Celebrating Health Research

Discover how and why health researchers are changing lives, and hear firsthand from the patients whose lives have been affected by health research. 

Designing, formulating and developing the next generation of drug and vaccine delivery systems

A special focus on the site-specific targeting, controlled release, and drug resistance, are among the exciting new research avenues being pursued

Dr. Abdelwahab Omri
Laurentian University

My research program is centered on the design, formulation, development and characterization of drug and vaccine delivery systems; particularly those based on liposomes. A special focus on the site-specific targeting, controlled release, drug resistance, pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, metabolism and toxicity of free and liposome-encapsulated biological active agents.

Research interests:

  1. Liposomal delivery of antisense oligonucleotides. Effect on P-glycoprotein function in multidrug resistant cells in vitro and in vivo studies. Cationic liposome formulations are used to promote the penetration of antisense oligonucleotides into the cell membrane and protect them from enzymatic degradation (nucleases).
  2. Liposomal delivery of antimicrobial agents towards resistant bacterial pathogens: pulmonary and systemic infections. Construction of liposomes with high encapsulation efficiency, favourable antimicrobial release profile and enhanced bactericidal activity, to overcome the problem of bacterial resistance caused by low permeability of the bacterial cell envelope and by production of antimicrobial-inactivating enzymes.
  3. Liposomal formulations of drugs and vaccine for oral delivery. Liposomes are used to protect the encapsulated agents from the harsh gastrointestinal milieu (low pH, phospholipases, and bile salts) and to enhance their absorption to the systemic circulation and to increase the efficacy of these agents while minimizing their frequency of administration. Special liposomal formulation will be prepared, characterized and assayed for their efficacy in vitro and in animal models.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Patients with Alzheimer’s disease exhibit a decrease in Omega-3,-6,-9 unsaturated fatty acids

Exploring whether the consumption of certain foods could prevent the development of this neurodegenerative disease

Ms. Valerie Desjardins
University of Ottawa

As a member of the Bennett Laboratory, I study the abundance of lipids (fats) in genetically modified mice that mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by deteriorating cognitive functions due to amyloid (a waxy, translucent substance) plaques, the main component of which are amyloid beta peptides. I look for lipid increase or decrease in these mice and whether a change in diet (rich or poor in these lipids) will prevent the devastating advancements of neural function loss in the mouse model.

My contribution to this project is to quantify the lipids using in silico (computer simulation) techniques to compare healthy and symptomatic mice, as well as compare normal and enriched diets.

Have you ever noticed how some foods are fortified with omega 3 fats, like eggs or margarine? In fact, Alzheimer’s patients exhibit a decrease in omega-3,-6,-9 unsaturated fatty acids and we are researching if the consumption of these foods could prevent the development of this neurodegenerative disease.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


The evolution of antibiotic resistance in disease causing bacteria

Developing novel strategies for slowing, or even reversing, the evolution of resistance

Dr. Alex Wong
Carleton University

My lab studies the evolution of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria. I find this work particularly interesting because it applies the rich body of knowledge in molecular evolution to a serious public health challenge. We use a variety of approaches, including genetic screens, experimental evolution, and comparative genomics, to understand how resistance arises and persists, and to identify novel vulnerabilities in resistant cells.

Ultimately, we are interested in strategies for slowing, or even reversing, the evolution of resistance, whether through public health measures or through the development of new drugs.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Working to develop genetics-informed, nutrition-based strategies to protect mental health

How psychiatric genetic counseling can empower people to protect their own mental health and that of their family members

Dr. Jehannine Austin
University of British Columbia

I never planned to be a researcher but, I ended up working in mental health research because I wanted to find new ways to help families like my own.

I completed a PhD in psychiatric genetics and trained as a genetic counselor. This provided me with the skills that I need to take the complexity of what we know about how genetics contributes to psychiatric disorders and be able to translate it in ways that families living with these conditions can meaningfully use to help protect their own mental health.

