TRANSFORM HF supports research on heart failure care and prevention that has translational potential, patient-centered design, and a focus on health equity.

A key way we advance our mission and expand our network is through our Collaboration Starter Grants. With collaboration at the heart, these grants support members of our community working together by providing funding for the initial stages of research and project proposals. This may include preliminary research and data collection, proposal writing and editing, and patient or Knowledge Keeper compensation and facilitation.

Each year, we open our Collaboration Starter Grant competition to members of our network. Often, many of the proposed projects and collaborations are formed or nurtured through TRANSFORM HF events.

We’re thrilled to announce the Collaboration Starter Grant recipients for 2024:

  • Dr. Quynh Pham (Scientific Director and Principal Investigator, Centre for Digital Therapeutics, University Health Network) and team
  • Dr. Mali Worme (Cardiologist in Heart Failure and Echocardiography, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre) and team
  • Dr. Enid Montague (Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto) and team
  • Dr. Camellia Zakaria (Assistant Professor, Biostatistics / IHPME, Dalla Lana School of Public Health) and team

Read on to learn more about their projects!

Establishing Equitable Human Factors Design Methods to Improve Digital Therapeutics for Heart Failure Management

Dr. Quynh Pham, Dr. Enid Montague, Dr. Charlene Chu, Ruben Tjhie, Dr. Sarah Ritvo, and Soyun Oh

Dr. Pham and her team of interdisciplinary collaborators want to shift the paradigm in human factors design methodology. The group is building new Medly modules for mental health, drug titration, and caregiver support guided by human factors design methods to ensure a safe interaction between the user and technology; however, through this process, they’ve identified significant inclusion, equity, diversity, and access limitations in their human factors approaches.

Leveraging their unique disciplines and areas of expertise, this collaboration will work to advance equitable human factors design, with an overarching goal of addressing structural inequities in remote heart failure management.


I believe that our project will catalyze equitable digital therapeutics by fundamentally reshaping the design process to prioritize the voices of marginalized communities. By advancing human factors methodologies that emphasize equity and inclusivity, we can develop heart failure solutions that are not only effective but also accessible for diverse populations, ultimately reducing disparities and improving health outcomes for patients and families across Canada living with heart failure.

– Dr. Pham

AED Access in the Weeneebayko Area

Dr. Mali Worme, Dr. Timothy Chan, Dr. Andrew Ha, Dr. Katherine Turner, Dr. Mena Gewarges, and Ms. C Kapashesit

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are vital for saving lives during cardiac arrest; however, despite their efficacy, the accessibility, maintenance, and utilization of AEDs in the Weeneebayko Area is currently unknown.

Dr. Worme and team are conducting a comprehensive assessment to identify barriers to AED deployment, determine optimal locations for prospective AED placement, and develop culturally sensitive strategies to improve access to an AEDs during cardiac arrest in this region. This project will have a significant focus on engagement with community leaders, elders, and residents to understand their perspectives and will also work in partnership with the AED Foundation of Ontario—a non-profit organization made up of paramedics—to help enhance community preparedness.


We are really excited to have received a Collaboration Starter Grant from TRANSFORM HF! The funding will allow us to study and improve the current AED environment in the James and Hudson Bay region. We hope to improve access to AEDs, enhance community preparedness for cardiac arrest, and integrate digital solutions to enhance AED maintenance and availability all in a culturally sensitive way that promotes inclusivity and trust.

– Dr. Worme

Identifying Equity Failures in Heart Failure Access, Treatment and Self Management for Black Canadians and Co-Designed Solutions 

Dr. Enid Montague, Dr. Yas Moayedi, Dr. Husam Abdel-Qadir, Dr. Chris McIntosh, and Tselot Tessema

Dr. Montague and team are developing a research collaboration to identify the barriers and facilitators to heart failure treatment for Black patients in the Greater Toronto Area. Using an intersectional lens and community-based approach, their collaboration will include UHN, the University of Toronto’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, local community health centers, and the Black Health Alliance—a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada. Their goal is to develop equity centered solutions that address system failures and health disparities.


Our research activities are designed to foster meaningful partnerships with the Black community in Toronto by actively involving community members in our research planning and decision-making processes. By prioritizing culturally competent and inclusive care initiatives, we aim to bridge gaps in healthcare access and outcomes for all people in the GTA. These efforts will not only strengthen trust and collaboration but also ensure that care is equitable, respectful, and tailored to the unique needs of the Black community.

– Dr. Montague

Designing Equitable Patient-Centered Smart Pillowcase for Better Sleep and Heart-Healthy Living

Dr. Camellia Zakaria, Dr. Ben Kim, and Dr. Renzo Calderon-Anyosa

Dr. Zakaria and team are developing a smart pillowcase equipped with Electroencephalogram (EEG), Electrooculography (EOG), Electrodermal Activity (EDA), pulse oximeter (SPO2), and motion sensors to measure different features characterizing sleep apnea. Their aim is to promote smart pillowcases as an equitable home monitoring tool for people living with heart failure and a convenient device add-on for inpatient ward use.

Currently in the prototyping phase, the team will engage in participatory design processes—including patient users with heart failure—to investigate usability, large scale deployment, and comfort for users.

Sleep disruption is prevalent among inpatients, a significant obstacle to their recovery from the condition requiring their hospitalization. [The] TRANSFORM HF Collaboration Starter Grant has offered the platform we, health and technology researchers, need to make sure the new technology we create benefits and supports those who need it the most, with a focus on promoting sleep comfort while enabling inpatient monitoring.

– Dr. Zakaria

Keep up with our recipients’ journeys by following TRANSFORM HF on Twitter and LinkedIn.  

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