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Medical History

The Heartbeat of Innovation

A History of Cardiac Surgery at the Toronto General Hospital

by (author) Edward Shorter, Hugh E. Scully & Bernard S. Goldman

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2022
History, History, Cardiology, History, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price

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Great innovations take place within great institutions. Founded in 1819, Toronto General Hospital (TGH) is one of Canada’s oldest hospitals and has created a nurturing environment for early Canadian innovations in heart surgery. The Heartbeat of Innovation tells the story of the brilliant surgeons who worked there and the hospital environment that provided an incubator to the many people – skilled perfusionists, dedicated nurses, and pioneering cardiologists – who participated in the revolution in heart surgery that took place along University Avenue in Toronto.


Supported by historical records, hospital archives, personal memoirs, and interviews, this book is an extensive and descriptive account of the seemingly inexorable development of cardiac surgery at this leading academic health science centre. It pursues several themes: the complexity of this surgical specialty, its generally male-dominated nature, the trend toward teamwork in practice, and the evolution and incorporation of original research into this branch of healthcare. These strands are woven together to demonstrate how the TGH has evolved into such a dominant leader in the competitive and demanding field of cardiac surgery. Canadian hearts may beat with pride at the knowledge that one of the major stories in modern medicine took place here – and continues here.

About the authors

Edward Shorter is the Hannah Professor of the History of Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire, shortlisted for the 2005 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He is also a two-time winner of the Royal Society of Canada’s Hannah Medal for writing in the history of medicine.

Edward Shorter's profile page

Hugh E. Scully is a professor emeritus of surgery and of health policy management and evaluation at the University of Toronto.

Hugh E. Scully's profile page

Bernard S. Goldman is a professor emeritus of cardiac surgery in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a heart surgeon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. .

Bernard S. Goldman's profile page

Other titles by Edward Shorter