My team is working to use what we know about the genetics of psychiatric disorders to help people who live with these conditions, as well as their families. To do this, we are conducting research in different areas. We are working to develop genetics-informed, nutrition-based strategies to protect mental health, and are generating new knowledge about how psychiatric genetic counseling can empower people to protect their mental health.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to nutrition and medication does not always fit

Studying diet and genetics to treat and prevent cardiometabolic and immune mediated disease

Dr. Leah Cahill
Dalhousie University

I am a new principal investigator who has recently started a research group to examine the influence of nutrition, genetics, and their interactions with each other on cardiometabolic and immune-mediated diseases. In order to do this, I use epidemiological and clinical patient-oriented research methods. The costs of cardiometabolic disease (e.g. heart disease and type 2 diabetes) and immune mediated conditions (e.g. Crohn’s disease and hematopoietic disorders) are staggering, both in terms of healthcare expenditures and quality of life.

Our work aims to identify optimal eating practices and the biological pathways, proteins, and microbiota that are important for the treatment and prevention of these diseases, researching at both the patient and population levels. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to nutrition and medication does not always apply, and sometimes a more personalized, patient-oriented approach is necessary.

My ultimate goal is for our research results to inform guidelines that reduce risks of cardiometabolic and immune mediated diseases.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Living well without dialysis

Tailor-made combinations of structures, processes and techniques address the unique needs of kidney patients

Dr. Sara Davison
University of Alberta

Dialysis is the default treatment for most patients living with end-stage kidney disease. However, frail patients, especially those with other health problems, may not benefit from dialysis. In fact, dialysis may worsen their survival rate and quality of life.  In September 2016, Dr. Sara Davison and her team, the Kidney Supportive Care Research Group (KSCRG), launched an innovative pilot, Conservative Kidney Management (CKM) Pathway, across Alberta to provide integrated care to patients unlikely to benefit from dialysis and who had chosen a conservative approach to care.

The pathway focuses on slowing the decline in kidney function while actively managing symptoms and preserving functional status and quality of life. It involves tailor-made combinations of structures, processes and techniques to address unique patient needs and system-community circumstances. The KSCRG is currently evaluating the Pathway, including an on-line interactive patient decision aid. The overall vision of the KSCRG is to reduce suffering and help patients enjoy life while living with advanced chronic kidney disease.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Preventing falls among seniors – finding balance in Saskatchewan

Simple and proven home exercise program helps seniors avoid potentially life-altering falls

Dr. Shanthi Johnson
University of Regina

Falls are not an inevitable part of aging, although they are common, complex, and costly. My collaborative research, conducted in partnership with the Regina Qu’Appelle and Sun Country Health Regions, focused on a simple and proven home exercise program helps seniors, including those in the rural setting, remain independent in their homes.  Senior home-care clients who were doing in-home exercises, taught be experts and regularly monitored through the home care network, showed significant improvement physical function associated with reducing falls. The home-support exercise program, developed by the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, involves ten simple progressive exercises, each carefully designed to increase functional capacity and prevent falls in seniors. The exercises can be done in the home, without special equipment, or large spaces. Falls, poor balance, and the fear of falling can be devastating to seniors and regular exercise is a first line of defense.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Advances in stroke treatment prove that there’s more than one way to bust a blood clot!

Dramatically improving stroke patients’ outcomes thanks to better diagnosis and treatment options research

Dr. Michael D. Hill
University of Calgary

Our group in Calgary is working to improve stroke care for victims of all types of stroke.   We have become clinician-researchers because the cycle of good quality care, clinical quality improvement and clinical research keeps improving patient outcomes.  This integration of clinical research and care drives us and the field forward.  We are conducting clinical trials in stroke diagnosis (with imaging) and stroke treatment. We completed the ESCAPE trial, which demonstrated that treating patients with endovascular thrombectomy, meaning an intra-arterial intervention (over and above best standard of medical care) resulted in dramatically better outcomes from major ischemic stroke. 

We are now working on novel thrombolytic stroke treatments in minor stroke (TEMPO-2 trial) and a new drug called NA-1 in conjunction with endovascular stroke treatment for major stroke (ESCAPE-NA1 trial).

