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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Luc Mertens, MD, PhD

The Hospital for Sick Children
Section Head, Echocardiography
Labatt Family Heart Centre

Research Institute
Associate Scientist
Translational Medicine

University of Toronto

Other Positions

Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network
Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Associate Staff

Phone: 416-813-7418
Fax: 416-813-5857
Email: luc.mertens@sickkids.ca

For more information, visit:

The Labatt Family Heart Centre

Brief Biography

Dr. Mertens graduated from medical school at the University of Leuven in Belgium in 1992. Afterwards, he was a researcher for the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research performing molecular biology research at the Laboratory of Physiology in the University of Leuven, Belgium. This resulted in a PhD thesis on the regulation of expression of the SERCA2 gene in muscle in 1995. Dr. Mertens specialized in paediatrics and paediatric cardiology at the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, and spent one year as a research fellow in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. In 1999 he became a consultant paediatric cardiologist at the University of Leuven where he worked until 2008. There, he developed his clinical research in the field of paediatric echocardiography with research focused on new echocardiographic techniques to assess cardiac function in children. He became one of the leaders in the field of paediatric echocardiography in Europe, and was active as Secretary of Imaging Working Groups of the Association for European Paediatric Cardiology (AEPC), Board Member of the European Association for Echocardiography, and Council member of the AEPC. He was involved in developing teaching and accreditation in paediatric echocardiography in Europe.

Research Interests

Dr. Mertens’ research activities are focused on studying heart function in children using novel echocardiographic techniques. Current research projects include:

  • Mechanistic interrogation of bicuspid aortic valve-associated aortopathy. This is a multicenter transatlantic initiative funded by the Leducq Foundation studying aortopathy in bicuspid aortic valve disease. The group is responsible for the creation of a central clinical database and for performing prospective imaging studies in children.  
  • Novel approaches to the prediction, diagnosis and treatment of cardiac late effects in survivors of childhood cancer. This is a CIHR funded multicenter study looking at imaging markers, biomarkers, and genetic markers for the early detection of cardiac dysfunction in pediatric cancer survivors exposed to anthracyclines.
  • Bicycle exercise echocardiography to study ventricular response to exercise in children with heart disease. The methods of semi-supine exercise echocardiography was optimized and standardized by our group. Normal values for the tissue Doppler and strain response to exercise in children with heart disease were established and the methodology was applied to children with different diseases (cardiomyopathy, transplant patients, coarctation patients, Fontan patients). Multiple studies are currently being performed.


Amant F., Vandenbroucke T, Verheecke, M, Fumagalli, M, Halaska, M.J., Boere, I., Han S., Mhallem Gziri M., Peccatori E., Rob L. , Lok C., Witteveen, E., Voigt JU, Naulaers  G., Vallaeys L., Van den Heuvel F., Lagae L., Mertens L., Claes L., Van Calsteren  K, for the International Network on Cancer, Infertility and Pregnancy (INCIP). Pediatric outcome after maternal cancer diagnosed during pregnancy. New England Journal of Medicine, 2015: 373 (19): pp 1824-34. (Nov)

Dallaire F, Slorach C, Hui W, Sarkola T, Friedberg MK, Bradley TJ, Jaeggi E, Dragulescu A, Har RL, Cherney DZ, Mertens L. Reference values for pulse wave Doppler and tissue Doppler imaging in pediatric echocardiography. Circulation – Cardivascular Imaging 2015: 8 (2): pii e002167. (Feb)

Traister A, Li M, Aafaqi S, Lu M, Arab S, Radisic M, Gross G, Guido F, Sherret J, Verma S, Slorach C, Mertens L, Hui W, Roy A, Olguin PD, Hannigan G, Maynes J, Coles J. Integrin-linked kinase (ILK) mediates force transduction in cardiomyocytes by modulating SERCA2a/PLN function. Nature Communications 2014: 11 (5): pp 4533. (Sept).

Cifra B, Dragulescu A, Brun H, Slorach C, Friedberg MK, Manlhiot C, McCrindle BW, Dipchand A, Mertens L. Left ventricular myocardial response to exercise in children after heart transplant. The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 2014: 33 (12): pp 1241-1247. (Dec).

Dragulescu A, Grosse-Wortmann L, Redington A, Friedberg M, Mertens L. Differential effect of right ventricular dilation on myocardial deformation in patients with atrial septal defects and patients after Tetralogy of Fallot repair. International Journal of Cardiology 2013: 168 (2): pp 803-810. (Sept)