Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta
Dr. Carlos Morillo may be relatively new to the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, but he is world renowned for his expertise in Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS.
The rare nervous-system disorder, which causes an unusual increase in heart rate in patients who are in an upright position, severely hampers the quality of life for sufferers.
Morillo, a cardiologist, electrophysiologist and professor of medicine, was recruited to join the Libin Institute in October, 2016 as the chief of cardiology and to conduct research alongside several other Institute experts.
He recently earned the Golden Caliper Award from the Latin American Pacing/EP Society & Brazilian Society of Cardiac Arrhythmias.
Morillo was pleased to receive the award, explaining he is originally from Colombia and was involved in the creation of the society from which he received it.
“This award was a recognition for the work I have done,” he said, noting he is still active in Latin America, often visiting to educate and provide training and conduct clinical trials.
This is just one in a long list of prestigious awards Morillo has received in his career including the Charles Pfizer Research Award, the National Academy of Medicine – Aventis Clinical Research Award and the Award for Best Researcher from the Sociedad Colombiana de Cardiologia. Morillo was also selected as one of the 10 most influential Hispanic-Canadians in 2010.
He has published more than 285 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 35 book chapters in his areas of expertise.
Besides his work in the area of POTS, Morillo’s research interests include cardiac arrhythmias, syncope and treatment of Chagas Disease, an infectious tropical disease transmitted by a parasite that affects heart tissue and leads to heart failure and sudden death in about 30 per cent of infected individuals.
He has been involved in numerous studies resulting in recent publications including “Randomized Trial of Benznidazole for Chronic Chagas’ Cardiomyopathy,” which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September, 2015; “2015 heart rhythm society expert consensus statement on the diagnosis and treatment of postural tachycardia syndrome, inappropriate sinus tachycardia, and vasovagal syncope” published in Heart Rhythm Journal the same year; and “Radiofrequency ablation vs antiarrhythmic drugs as first-line treatment for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (RAAFT-2): A randomized trial,” published in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2014.
Morillo came to Calgary from the Population Health Research Institute, which is affiliated with McMaster University in Hamilton, where he was a professor and continues to hold a joint appointment.
He was also the Hamilton Health Sciences director of the Syncope and Autonomic Dysfunction Unit; program director of the Cardiac Electrophysiology and Autonomic Physiology Fellowship; and Institute’s principal investigator for the Arrhythmia Program and Neglected Diseases Program – Developing Countries.
Morillo is also an active member of numerous subspecialty organizations. In fact, he was a founding member of the Canadian Heart Rhythm Society and Colombian Heart Foundation, president of the Latin American Electrophysiology and Pacing Society, and vice-president of the Inter-American Cardiology Society.
His arrival in Calgary adds to a strong team of world-renowned researchers in syncope and autonomic disorders that includes Dr. Robert Sheldon and Dr. Satish Raj.
Morillo says vasovagal syncope, which relates to changes in heart rate and blood pressure and causes a host of symptoms including fainting or the feeling that one will faint, is “ a frequent clinical problem that continues to promote a lot of research.”
“We are hoping to create a syncope fainting research hub here,” said Morillo.
He is excited to be part of the Libin Institute.
“The Libin is an institute that is really interested in providing the best quality of care, and in conducting research,” he said. “It has a huge input from post-grad trainees, which is… preparing the next generation of researchers and clinicians.”
Staff at the Foothills Hospital had a chance to meet with Morillo at a meet-and-greet event held at the hospital on April 4. Photos shown were taken at that event.