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Birth medicine: 3D modeling of how babies are born

Using 3D printing to create soft robots that mimic the cervix during labour

Dr. James Andrew Smith
York University

I’m a biomedical robotics researcher at York University and started modeling how babies are born during my wife’s first pregnancy. The more we met with our midwives, the more questions I had about how we measure the health of a pregnancy and how we predict birth outcomes. To understand the process for myself, I teamed up with midwives from Ryerson University and a researcher in Gynecology and Obstetrics from McMaster University in order to create new models of the uterus and the cervix. Using measurements from post-hysterectomy uteruses and computer models we examine how cervixes get soft and then efface and dilate during labour to let the baby leave the uterus. We use the latest developments in 3D printing to create soft robots that mimic the cervix during labour. In the future we plan to use this process to create custom models for training obstetricians and midwives attending high-risk births.

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Harnessing the power of the body’s healing mechanism

Investigators discover a protein with healing properties that may help overcome diseases like multiple sclerosis

Dr. Shalina Ousman
University of Calgary

It is thrilling to be the first person on our planet to make a discovery that advances knowledge or contribute to a new therapy. My lab studies multiple sclerosis (MS) and peripheral nerve injury. The rationale for our work is that whenever our bodies sustain an injury such as a bruise, our bodies mount a healing mechanism. That likely happens in all diseases, so our questions are, what are these endogenous (meaning growing or occurring from within) protective mechanism, why are they unable to overcome the disease or injury and, can we harness their healing properties to overcome the disease?

Excitingly, one of our MS discoveries showing that a small heat shock protein called alphaB-crystallin is protective in a model of MS, has been shown to be possibly successful in Phase 1 and Phase 2a trials in MS patients.  

Further reading

October 16, 2017


Currently without a cure, Fragile X Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome are genetic disorders presenting with autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy

Canadian research advances in genetic research may be applicable to the development of therapies for other neurodevelopmental conditions

Dr. David R. Hampson
University of Toronto

Fragile X Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome are genetic disorders presenting with autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy, and currently have no cure. Dr. David R. Hampson and his team at the University of Toronto are utilizing viral vector-mediated gene therapy as a potential novel biological therapeutic treatment. Evaluation of the efficacy of these treatments on animal behaviour and neurobiology has shown amelioration of symptoms in a mouse model of Fragile X Syndrome.

The team is seeking further improvements in vector design and drug delivery for potentially treating human Fragile X. They expect that knowledge gleaned from their work on Fragile X will be extended to the generation and testing of vectors for use in Dravet Syndrome. One major advantage of viral vector-mediated gene therapy is that a single administration of the biological therapeutic drug could translate into long-term improvement or correction. It is also anticipated that advances in this research may be applicable to the development of gene therapy for other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


Combatting sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of infection that can trigger organ failure

Researchers are using the body’s natural clearance mechanism to accelerate the elimination of life threatening toxins

Dr. Jim Russell
Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital

Sepsis kills more people than heart attacks. Imagine a cold or the flu, but ten times worse. And then your organs start to fail, your heart, lungs, kidneys and eventually the brain. Even with antibiotics a third of sepsis patients die.

At the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, Dr. Jim Russell and his team are figuring out how sepsis causes organ failure and how to improve survival rates.

The team members were the first to discover that PCSK9 inhibitors, used to lower cholesterol in cardiovascular disease, are effective in sepsis. Now, they are developing a PCSK9 inhibitor to use alongside antibiotics in order to increase the chance of treatment success by using the body’s natural clearance mechanism to accelerate the excretion of the bacterial endotoxins that cause organ failure.

Dr. Russell was the recipient of the 2017 Aubrey J. Tingle Prize in recognition of his contribution to the fields of critical care, severe infection and clinical trial design in British Columbia and globally.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


Improving strategies for health professionals

New prospective studies indicate improved outcomes for pregnancies in women with rheumatic diseases

Dr. Evelyne Vinet
McGill University

The overarching goal of my research is to improve reproductive outcomes in women with rheumatic diseases and their offspring. I created the world's largest cohort of children born to women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and with this unique resource demonstrated that SLE offspring had more than a 2-fold increase in the risk of autism spectrum disorders and congenital heart disease compared to children from the general population, pioneering a completely new horizon for future studies of maternal autoimmunity and risk of adverse health outcomes.

