Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif
STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
Director, Montreal Heart Institute Research Centre
Scientific Director, Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Centre (MHICC)
Family and hockey. Two passions closely intertwined in the heart of Jean-Claude Tardif, cardiologist and director of the Montreal Heart Institute’s research centre. Raised in a suburb north of Montreal, this Montreal Canadiens fan is certainly playing for keeps when it comes to cardiovascular health research.
“When I was young, some members of my family died very prematurely from heart attacks before the age of 50. That had a real impact on my life,” he says.
Dr. Tardif is a leading authority on atherosclerosis. He has contributed to the development of intravascular ultrasonography, an imaging technique that allows physicians to view the inner walls of arteries. He is an all-star player in molecular biology, pharmacology and phase I to IV clinical trials. He is the author of more than 600 scientific papers. And he received the Order of Canada.
In life as in hockey, it is important to learn from failures. This is what happened with the phase I and II trials for inclacumab, an anti-inflammatory drug for the treatment of coronary artery disease that was never commercialized. “It is important to have the ability to stop unsuccessful developments as quickly as possible. The design of the studies we conducted with Roche facilitated the decision to not go into phase III with this drug,” he explains.
The cardiologist is a team player with an entrepreneurial spirit. Over the years, he co-founded two biotech companies, Clementia and DalCor, and acted as a consultant for some 20 major pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, his extensive experience in the development of new drugs means that he is uniquely qualified to initiate clinical trial discussions with regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada.
“We will conduct clinical research at a much lower cost by accelerating the recruitment of targeted patients and maximizing the likelihood that they will remain in the study. If a company needs patients with a specific metabolic profile or genetic abnormality, we can do it. That’s quite unique around the world.”
Genetic database of patients and AI
An achievement he’s particularly proud of is the creation of the Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center (MHICC), one of the largest academic clinical trial coordination centres in Canada.
His next challenge? To reinvent clinical research by establishing an artificial intelligence (AI) unit to operate, among other things, a biobank containing the gene sequencing information of 30,000 patients and clinical trial data involving more than 100,000 patients.