APPROACH team - Fall 2023

Our Team

The following people administer the APPROACH project as directors, IT personnel, project managers, and researchers.

APPROACH Leadership

Steve Wilton, MD, MSc.

Steve Wilton, MD, MSc.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Stephen Wilton is a Cardiologist and Associate Professor of Cardiac Sciences and Community Health Sciences. His research spans epidemiology, clinical trials and health services investigations of cardiovascular disease. He leads the activities of the APPROACH cardiac registry and is the Principal Investigator of the IMPROVE CV Care Trial, which is part of the ICDC SPOR Innovative Clinical Trials Program. In this role, Steve enjoys working with our amazing multidisciplinary team of clinicians, researchers and patient partners to better understand and hopefully improve cardiovascular care in Alberta. Outside of work, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife Jan, his 3 great children and their dog, and playing in the Rocky Mountains. 


 Matt James, MD, PhD

Matt James, MD, PhD

Research Director

Dr. Matthew James is a kidney doctor and clinical researcher who specializes in health systems and services research. His research involves working with multidisciplinary teams involving close partnerships with patients, clinicians, and health system decision makers. His recent work is focused on risk prediction, computerized decision support tools, and clinical trials incorporating pragmatic designs to improve the quality of care, experiences, and health outcomes of people with or at risk of kidney and cardiovascular diseases. His work has been recognized with a Mid-Career Research Leader Award from the O’Brien Institute of Public Health at the University of Calgary, a Killam Emerging Research Leader Award, and the Monique Bégin Award in Knowledge Translation from CIHR. Outside of the office, Matt enjoys spending time with his family skiing, biking, and walking in the Rocky Mountains in the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region and returning to the qathut region of British Columbia to enjoy the beaches and ocean.


Danielle Southern

Danielle Southern, BSc, MSc

Data Scientist

Danielle has expertise regarding database management & analysis, particularly in regards to APPROACH (as Data Scientist) and through her prior role as Associate Director of the Alberta SPOR Methods and Development Unit. Currently, she performs statistical research and analysis related to many aspects within the Centre for Health Informatics and with several other research groups (APPROACH, W21C, Drs. William Ghali/Hude Quan). In her role as Associate Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre at the University of Calgary, she manages the many projects related to classification, terminologies and standards of the WHO family of classifications. In her free time, Danielle enjoys camping with the family, reading (she’s our resident book club leader) and crafting (if you can name it, she has probably tried it out).

Pantea Javaheri

Pantea Javaheri, Bsc, MRSc

Research Coordinator

Pantea has been working as a Project Coordinator with Dr. Matthew James focusing on ensuring the success of crossover AKI projects in the departments of nephrology and cardiology for the past 8 years. Pantea plans, coordinates, and executes assigned research projects, with a focus on identifying areas of improvement, research priorities and developing research roadmaps. Pantea offers extensive knowledge of the development, implementation, evaluation and sustainability of strategic plans and community-based health programs and is the developer of the AHS’s online Psychological First Aid educational series designed for the front-line workers at times of disasters, such as the Fort McMurray fire and COVID-19. Pantea has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Science and is a certified PMP. Outside of work, Pantea enjoys volunteering, travelling, and spending time with her family.

Todd Wilson

Todd Wilson

Statistical Associate

Dr. Todd Wilson is a statistician with a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Calgary. His current research focuses on statistical risk prediction tools for adverse chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular outcomes, in addition to research methods for understanding patient preferences and values towards invasive versus conservative management of heart disease and providing statistical support to various research teams.  His research involves collaborations with several multidisciplinary teams including the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcomes Assessment in Coronary Heart Disease (APPROACH), the Can-SOLVE CKD Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) Chronic Disease Network, the Alberta Kidney Disease Network, and the Clinical Nephrology Research Group. 

Maria Dalton

Maria Dalton, MSc., HBSc.

Clinical Research Coordinator

Raised in quiet Prince Edward Island, Maria brings her unique rural insight to all the work she does. Currently a Clinical Research Coordinator with the Libin Cardiovascular Institute's APPROACH Research Group (Dr. Wilton, Dr. James) and Person-Centered Methods lab (Dr. Sajobi), the work she is involved with investigates the role of patient reported outcomes and experience measures in cardiac care, seeking to improve clinical care. She is passionate about community/patient engagement, teaching, and mentorship with an interest in healthcare system improvement, complex chronic illness, geospatial analysis, and scientific misinformation. Outside of work, Maria loves spending time being active - be it on her skis, on her bike, or competing in high-level five pin bowling. 

Michelle Graham

Michelle Graham, MD

Health Outcomes and Health Services Lead

Dr. Michelle Graham is a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Alberta.  Her primary research interests are varied and include Acute kidney injury after invasive cardiac procedures, perioperative medicine, cardiac care in the elderly, processes of care, and decision support tools. Michelle obtained her medical degree at the University of Ottawa, followed by training in Internal Medicine at Western University, Cardiology at Dalhousie University, and a fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at the University of Calgary. She has spent her entire academic career at the University of Alberta. Outside of the office, Michelle enjoys reading, cooking and hanging out at her cottage with her husband and three children. 

Bryan Har

Bryan Har, MD, MSc.

