Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, Edmonton, Member
MD, MBA, FRCPC, MACC, ICD.D
Term to March 31, 2014. Pediatric and adult congenital cardiologist Ruth Collins-Nakai — known as “Dr. Ruth” by her patients — was born in southern Alberta. She graduated from the University of Alberta medical school in 1972, and after interning at McGill, returned to Alberta for pediatric training, followed by a cardiology fellowship at Harvard University, then more recently, an MBA (1998), and corporate director’s training (2007-2008).
In 1977 Dr. Collins-Nakai joined the faculty of the University of Alberta, serving in various academic positions, including Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Dean of Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. She was highly regarded as a mentor and professor, earning various teaching honours. In addition to establishing the Heritage Pediatric Cardiology Program, precursor of the current Western Canadian Congenital Heart Program, Dr. Collins-Nakai was the first to perform many innovative interventional catheterization procedures in Western Canada. In 2001 she left academia to divide her time between clinical practice and health care consulting. She now continues with consulting, board appointments, and works part-time as a partner in Compass Biotech Consulting.
Dr. Collins-Nakai has worked at provincial, national and international levels in such roles as Commissioner on the Premier’s Commission on Future Health Care for Albertans, President of the Alberta Medical Association, Chair of the Board of Governors of the American College of Cardiology (first Canadian), President of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (first woman), President of the InterAmerican Society of Cardiology (first woman), as one of the founding members of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and in 2005-2006, President of the Canadian Medical Association. In the health and research sphere, she currently serves on the boards of Genome Alberta and Alberta Health Services.
Professionally, she has worked on national projects ranging from physician resource planning, and health care financing in the country, to federal-provincial surveillance systems. In 2001 the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences awarded her its Distinguished Achievement Award for promoting cardiovascular education and research throughout the world and in 2005 was recognized as one of Alberta’s 100 Physicians of the Century. In 2007 she was awarded the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Lois E. Hole’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2008 the Canadian Medical Association’s Medal of Service. She has been named a “Distinguished Citizen” by Grant MacEwan College and in June 2009 was recognized and installed in the Edmonton Hall of Fame for her service to community.
The energy, compassion, intellect and leadership Dr. Collins-Nakai generates are not confined to medicine. She has been a strong supporter of the need for education and science in Alberta and has worked to increase research funding overall in Canada. She has encouraged and helped young entrepreneurs, &, in part through her work on the Board of Management of the Alberta Science & Research Authority, has helped to promote a knowledge-based industry. She routinely mentors and supports young people from a variety of fields. She has volunteered in the charitable sector, serving such major organizations as the Muttart Foundation in its quest for better lives for children and a more effective charitable sector, and in the education sector in such roles as Vice-Chair on the Board of Governors for Grant MacEwan College (now University). She has had continuous board experience for the past 2 decades, often in the role of board chair or in charge of strategic planning or resourcing.
Dr. Collins-Nakai’s personal interests include the outdoors, golfing, skiing, reading and traveling. Her husband, Dr. S.S. (Nick) Nakai, retired from cardiovascular–thoracic surgery practice in 2001. They have two grown children, Natasha and Sunil.