Pierre Paul David, CC, OQ, cardiologist and senator (born 25 December 1919 in Montréal, QC; died 5 April 1999 in Montréal). Dr. David founded the Montreal Heart Institute in 1954 and is regarded as the father of cardiology in Québec.

Education and Early Career

Paul David was born into a family deeply involved in political and social affairs. His father, Athanase David (1881-1953), was a Member of the Legislative Assembly and Provincial Secretary of Québec in the government of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, and later a Liberal senator. His mother, Antonia Nantel (1886-1955), was one of the founding members of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1934. His grandfather, Laurent-Olivier David (1840-1926), an esteemed man of letters, was also a Member of the Legislative Assembly and then a Liberal senator

After studying at Université de Paris before the Second World War, Paul David earned his Doctor of Medicine at Université de Montréal in 1944. He then did residencies in cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Lariboisière Hospital in Paris, where he developed his expertise working with renowned cardiologists such as Paul Dudley White and Jean Lenègre.

Montreal Heart Institute

After returning to Québec in 1948, Dr. David was appointed head of the cardiology department at the Maisonneuve Hospital, newly founded by the Sisters of Charity of Montreal. In 1954, he founded the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI), which was the first institution in Canada to combine all cardiology services under a single roof. Dr. David served as director of the MHI for the next 30 years.

It was at the MHI that a team led by Dr. Pierre Grondin performed the first heart transplant in Canada, on 31 May 1968. By the following year, the MHI had performed nine transplants, but all of the patients had died shortly after surgery, leading Dr. David to impose a moratorium on the procedure. This moratorium remained in effect until 1983, when the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine became available. The first of the “second generation” heart transplants was performed at the MHI on 24 April 1983. The patient was a young woman, Diane Larose, and her new heart let her survive long enough to receive a second heart transplant in 1993 (see Medical Research). Since that time, heart transplants have become common procedures.

In December 1984, Dr. David retired from the Institute that he had founded. The following year, he was appointed to the Senate by Brian Mulroney, for the Progressive Conservative party. He held this position until 1994, despite a severe stroke in 1992 that left him unable to speak and partly paralyzed.

Social Involvement

Regarded as the father of cardiology in Québec, Dr. David was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2011. The author of over 150 scientific publications, he served as chair of the board of directors (1966–69) and of the editorial board (1979–80) of the Union médicale du Canada, the official journal of the Association des médecins de langue française du Canada (AMLFC — the association of French-speaking physicians of Canada). He was also president of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society from 1958 to 1960 and the AMLFC from 1977 to 1978. Dr. David helped to promote French-language medical research both in Canada and internationally, in particular through his role in establishing the Comité international des congrès de cardiologie de langue française (international committee of French-language cardiology conferences).

Dr. David also chaired various humanitarian organizations, such as the Cardinal Léger Institute for Health, the Claude Brunet Foundation, and the Carrefour des chrétiens des services de santé. He sat on the boards of directors of the Vanier Institute of the Family, the Foyer Rousselot, the Montreal Heart Institute and the Montreal Heart Institute Research Fund.

Legacy and Public Recognition

Dr. David’s first wife was the novelist Nellie Maillard, daughter of Charles Maillard, a painter and director of the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. He had six children, several of whom are well known for their social, political and intellectual involvement in Québec society. His oldest daughter, Françoise David, was president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec from 1994 to 2001 and has been co-spokesperson for the political party Québec Solidaire since 2006. Another of his daughters, Hélène David, received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Université de Montréal, held a professorship at this institution and went on to become a senior civil servant. Since April 2014, she has been the Member of the National Assembly of Québec for the riding of Outremont and Minister of Culture and Communications in the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard. Dr. David’s youngest son is Charles-Philippe David, a professor of political science at Université du Québec à Montréal; he also holds the Raoul Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies.

In 2000, Dr. David’s son Pierre and his daughter Anne-Marie founded the Dr. Paul David Foundation to support various organizations that work with people who have aphasia. Since 2010, this foundation has ceased its activities but continues to pursue its objectives through the Dr. Paul David Fund, which is administered by the Théâtre Aphasique and dedicated to this theatre’s activities.

The Montreal Heart Institute Foundation, in partnership with the Faculty of Medicine of Université de Montréal, has also established a research chair in his honour.

Honours and Awards

Order of Merit, Association des diplômés de l’Université de Montréal (1968)

Officer of the Order of Canada (1968)

Urgel Archambault Award, Association canadienne française pour l’avancement des sciences (Acfas) (1969)

Companion of the Order of Canada (1981)

Academy of Great Montrealers (1981)

Grand Officer of the National Order of Québec (1988)

Medal of Merit, Association des médecins de langue française du Canada (1989)

Inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (2011)