Dr. David Ansley, MD, FRCPC

Clinical Professor – Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Contact Information:

Email: david.ansley@vch.ca
Ph: 604-827-3379


Dr. Ansley is a clinician scientist with 25 years experience in clinical care, research and teaching. His area of specialization is cardiac anaesthesiology.

Over the past 15 years, Dr. Ansley has supervised 2 undergraduate and 2 medical students, 4 research residents, 7 postgraduate fellows, one visiting scientist, one postdoctoral fellow, and 5 graduate students in Masters and Ph.D. programs. He has recently accepted a mentorship role of international fellows from Thailand and with new clinical faculty working in the Vancouver General Hospital Dept of Anesthesia. All four undergraduate/medical students went on to pursue postgraduate training in science, medicine or residency training in Anesthesiology. One is currently in the Royal College Postgraduate Training Program in Anesthesiology at the University of British Columbia. The other recently joined him as clinical faculty at his hospital, after following the same training pathway. All five postgraduate fellows are clinician leaders in their respective Departments of Anesthesiology . Three went on to pursue a Ph.D.: one has obtained the status of full Professor, one the status of Assistant Professor and one as hospital division leader in Australia, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and the Netherlands, respectively. His postdoctoral fellow joined his lab and is being mentored towards Research Associate. One of his three Ph.D. students currently is a faculty member at the University of Hong Kong; two are Ph.D candidates currently considering postdoctoral positions outside of the University of British Columbia who will go on to find jobs in academia or industry. His Masters students have pursued or will be pursuing careers in medicine.

Dr. Ansley promotes a culture of learning where individuals encourage and facilitate each other’s efforts to reach group goals. Dr. Ansley’s approach to research is systems oriented. The aim is to involve students in a compelling problem, then guide selection of the right tools by which to enlarge their understanding and assist their learning how experimental outcomes are interrelated. By combining these elements, students obtain an appreciation of understanding a problem as the art of research.

Dr. Ansley’s supervisory style is to match a student’s or staff member’s interests and abilities to a current research project which has funding or is a part of collaboration with other research groups. As a mentor, Dr. Ansley aims for “professional yet caring, demanding yet understanding, challenging yet encouraging.” The goal remains to motivate one another to stay the course, read vigorously, produce quality work, and prepare for all exams, meetings, and defenses to facilitate a student’s success. Aiming high, working hard, and giving back within a group context translates into achieving the individual’s academic and career goals.

While addressing the research process, emphasis is placed on quality work, academic writing, research productivity, time and resource management. Consequently, Dr. Ansley’s staff and graduate students have made considerable contributions in their field in the form of peer-reviewed journal articles, and presentations at national and international scientific conferences. His students have received a variety of awards, for instance the Michael Smith Foundation Postdoctoral Scholarship, Alberta Heritage Fund Postgraduate Award, and CIHR Frederick Banting Canada Graduate Student Scholarship at a PhD and Master’s level. Dr. Ansley’s interests in other graduate and postgraduate students in Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics has been demonstrated by serving on thesis defence committees, student advisory committees and as a member of the departmental Residency Training Committee and its Graduate Student Committee.

Research in Dr. Ansley’s group has mainly centred on patient oriented, translational clinical investigation of anesthetic mediated cardioprotection.

“When doing heart surgery, it is necessary to temporarily clamp off blood supply, so you can see what you’re doing. However, tissue without blood is also tissue without oxygen, and it takes oxygen to live. Surgeons hope that when blood and oxygen are returned to the tissue everything is protected and will function normally. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. In fact, a shift can occur and instead of bringing life the oxygen can start to kill the cells. The condition, known as ischemia reperfusion injury, is particularly common in people with diabetes. Finding a way to protect cells from oxygen driven death, especially for people with diabetes, has been the work of Dr. Ansley.”

Special emphasis is placed on establishing the role of intravenous propofol anesthesia in cardiac surgery as a preemptive cardioprotectant for the diabetic patient. It involves different methodologies that combine experimental (molecular biology and structural analysis) with the clinical (postoperative patient outcomes). This has allowed for a diverse group of student projects. The student makes their respective unique contribution in ongoing research. The group’s work has been invited for presentation nationally and internationally, including the United States, Europe and Asia.

“Our impression at this time is that the drug appears to change the biology of the cell. That change in biology has two functions: it changes the way that the cell handles oxidative stress, and it has the potential to preserve mitochondrial function from which you get cell preservation. Clinically we think that translates into reduced cardiac injury and that functional recovery could be different. Our intent is to see if that translates into improved ICU recovery and potentially altered hospital length of stay.

Dr. Ansley has been principle investigator funded from competitive sources such as Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) and Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society (CAS). He has collaborated with other research groups at UBC, and at national and international levels in multicentre studies of perioperative myocardial ischemia and blood conservation strategies for cardiac surgery. He has more than 100 published manuscripts, abstracts and conference proceedings. He is an invited reviewer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society. He is a sought after reviewer for nearly one dozen scientific journals including Anesthesiology, the American Journal of Physiology, the British Journal of Pharmacology, Free Radical Medicine and Biology, the American Heart Journal, and the Canadian Journal of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Ansley believes in, and is grounded by, involvement with community-based and faith-based organizations. He has been acknowledged for work in social justice initiatives designed to change the paradigm of poverty relief both nationally and internationally “from charity to justice”, “from giving a handout, to providing a hand up”. He has had the good fortune to have a friend, a former colleague of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, introduce him to the South African Zulu ethic Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Therein lives both challenge and opportunity experienced in the everyday.

Dr. Ansley resides in Vancouver with his wife Gayle, their sons Steven and Stuart, and Kona, the wonder dog.