Dr. Daniel Niven | Top 40 Under 40


Age: 37

Job title: Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Calgary; Intensive Care Physician

Why he's a 2017 Top 40 Under 40:

Dr. Niven’s work to get doctors to switch outdated low-value technologies and treatments for high-quality, cutting-edge care has the potential to provide better outcomes at a lower cost. 


photograph by erin brooke burns


A snapshot of Dr. Daniel Niven’s desk: a few stacks of papers, fastidiously separated into groups with nary a sheet out of alignment. Neither a coffee mug nor crumb in sight.

“My wife would say I’m over-organized,” says the intensive care physician and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Calgary. “I think organization has helped me be successful over the years. I know very successful people who aren’t as organized, but, for me, it’s helped.”

That meticulousness is the hallmark of Niven’s approach. Despite less than a year as faculty at the University of Calgary, the clinician-scientist has published 42 scientific journal articles, including publications in some of the world’s top journals. What’s more, his findings have led to changes in the way critically ill patients are cared for.

His research focuses on the emerging field of “de-adoption” — getting health-care workers to stop using tests or treatments that have been found to be ineffective or harmful. 

A well-known study from the U.S.-based Institute of Medicine showed it takes, on average, 17 years to implement new discoveries into patient care. Niven’s work has demonstrated that it can take even longer to stop using old technologies and techniques. 

“My mission is to shorten this time period so that patients can benefit from new research as soon as possible,” says Niven. De-adoption of outdated treatments and tests has the potential to reduce preventable harm, decrease health-care costs and simplify care for patients, he says. In intensive care units (ICUs) across Calgary, his work has already led to changes in the way temperature is measured in admitted patients, in the way blood clots are prevented and in the use of ineffective blood products. 

Niven works in the ICU of the Peter Lougheed Centre, looking after patients with life-threatening conditions such as ruptured aneurysms, infections or major heart attacks. 

A father of three kids ages five and under, his idea of relaxation has changed in recent years — these days free time is usually spent playing sports with the five-year-old. 

“Life can change just like that,” he says. “We see that in the ICU all the time. It’s really humbling. And so, one of the things I’ve learned over time is just to enjoy life while you have it.” —Christina Frangou


Here's a breakdown of a typical workday for Dr. Daniel Niven.
Click here to see the workdays of all the Top 40 Under 40s.

Timelines were submitted by the Top 40 Under 40s, and do not reflect volunteer work, multi-tasking and periods of unusually high workloads.


Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2017

Marie-Claire Arrieta
Yann Blanchard
J.R. Brooks and Gareth Jenkins
Dr. Shauna Burkholder
Shawn Cable
David Crosby and Cole Torode
Kevin Davies
Anton deGroot
David Dick
Mark Erickson and Matthew Kennedy
Christina Fast
Dr. Geoffrey Gotto
Angel Guerra
Tulika Gupta
Devon Guy
Amanda Hamilton
Aubrey Hanson
Dr. Glen Hazlewood
Scott Henuset and Suzanne Henuset
Jeff Jamieson and Jesse Willis
Kenneth Keung
Matthew Kinderwater
Anila Umar Lee Yuen
Jennifer MacDonald
Richard MacDonald
Avnish Mehta
Uyen Nguyen
Dr. Daniel Niven
Melanie Noel
John Pantazopoulos
Mark Powers
Kevin Read and Julia Read
Eddie Richardson
Pam Rocker
Liz Scarratt
Dr. Fiona Schulte
Jessica Shaw
Dr. Amy Tan
Tommy Wheeldon, Jr.
Jennifer Winter


This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here.


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