It’s rare enough when one person is highly accomplished. A success in their field, entrepreneur, philanthropist, community leader, spouse, parent; for one individual to be all of these is impressive in and of itself. Partner them with another who is similarly accomplished, in distinct yet complimentary ways, and you’ve got a rarefied couple indeed.
While Dr. Anmol S. Kapoor, M.D. and his wife Raman Kapoor never set out to typify such archetype, having focused instead on their work and family, it’s that work – collective and individual, for profit and not-for-profit — which lands them in the category nonetheless.
Married 22 years, the Cardiologist and Registered Dietician have spent the last two decades working to improve the health of tens of thousands of Calgarians and Albertans, particularly ethnic minorities, through the establishment of medical clinics, charitable endeavours, technological innovations and community engagement.
“We are each other’s strengths,” Raman explains candidly. “We understand our own strengths and how we can utilize each other’s strengths to keep moving forward. We wouldn’t be able to do one without the other. It’s truly a testament to teamwork and a game of balance.”
Serious teamwork indeed. Between the two they own and operate four cardiology clinics, a medical aesthetics clinic, a pharmacogenomic clinic, a registered dietician practice, a heart-health charitable foundation and a biotechnology company. They also have two kids, ages 10 and 12.
But don’t assume they’ve come to it easy. Theirs is a decades-long journey involving significant challenge, visionary determination and a desire to help others.
Born and raised in Calgary, eight-year-old Raman first met nine-year-old Anmol on a family trip to India, where Anmol was born and raised. “We attended a ceremony hosted by Anmol’s parents for him and his brothers,” Raman recounts. “Anmol’s grandfather had bought him this brand-new bicycle as a gift. Of course he let everybody ride it but me!”
“One little mistake!” Anmol chuckles fondly. The snub was soon forgotten and Anmol, who eventually went to Russia for medical school, married Raman in 1998, then immigrated to Canada in 2000.
“When I arrived, I was one of those new immigrants who had no idea, but a strong desire to do something in Canada to help people and be successful like everyone else,” he recalls. “There were challenges as an international doctor, to have my medical training recognized and apply for further training opportunities which were limited for international doctors.”
The couple landed in Lethbridge where Raman practiced as a registered dietitian in multiple areas ranging from geriatrics, paediatrics, cardiac and community. and Anmol completed his second degree, in Information Technology at the University of Lethbridge. “I wanted to understand how computers and information systems work,” he explains. “That allowed me to upgrade my medicine skills. The dream was to combine technology with medicine one day.”
While completing internal medicine training at the University of Alberta, Anmol witnessed the challenges ethnic Canadians face in the health care system. “It wasn’t designed for multiethnic Canada,” he says frankly. “I saw disparities in how various ethnicities were treated.”
The Kapoors moved to Winnipeg where Anmol completed his cardiology training at the University of Manitoba and Raman, now a new mother, had her own private dietician practice. They moved back to Calgary in 2010 and a year later Anmol opened Advanced Cardiology Consultants and Diagnostics (ACCD) in the city’s northeast, offering complete cardiopulmonary investigations.
“Northeast Calgary is a very diverse community,” he explains. “It’s multi-ethnic, highly dense and has a growing disease burden. At that time there was no specialist cardiology clinic in the northeast. There was a need when it came to treating heart disease and diabetes.”
Originally a respiratory medicine and cardiology clinic, as demand increased so too did the size and offerings of ACCD, which eventually moved into its current larger location on 32nd avenue NE. “We’ve added advanced diagnostic services and modalities,” Anmol says, “including radiology services, internal medicine and family medicine.”
He recently opened a similar clinic in Medicine Hat, called albertamedical.ca, and south Calgary, and has plans to open one in Edmonton later this year.
The south Calgary clinic also houses ANRA Health, a specialized clinic offering pharmacogenomic, genomic and epigenetic workup services, the first of its kind in Alberta. “These are advanced tools, especially in the fields of oncology, dermatology and rheumatology,” Anmol explains. “They help people discover the genetic part of their story.”
After opening ACCD in 2011, Anmol and Raman (who had open heart surgery in 2000 for a congenital heart defect) recognized a lack of access to heart health information, particularly in the South Asian community, and wanted to do something about it. “We said ‘Why don’t we host a walk?’,” Raman recounts of the origins of their DIL Walk Foundation (DIL means heart in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu), a registered charity which began as a community walk and today holds a number of events throughout the year, including the annual DIL Walk and DIL Gala (a very popular gala event held annually the last five years). It also publishes a free multilingual magazine.
