Research Awards

Dr. Dean Fergusson

Winner of the Dr. Michel Chrétien Researcher of the Year Award (2008)
at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Anyone having heart surgery today is likely to be affected by the groundbreaking research of Dr. Dean Fergusson. His BART study (Blood Conservation using Antifibrinolytics in a Randomized Trial) changed practice around the world in 2007. 

The goal of the study was to compare three routinely used anti-bleeding drugs. Although all three had been proven effective at reducing bleeding compared to placebo, BART was the first trial to rigorously compare them head-to-head. The most popular drug, aprotinin, was widely assumed to be the best, but to everyone’s surprise, BART revealed that patients who received aprotinin were actually 50 per cent more likely to die than patients who received either of the other two drugs. When the results were announced, the manufacturer suspended marketing of aprotinin and heart surgery changed, virtually overnight. The study has saved thousands of lives and likely millions of dollars, as aprotinin was actually the most expensive drug by far.

The BART study is a perfect example of the type of research Dr. Fergusson strives to do: research that tests our most basic assumptions and answers big questions in health care. BART was the largest heart surgery trial ever conducted, and it was designed and administered completely by independent investigators. It was co-led by Dr. Paul Hébert and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Fergusson is a Senior Scientist in the OHRI’s Clinical Epidemiology Program and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. He also leads the OHRI’s Methods Centre, which provides advice and mentoring to anyone at The Ottawa Hospital who is interested in getting involved in clinical research. He collaborates widely with researchers in transfusion medicine as well as in areas as diverse as kidney disease, lung disease, urology, perinatology, thrombosis and resuscitation. At just 40 years old, Dr. Fergusson has published over 170 articles, including over 100 peer-reviewed articles in either top-tier medical journals or high-quality specialty journals.