The value of research

Foundation, in collaboration with Dr. Lena Rivard, electrophysiologist and cardiology researcher at the Institute

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This article is adapted from the Foundation’s magazine

Dr. Lena Rivard is an electrophysiologist andcardiology researcher at the Montreal Heart Institute. An associate professor and research scholar, she’s always been fascinated by the heart, as well as by the quest for answers.

In 2020, interest in scientific research went beyond the healthcare sector and extended to the general public. The COVID-19 pandemic gave people a new perspective on the role that research plays in our daily lives and shone a light on how it works.

“I think that the pandemic has given people a newfound respect for research, because now they better understand its role in society and its impact on our daily lives,” said Dr. Rivard.

Seeing beyond the here and now

For Dr. Rivard, the public’s growing interest in research and its prominence in the news the past few months are not only positive, but crucial. We ask questions, we gain a deeper understanding of the process, and we better appreciate the need to be able to count on the resources required over the long term to further our knowledge.

“Today, we’re finally seeing the impact of dozens of years of research into the technology behind the COVID vaccines. As a result of events like the one we’re currently living through, we realize that the work researchers do can have a real effect on people’s lives,” she noted.

In the majority of cases, the tangible benefits of research aren’t immediate. But, when a problem comes up, it’s the sum of scientific advances that allow the solution to be found quickly. “Research didn’t suddenly come into the service of society. It’s always been there,” she added.


As the principal investigator of the BRAIN-AF study, Dr. Rivard knows all too well that a scientific solution can sometimes take years to emerge.

“If all goes well, in four years, we’ll have answered the question posed in BRAIN-AF: Is there a causal link between the administration of anticoagulant therapy and the prevention of cognitive decline in young patients with atrial fibrillation?” she explained.

This is a long-term mission, the precise outcome of which is still unknown. Whether the results are conclusive or not, the efforts invested will have advanced science for the common good. And that’s what we have to bear in mind.


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