I am conducting a focus group study assessing the clinical and psychosocial needs, barriers, and facilitators to pregnancy counselling in women with rheumatoid arthritis and SLE in order to improve strategies for health professionals counselling pregnant women with rheumatic disease.

I am also building the Lupus prEGnAnCY (LEGACY) cohort, a large, multi-centre, international prospective cohort of SLE pregnancies, to evaluate adverse pregnancy outcomes, their predictors, and potential preventive therapies.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


A health research trifecta!

Three seminal discoveries, all with a unique focus on three areas of pain research

Dr. Terence J. Coderre
McGill University

Three pain research focuses; three seminal discoveries.

Firstly, I have identified the molecule responsible for maintaining memory traces in pain neurons. I showed protein kinase M-zeta (PKMζ) produces pain hypersensitivity by sustaining the potentiation of pain neurons, and inhibiting PKMζ reduces pain by erasing these neural memories traces. Secondly, I established that pain hypersensitivity depends on actions of a neurotransmitter at newly discovered receptors within the nucleus of pain neurons.

I revealed that persistent pain leads to increases in a type of nuclear metabotropic glutamate receptor 5, and that blocking these nuclear receptors more effectively reduces pain than inhibiting cell surface receptors.

Thirdly, I have determined that microvascular injury is essential for neuropathic pain and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). I revealed that injuries causing neuropathic pain and CRPS produce microvascular damage that reduces the oxygen supply to muscle and nerves, and the resulting pain can be alleviated by improving microvascular function.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


The quest to find better ways to assess and treat people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Leaders in population-based research, this team’s translational research is exploring the causes, outcomes and treatments of IBD

Dr. Charles Bernstein
University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Clinical and Research Centre, led by Dr. Charles Bernstein, focuses on translational research exploring the causes, outcomes and treatments of IBD and the commonalities with other chronic immune diseases.

With a special interest in stress, anxiety, and depression as they relate to quality of life and the course of the disease, the team includes a wide range of health professionals who are committed to improving the life of persons who live with chronic health conditions. We have been leaders in population-based research describing the high incidence rate of IBD in Canada and considering the impact of the disease on everyday life.

Manitoba offers unique opportunities to understand the use of health services across the province for patients who are diagnosed with IBD, including their use of medications. We recently established that problems with depression and anxiety often predate the diagnosis of IBD by years, suggesting that common biologic mechanisms may be involved in these conditions.

Our current research focuses on a wide range of topics including the diet of people with IBD, the impact of other health problems, and the information that people need to manage their own health. There has been great interest recently in the microbiome, the micro-organisms (such as bacteria) in our body, and especially in our gut, that may influence healthy and unhealthy functioning. We hope that a greater understanding of the functioning of the microbiome and the immune system will lead to more effective ways to assess and treat people with inflammatory bowel disease.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


Physiotherapists are “unsung heroes”

Studying exercise to help patients maximize physical function

Dr. Dina Brooks
University of Toronto

Physiotherapists are “unsung heroes”. Our role is to bring patients to their highest level of physical function.

I am a proud to be a physiotherapist. My research focusses on the best way to maximize people’s abilities, using therapeutic exercise as the intervention of choice. I am specifically interested in individuals living with chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease like emphysema, stroke and cardiac disease.

