Dr. Marc Ruel is the Michael Pitfield professor and chairman, head, and endowed chair of research in the Division of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
Dr. Ruel received his medical degree in 1994, and his board certification in cardiac surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2000. He subsequently pursued minimally invasive surgery and basic science training at Harvard University, where he also completed a master’s degree in public health. Dr. Ruel later returned to Harvard for leadership courses.
Dr. Ruel is a professor in the Department of Surgery and in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa. A seasoned heart surgeon, innovator, and researcher, the focus of Dr. Ruel’s career has been to make cardiac surgery less invasive, more evidence-based, and performed with better patient outcomes. Dr. Ruel has pioneered multi-vessel minimally invasive coronary artery bypass surgery worldwide, as well as several other cardiac surgical techniques. The BioEngineering and Therapeutic Solutions (BEaTS) laboratory research program founded by Dr. Ruel at the start of his career has also achieved translational impact and is now expertly led by Dr. Erik Suuronen and Dr. Emilio Alarcon.
In the 11 years he has led the UOHI’s Division of Cardiac Surgery, Dr. Ruel has enhanced the division’s reputation and presence both nationally and internationally. He has largely shaped the division’s approach to all aspects of patient care, while driving translational and clinical research outputs, and supporting advancements in surgical innovation (including a dedicated, philanthropically funded robotic cardiac surgery program). Under his leadership, the UOHI’s Division of Cardiac Surgery has massively improved in surgical volumes and national outreach, quality, research and innovation, advanced education, as well as in outside referrals, international reputation, widespread recruitment, and overall impact.
Dr. Ruel performs all types of cardiac surgery, including minimally invasive procedures, heart transplants and ventricular assist device implantations. He pioneered minimally invasive cardiac surgical coronary artery bypass grafting (MICS CABG) worldwide and he has delivered numerous international courses on MICS CABG and minimally invasive cardiac surgical valve surgery, which he teaches to surgeons from numerous countries on site in Ottawa, as well as across North America and abroad. Thousands of sternal-sparing coronary operations performed worldwide now use the techniques developed by Dr. Ruel. He has safely performed several other first-in-man operations that have led to successful clinical series. Dr. Ruel is the editor of a successful 600-page textbook about cardiac surgical techniques, published by Elsevier. Now in its third edition, nearly 10,000 copies have been sold worldwide.
Dr. Ruel has published over 450 scientific papers and chapters, and five books. He has delivered over 300 invited lectures. He continues to lead key clinical trials in cardiac surgery. In 2007, Dr. Ruel was awarded the Gold Medal in Surgery from The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for his work in regenerative medicine. In 2012, he received Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to cardiac care. He was the University of Ottawa’s alumnus of the year in 2013, and he was presented with the Order of Ottawa in 2018. Dr. Ruel is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. Dr. Ruel has been featured among the “Giants of Cardiothoracic Surgery.” He was until recently the president of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS), one of the most respected medical societies in the world. Since the CCS was established in 1947, only three other surgeons have held this role. Dr. Ruel serves as surgery editor and associate editor for the journal Circulation. He is the Canadian director for the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the North American director for the International Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery.
Dr. Ruel’s philosophy of care is in keeping with the core values of the Heart Institute. Above all, he relentlessly demonstrates a strong commitment to ensuring every patient and their family receives world-class care when they come to the hospital for surgery. This devotion extends, roots, and grows outward, resulting in a culture of care providers who consistently strive for excellence at all costs: in clinical/surgical care and technical innovation, in research, and in the dissemination of knowledge and support to peers, colleagues, and the aspiring healthcare leaders of tomorrow.