin Institute’s cardiology program, led by Dr. Katherine Kavanagh, MD.

“Dr. Kavanagh is a fantastic advocate for trainees,” says Chatur. “She recognizes her trainees’s individual interests and provides the latitude and mentorship to cultivate those pursuits.”

Chatur notes that the uniquely strong culture of mentorship within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary is instrumental to trainee success. She is very thankful for her mentors—who are themselves clinicians and academics—who have shared their time, knowledge and experience with her. 

Chatur says a number of individuals, such as Drs. Debra Isaac, MD, Stephen Wilton, MD, Aleem Bharwani, MD, Satish Raj, Robert Sheldon, MD, and Todd Anderson, MD, have gone above and beyond in mentoring her.  
Mentorship has its own rewards, and Raj has enjoyed working with Chatur, whom he describes as keenly intelligent with an unsurpassed work ethic. 

“The opportunity to work with [Chatur] reassures me about the future of cardiology,” says Raj. “[Chatur], 
and trainees like her, are going to be discovering the advances in cardiology for decades to come.”

Chatur has flourished under the mentorship she has experienced at the Libin Institute. In 2019, she received an honourable mention at the Young Investigator Award Competition in Outcomes Research at the American College of Cardiology Conference for her research examining the cost effectiveness of cardiac devices in patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). 

She was also the first author in a study published in May 2019 in the Journal of the American Heart Association that looked at fainting during pregnancy. The population level study, done under Sheldon’s supervision, was the first of its kind in this demographic, and revealed that fainting, a fairly common occurrence during pregnancy, is worse than previously assumed.   

“It was surprising to learn that there are higher rates of preterm birth for moms who have fainted during pregnancy and increased congenital abnormalities in the babies,” noted Chatur of the findings. “For moms, there is also an increase in syncope and cardiac arrhythmias for the year following birth.”

The study sparked a new interest for Chatur, who is now passionate about including sex and gender considerations in her research. It is an area that is surprisingly understudied, as traditionally many research studies have focused on males. 
For Chatur, considering the biological differences between males and females, as well as how cultural differences impact cardiovascular health, is a necessary step in treating patients effectively.  
“As a woman and cardiology trainee, these issues are close to my heart,” says Chatur. “We are in an era of precision medicine, where we are looking at individual variables like genes and environment. In order to optimize care equitably, we need to zoom out and take a pluralistic approach to medicine, and that involves consideration of factors like sex and gender.”

Chatur is now a member of the public engagement advisory panel for the Libin Institute’s Women’s Cardiovascular Research Initiative, CV&Me, a new, multi-discipline collaboration of researchers with the mission of optimal cardiovascular health for women in southern Alberta and beyond.

 Her role in CV&Me is to help make recommendations on strategic and research priorities in the area of heart rhythm as part of a public engagement advisory panel. 

“It is a fantastic opportunity for a trainee,” says Chatur, adding she is thrilled to help decide strategic and research priorities in the area of cardiac rhythm as part of the panel. 

Chatur has been accepted into Harvard Medical School’s Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Fellowship Program, where she will be continuing her training.