Our group examines the best way to exercise (aerobic, strength, or balance), the best mode of exercise (e.g. cycling, treadmill), intensity (intermittent or continuous) and frequency (1, 2 or 5 times a week) that will maximize function and increase the ability to take part in important and meaningful activities for individuals living with one disease or multiple diseases.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


The pathway to a health research career begins at home

Parental influence on their children’s career choice ensures a bright future for the next generation of health researchers

Ms. Ashley Ross
University of Waterloo

My mother inspired me to dedicate my career to health research. As a child, she instilled in me the importance of both maintaining one’s health and helping others, while my father was a strong advocate for obtaining a background in science and mathematics. This September, I will be starting my PhD at the Ontario Veterinary College within the University of Guelph. We will be using oncolytic viruses paired with photodynamic therapy to find a cure for cancers situated in deep tissue, such as brain and breast cancer. We are trying to improve the health outcomes of patients with difficult to access tumours by activating the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. The body’s immune system is already designed to kill cancer; the goal of my project is to enhance immunogenic cell death so that the tumour can no longer evade the immune system. We will be starting our research in mouse models, with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for human cancers which has minimal side effects.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


From patient to professor: Paying it forward

This former Toronto Sick Kids’ patient is dedicated to broadening his students’ perspectives on their role in reducing health disparities by better understanding the social determinants of health

Dr. Kevin Willison
Lakehead University

I began my formal journey into health care services research after completing a PhD at the Faculty of Public Health Sciences (University of Toronto). As a child, I spent long periods of time at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. It was there that I was introduced to the world of health care. Since then, my keen interest in both the health and social sciences continues, fueled by the experience I gained serving in research administration at Mt. Sinai Hospital (Toronto), teaching post-secondary students at such locations as the Michener Institute of Applied Health Sciences, and more recently, as an Adjunct Professor with Queen’s University and Lakehead University. Although there have been varied struggles, I have nonetheless gained something valuable — an interest to teach and address social determinants of health.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


Improving end-of-life care in Canada

Dr. Isabelle Marcoux
University of Ottawa

If one thing is certain, it’s that sooner or later, we are all going to die. Yet, there is a persistent unease when talking about the end, which can result in a lack of preparation for this important stage of life. What are a person’s wishes in terms of end-of-life care? Do they have access to the care and services to which they are entitled? How will decisions be made and who will make them?

Dr. Isabelle Marcoux, in collaboration with other researchers and national organizations, is currently leading the first Canada-wide investigation into end-of-life medical practices. The study will identify the prevalence of certain medical practices before death (e.g., abstaining from and stopping treatment, relief of pain and other symptoms, palliative sedation and medical assistance in dying) and reveal the underlying decision-making process. A clearer picture of the clinical realities of end-of-life care in Canada will help us identify avenues to improve the care and services offered to end-of-life patients and their loved ones.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


Nurse 2.0: TAVIE™ Traitement, Assistance Virtuelle Infirmière et Enseignement (Treatment, Virtual Nurse Assistance and Teaching)

The next generation of nurses are virtual thanks to the TAVIE™ computer platform

Ms. José Côté
University of Montreal

The roots of the nursing profession are in providing care and support for people who are sick, destitute and stigmatized.

In an age when technological advances make it possible to provide care in real time, we have developed a concept that enables virtual nursing interventions through a computer platform called TAVIE™, which stands for Traitement Assistance Virtuelle Infirmière et Enseignement in French (treatment, virtual nurse assistance and teaching). It consists of web-based interventions that are led by a virtual nurse and offer personalized educational support. The first application we developed was VIH-TAVIE, which helped people living with HIV manage their treatments.

About ten other applications have been designed to help a variety of patients who are living with chronic illnesses deal with their health challenges. TAVIE™ virtual nursing interventions help update care services and complement current health services and clinical monitoring.

Further reading

October 10, 2017


Promising practices, policies and principles that better support aging and care

Meeting the needs of Canada’s diverse populations by studying international models of care work and aging in community and long-term care settings

Dr. Tamara Daly
York University Centre for Aging Research and Education

Aging involves important opportunities and challenges for individuals, families, and our society as a whole. Dr. Tamara Daly’s research explores how to achieve health equity for diverse seniors and their care providers. As an Associate Professor, CIHR Research Chair in Gender, Work and Health, and Director of YU-CARE, Dr. Daly’s projects examine how the social and economic roles of women and men, and their tasks in everyday life, shape experiences of work and care. Leading national and international research teams, Dr. Daly investigates how relationships—and the conditions in which they take place—affect health and care outcomes. Connecting care organizations, community groups and policy partners, her research uncovers outcomes associated with models of care work and aging in community and long-term care settings. Her international studies reveal promising practices, policies and principles from around the world to better support aging and care in ways that meet the needs of Canada’s diverse populations.

