Tigana Runte • Cardiovascular Network of Canada — CANet

Tigana Runte

Tigana’s experiences with CANet and the mentorship of researchers during her journey with CANet have shaped her career, she states excitedly. She has been involved with CANet for over eight years. It was in Tigana’s first year of university that she became an HQP working with Drs. Raj and Sheldon on syncope research at the University of Calgary. The CASMER team was developing a treat and refer protocol for Calgary EMS implementing the syncope risk score developed by Dr. Thiruguanasambandamoorthy of UOttawa. Tigana was passionate about this area of study as a syncope patient herself and valued how CANet (and this team specifically) honoured that patients contribute expertise to research. She remained with this team through the implementation of the protocol and had the opportunity to work on educational material and, most significantly, interview patients about the barriers they experienced and the opportunities they saw in syncope research (Williamson et al., 2021). This incredibly productive and diverse team were responsible for shaping Tigana’s career pathway. CANet funding of such ground breaking syncope research transformed the field, improved patients’ lives and launched the careers of numerous researchers, including Tigana. “Thank you Drs. Raj and Sheldon” says Tigana! 

Tigana’s HQP journey continued, working with Dr. Runte. Dr. Runte is a researcher and patient (chair of the Patient Advisory Council) who integrated Tigana into her team conducting interviews and focus groups across Canada, mapping the patient journey to receiving a diagnosis and living with an arrhythmia. Overall, they interviewed over a hundred patients and developed priorities that would be integrated into the early stages of the VIRTUES project. While remaining an HQP at CANet, and working with Dr. Runte’s team, Tigana continued to pursue her research in mathematics. Tigana remains particularly fascinated by graph theory and was honoured to be a Chinook Scholar at the University of Lethbridge. She has provided a copy of their study of ‘cops and robbers’ and graph theory for readers to enjoy (Morris et al., 2022). “I know, of course, that you all will be equally fascinated by graph theory! I also, under a cloak of secrecy, continued to pursue my other passion of opera—on at least a couple of occasions, fellow HQPs would wonder about who was singing Italian opera in their hotel room at midnight. Confession (five years late)—it was me!”. 

Upon graduation with a BSc in Mathematics, Tigana knew that she wanted/needed to continue her journey as a burgeoning researcher. She also knew that she wanted to continue to contribute to CANet and became an HQP rep on the Teaching and Education Committee (TEC) working with Dr. Allen and the CHAT team at CANet. Dr. Allen’s work coordinating the ever-growing number of HQPs and providing them with endless opportunities for personal and professional growth, has been one of the most powerful successes of CANet across these years. People who know Tigana are aware how much she loves pure mathematics as a discipline. Tigana is also truly passionate about conducting research that is transformative to the patient experience of health and wellness. Bringing these worlds together, Tigana pursued a MSc in Statistics (with a Biostatistics concentration) at UBC.

Her CANet journey continued as she pursued graduate studies. Tigana continued to be on the TEC, work on Dr. Runte’s patient journey study and joined Mitewekan. Tigana notes that “it seemed that as I developed as a researcher, at each stage of my journey a door opened to both humble and enlighten me as to the importance of the patient experience”. Mitewekan, headed by Drs. Alexandra and Malcolm King and supported by CANet and other organizations, is a transdisciplinary team dedicated to addressing the need for culturally safe and responsive heart care and research to address systemic inequities for Indigenous persons with cardiovascular disease. In addition to meeting the Kings (more on that in a moment), Tigana states that was honoured to be embraced and mentored by Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Holders.

During Tigana’s graduate studies, she was thrilled when Dr. Tang offered her an 8 month co-op at the CANet main office in London, Ontario. As the COVID pandemic devastated the world, CANet embraced the opportunity to create meaningful opportunities for patients isolating at home, often with tremendous uncertainty and largely disconnected from their care providers. CANet demonstrated the flexibility of VIRTUES by creating a patient monitoring protocol whereby, using VIRTUES, patients could monitor their symptoms from home. Her co-op was dedicated to analyzing the data from the VIRTUES COVID study and we demonstrated the meaningful impact that this virtual care model had for COVID patients.

Upon graduation, as a budding biostatistician, Tigana was hired by Dr. Tang to provide statistical support as part of his London Health Sciences team. She even got to keep my same desk from her time as a co-op student! One of the strengths of the CANet trainee program is that they recognize that early career professionals’ benefit from continued guidance and mentorship. Over the past year, Tigana has continued as an HQP and serving on the TEC and the Mitewekan team.

Tigana’s relationship with Drs. Alexandra and Malcolm King and the Mitewekan team has led to the next stage in her journey as Tigana begins her PhD studies at the University of Saskatchewan this fall in Health Sciences. “I think back to those first days as a CANet HQP and see the pathway of my career in science as beginning from that moment that Drs. Raj and Sheldon invited me to join the CANet funded CASMER team as an HQP. Journeys begin with a single step and that I took that step and those that followed as a CANet HQP.”

Recent Publications: 

Morris, J. M., Runte T., & Skelton, A. (2022). Most generalized Petersen graphs of girth 8 have cop number 4. AUSTRALASIAN JOURNAL OF COMBINATORICS83(2), 204-224.

Williamson, T. M., Runte, M., Runte, T., Raj, S. R., Blanchard, I. E., Sheldon, R. S., … & Community Alternatives to Syncope Management in the Emergency Room (CASMER) Executive Committee. (2021). A qualitative study to identify factors that influence patients’ decisions to call Emergency Medical Services for syncope. Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine23, 195-205.