DIL (Do It For Life) Walk centres on four key components to increase awareness of heart disease: Wellness, Access, Linkages and Knowledge (WALK). “The Wellness component comes from multiple health professionals – from physicians to specialists, physiotherapists to pharmacists – who donate their time to speak to the public about their area of expertise,” Raman explains. “Access means bringing these health professionals into the community, to connect one-on-one with individuals. Linkages is about using pre-existing resources and linking them back to the community. And knowledge is fostered by our magazine which is written multilingually in layman terms, by health professionals.”
Apart from the DIL Walk and DIL Gala, other events hosted by the foundation have been popular. In 2017, it hosted Western Canada’s largest hands-only CPR training, where 500 people were simultaneously trained.
One hundred per cent of the proceeds from DIL Walk events are returned to the community. They also fund the University of Calgary’s Heart Research Chair, established in collaboration with the DIL Walk Foundation, to focus on heart research.
“What makes our foundation unique is that it’s 100 per cent volunteer run,” Raman notes. “And each year we give about 100 individuals in the community the opportunity to volunteer. It’s a great way to connect with the youth and help them gain experience.”
Through the Foundation the Kapoors launched Charm Clinic, Alberta’s only working charitable heart failure clinic. “We have over 55,000 Albertans living with heart failure yet there was no clinic that provides heart failure care,” Anmol laments. “Today, we look after about 400 Albertans, primarily Calgarians, who suffer from heart failure disease, at no cost to them or the health care system.”
The Charm Clinic offers complete diagnosis and treatment for heart failure. “It has saved the public system over 300 hospital visits,” Anmol adds. “At a cost of $30,000 to $40,000 per visit, that’s a significant savings.”
The other major success born out of the Charm Clinic is CardiAI, a biotechnology company founded by Anmol three years ago. CardiAI develops platform-based medical diagnostics devices and software. “Many of our heart failure patients are just waiting to get worse and end up in the emergency room,” Anmol laments, “so we developed a mobile application to disrupt the traditional laboratory diagnostic process.
Typically, patients get their blood tested at the lab and must wait days for the results. “We wanted to find a way where we could test for the biomarkers for heart disease (NT-proBNP) from a finger prick instead,” Anmol continues. “This allows patients to obtain their results fast and at home.”
The team at CardiAI – which includes molecular biologists, stem cell researchers, engineers and other scientists – had been working towards the commercialization of point-of-care testing when COVID-19 hit.
“We realized that our technologies could help solve puzzles with various infectious diseases,” he says. “We asked our team to determine how we can utilize our platforms and concepts to rapidly diagnose COVID-19. This is how CoviLamp came into existence.”
Developed last year, CoviLamp is a hybrid, LAMP based PCR test for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus. It does away with the expensive and time-consuming nature of PCR testing while maintaining accuracy and sensitivity. “We’ve combined the highly accurate PCR based testing with the LAMP technology. So the reaction time is reduced from two hours to 20 minutes. We’ve created a new gold standard to clear the backlogs in testing and help increase capacity from the same machine.”
CoviLamp is currently awaiting FDA and Health Canada approval, and is authorized to sell in the U.S. pending approval. “We’re hopeful that soon Albertans will be able to use our rapid COVID test,” Anmol offers. “We’re in conversation with labs in the U.S., and with companies in the Middle East, India and Africa.”
He adds the technology is applicable for rapid testing other infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, and ZiKa, as well as for testing for disease in livestock and fisheries.
Similarly keen on helping others improve their health, Raman opened her own clinic in 2019. NEA (Nutrition Enhanced Aesthetics) Medical Aesthetic Clinic aims to empower women and help them with their self-confidence, by focusing from the inside out.
“NEA is the Hindi word for new,” Raman notes. “The clinic is about building capacity in the community. There was a real gap and the women that come here really had nowhere to go. There wasn’t a clinic that understood them from a personal, professional and cultural standpoint. NEA is that bridge that helped bring women, particularly form vulnerable communities such as ethnic minorities, to something that empowers them, gives them confidence and provides them health.”
The staff at NEA are from ethnic backgrounds and multilingual, as is the majority of its clientele. Many treatments are offered, the most popular being truSculpt, a personalized muscle sculpting treatment. “We’re the only clinic in the province that has truSculpt body,” Raman says. “We have both the fat burning and the muscle building machines. And with my expertise in nutrition we have a truly holistic approach.”
Skin conditions such as hyper pigmentation, melasma and acne, and medical issues including sleep apnea and snoring are also treated at NEA. The clinic uses the Fotona laser for several noninvasive medical treatments.
Though forced to close for a time during the pandemic, NEA reopened with fervor last summer. “Our clients needed to take some time for themselves,” Raman observes. “There are a lot of mental health issues during COVID times and self-care can be a healing point to help people get through it.”
A dream-team if there ever was one, Anmol and Raman Kapoor have discovered and met their callings with enthusiasm, dedication and compassion. Their clinics, innovations and charities have and will continue to positively impact the lives of thousands of Albertans for years to come.