Further reading

September 26, 2017


Time flies when you’re making a difference

Three decades of research generating knowledge that has translated into health benefits for Canadians

Dr. Eduardo L. Franco
McGill University

Trying to find if a virus can cause cancer and then producing the evidence base for preventing human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers with vaccines, microbicides, or improved early detection via molecular approaches, has made the last 30 years of my life pass by very quickly. CIHR is partially to blame. It (and its predecessor, the Medical Research Council) has been an essential partner to our cancer epidemiology unit these past three decades. We feel privileged to have received the CIHR funding which enabled us to generate much of the knowledge that is now translated into health benefits for Canadians, such as HPV vaccination and better cervical cancer screening. Whether as a direct funder to our research or via scholarships to the more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that we have had since we began our research pursuits, CIHR has helped us to keep our eye on the prize while training the next generation of Canadian biomedical scientists.

Further reading

September 26, 2017


Uncovering the role of endothelin-1 in atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms

Contributing to our understanding of the biology and effects of anti-hypertensive therapy

Dr. Ernesto L. Schiffrin
Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital and McGill University

As a physician-scientist investigating mechanisms and treatment of hypertension, the number one cause of burden of disease worldwide, I studied vessels biopsied from hypertensive, diabetic and chronic kidney disease patients’ subcutaneous tissue to understand their biology and the effects of anti-hypertensive therapy. Along with my team, we showed that endothelin-1 is involved in experimental hypertension and increases in arteries of severely hypertensive patients. Our mouse that was producing human endothelin-1 in endothelium had a vascular injury, and once it was crossed with apoE knockout mice, proved endothelin-1’s role in atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms.

Now, we generated an inducible human endothelin-1 mouse that exhibits hypertension and kidney injury, leading to use of endothelin antagonists in resistant hypertension. After demonstrating participation of innate immunity and T regulatory lymphocytes in experimental hypertension, we showed the hypertensive role of gamma/delta T lymphocytes, and have as well-investigated microRNAs in the arteries and blood of hypertensive mice and humans, in order to find novel biomarkers and therapies.

Further reading

September 26, 2017


This psychiatric rehabilitation researcher is proud to be part of the solution

Developing better community supports for people who are living with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia

Dr. Abraham (Rami) Rudnick
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

I was first introduced to psychiatric rehabilitation during my psychiatry residency, when I experienced first-hand the need to better support people in the community who were living with serious and other complex mental illness such as schizophrenia.

Psychiatric rehabilitation is a set of recovery-oriented, evidence-informed practices that allows people living with serious and other complex mental illness to acquire and maintain adaptive skills and supports so that they may enjoy success and a higher quality of life in their environment of choice.

Since my residency, I have led and collaborated on psychiatric rehabilitation research.

This includes:

Recently, I have been involved in research and development related to the use of smart technology (hardwired and mobile) for, by and with people who have mental illness, in order to facilitate their independent functioning and connectivity with formal and informal caregivers.

More psychiatric rehabilitation research is needed and I hope to continue to be part of that for a long time.

Further reading

September 26, 2017


Thinking outside of the box: Reimagining long-term residential care

Fresh eyes and a new perspective: Shifting the focus to what works and seeking out promising practices in long-term residential care that work

Dr. Pat Armstrong
York University

Frustrated by the bad press and the lack of attention directed toward ways of making life worth living in nursing homes, 25 researchers and 60 students set about reimaging long-term residential care.

Our interdisciplinary team includes an economist and an architect, a cultural theorist and a gerontologist, an epidemiologist, a philosopher, a political scientist, historians, social workers, sociologists, and health policy folks, as well as four physicians, two nurses and students from many other disciplines.