Clinical Informatics Lead

Dr. Bryan Har is an interventional cardiologist and member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute. He completed his medical training at Western University and his cardiology and interventional cardiology fellowships at the University of Calgary. He is a Clinical Associate Professor and is the Lead of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab Research Program at Foothills Medical Centre. His clinical interests include high-risk coronary interventions, intracoronary calcium modification, and intravascular imaging.

Tolulope Sajobi

Tolulope Sajobi, PhD

Research Methods and Patient Reported Outcomes Lead

Dr. Sajobi is the Director of the Person-Centered Methods & Analytics (PCMA) Lab through which he leads a methodological research program with application in three areas of clinical research, namely:  1) measurement and analysis of behavioral and patient-reported outcomes; 2) classification and prediction methodologies for prognostic research and clinical decision support tools, and 3) design and analysis of randomized clinical trials. His research has found applications in several disease domain areas include neuroepidemiology, neurology, cardiology, and orthopedics. Dr. Sajobi’s research program has been supported by research grants from the MSI Foundation, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, NSERC, and CIHR. Aside from his research interests, Dr. Sajobi is an avid gardener and Liverpool FC fan!

Joon Lee

Joon Lee, PhD

AI/Big Data Lead

Dr. Joon Lee is the Director of the Data Intelligence for Health (DIH) Lab and an Associate Professor of Health Data Science in the Departments of Community Health Sciences & Cardiac Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. His primary research interest is in transforming health data from various sources into useful information and knowledge. His research applies data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, mobile technology, and biostatistics to several health fields including intensive care medicine, aging, and population health surveillance. 

Denise Kruger

Denise Kruger

Project Coordinator - Edmonton

Denise Kruger is a Medical Radiology Technologist II whose 35-year career has seen her work in multiple Radiology disciplines, including General/ER/OR and Specialty Imaging. At the Mazankowski Heart Institute she was responsible for adults/pediatrics electrophysiology studies. Denise then enhanced her career with Mammography at Lendrum Women’s Imaging where her responsibilities were in mammography, bone density and stereotactic breast biopsies. Denise presently works as a Project Research Coordinator for the Nephrology Research Group at the Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary, serving as the liaison between the research team and Edmonton Zone clinicians/operations. Denise’s project involvements include the successful Contrast Risk project, CanSOLVE CKD, IMPROVE CV Care and OPCM-CAD.

APPROACH Research Streams

Health outcomes & health services

Health Outcomes / Health Services

Lead: Michelle Graham, MD

Link to research: 

Clinical informatics

Clinical Informatics

Lead: Bryan Har, MD, MSc

Link to research:

Patient reported outcomes

Research Methods / Patient Reported Outcomes

Lead: Tolulope Sajobi, PhD

Link to research: 

AI and big data

AI / Big Data

Lead: Joon Lee, PhD

Link to research:

clinical decision support

Clinical Decision Support

Lead: Matthew James, MD, PhD

Link to research:

APPROACH Advisory Team

Merril Knudtson, MDAdvisor
William Ghali, MD, MPHAdvisor
Colleen Norris, MN, PhDAdvisor

APPROACH Research Collaborators

Todd AndersonCardiologyUniversity of Calgary
Kevin BaineyCardiologyUniversity of Alberta
Stefania BertazzonGeography, geographic information scienceUniversity of Calgary
Fiona ClementNephrology, BiostatisticsUniversity of Calgary
Lawrence de KoningEpidemiology, laboratory medicineUniversity of Calgary
Min GaoBiostatisticsUniversity of British Columbia
David GoodhartCardiologyUniversity of Calgary
Michelle GrahamCardiologyUniversity of Alberta
Bryan HarCardiologyUniversity of Calgary
Brenda HemmelgarnNephrology, epidemiologyUniversity of Alberta
Karin HumphriesCardiologyUniversity of British Columbia
Marc JolicouerCardiologyInstitut de Cardiologie de Montreal
Gil KaplanGastroenterology, Community HealthUniversity of Calgary
Padma KaulEpidemiologyUniversity of Alberta
Terry KieserCardiac SurgeryUniversity of Calgary
Bill KentCardiac SurgeryUniversity of Calgary
Kathryn KingCardiac rehabilitation, risk factorsUniversity of Calgary
Joon LeeData Science / Artificial IntelligenceUniversity of Calgary
Andrew MacRaeEmergency MedicineUniversity of Calgary
Finlay McAlisterEpidemiology, health services researchUniversity of Alberta
Sean McMurtryCardiologyUniversity of Alberta
Rob MillerCardiologyUniversity of Calgary
Jeevan NagendranCardiac SurgeryUniversity of Alberta
Hude QuanEpidemiologyUniversity of Calgary
Saif RathoreHealth services researchYale University, U.S.A.
Tolu SajobiCommunity Health SciencesUniversity of Calgary
Maria SantanaCommunity Health SciencesUniversity of Calgary
Dean TraboulsiCardiologyUniversity of Calgary
Sean van DiepenCritical CareUniversity of Alberta
Rob WelshCardiologyUniversity of Alberta
James WhiteCardiologyUniversity of Calgary
Harindra WijeysunderaCardiologyUniversity of Toronto

APPROACH Research Trainees

Joel AdekanyePhD CandidateUniversity of Calgary