Kiwi gains world-class skills in France

After gaining valuable experience at a world-leading medical centre in France, Dr Darren Hooks is now back home using his skills and talent to improve lives in New Zealand.

Dr Darren Hooks, New Zealand

Funded by the Heart Foundation, Dr Hooks headed off to France in 2014 to begin a one-year Fellowship in Electrophysiology at Haut-Leveque Hospital in Bordeaux.

During his year abroad, Dr Hooks focused on investigating new ways of treating atrial fibrillation, an increasingly common form of heart disease that causes an abnormal heart rhythm.

“The year in Bordeaux broadened my clinical and scientific horizons. I was able to test novel techniques to address atrial fibrillation, which included non-invasive mapping (on the body’s surface, rather than through surgery) of arrhythmia drivers.

“I was also involved in a first in-human study of defibrillating (rebooting) the heart back to normal rhythm using a lower amount of energy than what is traditionally used.”

Dr Hooks also gained experience in ablation (a treatment that aims to control or correct certain types of abnormally fast heart rhythms) of complex heart rhythm abnormalities such as ventricular tachycardia, atrial tachycardia, and those associated with congenital heart disease.

“I now use the experience gained in Bordeaux in my job as an Electrophysiologist at Wellington Hospital.

“By funding overseas Fellowships such as mine, the Heart Foundation plays a crucial role in increasing the expertise of cardiologists in New Zealand. Through the experience of health care abroad, cardiologists are able to bring new ideas and techniques back to New Zealand, which then improves the care that everyday Kiwis get from their specialists.” 

Discover more research stories