Some had worked in this field for a long time, while others brought with them fresh eyes. In teams of twelve we studied 27 homes in six different countries. In our constant, collective reflections on what we saw and what we heard from our observations and interviews, we learned how much we had been trained to look for what does not work rather than for promising practices. But now, we have produced a host of literature identifying ideas to reimagine care that are worth sharing.

Pat Armstrong, PI, “Reimagining Long-Term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices”, funded by SSHRC and “Healthy Aging in Residential Places”, funded in Canada by CIHR.

Further reading

September 26, 2017


Talking about sexual health and well-being

Dr. Natalie Rosen
Dalhousie University

A mutually satisfying sexual relationship profoundly shapes life satisfaction, health, and well-being. Yet, over 50% of individuals report being dissatisfied with their sex life. Our aim at the Couples and Sexual Health Laboratory is to enhance understanding of how couples cope with sexual problems such as pain during sex and declines in sexual interest after having a baby. Through our nationally funded studies, we have identified several aspects of how couples interact with each other—such as their patterns of communication and motivations for having sex—that affect not only their sexual functioning, but also their psychological and relationship well-being. Together with collaborators at the University of Montreal, we developed the first empirically-based psychological treatment for couples in which the woman experiences pain during sex, and have plans to translate our findings from other sexual problems into similar interventions that can be shared widely to promote the sexual well-being of Canadians and beyond. 

September 26, 2017


Mapping and understanding the genome of breast cancer

Dr. Samah El Ghamrasni
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (Toronto)

The human genome consists of coding regions, or sequences coding for specific proteins as well as non-coding regions. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Trevor Pugh, I am studying the effect of alterations within non-coding regions of the genome that can affect gene expression. Breast cancer is considered the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian women. Several studies have yielded thousands of mutations in breast cancer; however, the functional relevance of mutations outside protein coding regions remains unknown. Therefore, there is a need to identify additional drivers of cancer development. I am currently mapping the non-coding regions of breast tumours and analyzing mutations within these regions that can affect the gene expression program. The identification of such mutations will allow a better understanding of the molecular mechanism behind the development and the progression of breast cancer leading to better therapeutic strategies for cancer patients.

September 26, 2017


A safe way to test if a child is allergic to antibiotics

Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan
Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University Health Centre

Up to 10% of children develop rashes while on antibiotics. The majority of these children are labelled as “allergic to penicillins” (or implicated drug) without further evaluation. The LAACTAM study (β-LActam and other Antibiotics allergy in Children: Tests, assessment and Management) was designed to assess the prevalence of antibiotic allergies among children referred to the allergy clinic at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Our work demonstrates that in this population history and currently standardized skin tests are less useful in predicting amoxicillin allergy. We exemplify that a supervised gradual administration of amoxicillin (oral challenge) is a useful and safe way to assess these children. Findings from this study have been published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2016 and this publication was named one of the top 10 most important articles in pediatrics by the New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch.

September 26, 2017


Helping frontline health workers assess a patient’s vulnerabilities

Dr. Anne Andermann
McGill University

After completing medical training in family medicine and public health, I worked on research capacity strengthening at the World Health Organization in Geneva where I was a main contributing author of the World Health Report 2008 on increasing universal access to primary health care. Upon returning to Canada, I founded a research collaboration that aims to help frontline health workers address the underlying social causes of poor health through a combination of direct patient care, referral and advocacy for larger social change. Our research has identified concrete actions that frontline health workers can use to tackle social determinants in clinical practice. Our research has also shown that health workers who know how to ask about social challenges are more likely to report having helped their patients address these complex issues. The CLEAR toolkit is a clinical decision aid available free online in over a dozen languages.

September 26, 2017


Taking pleasure in mentoring the next generation of health research leaders

Dr. David Rosenblatt (principal investigator)
Ms. Camilah Maria Arbabian (undergraduate student)
Dr. David Watkins (research associate)
Ms. Lina Sobhi Abdrabo (graduate student)
McGill University

Exposure to brilliant professors at McGill University taught me how studying patients with rare genetic diseases can lead both to scientific discovery and to knowledge that can help in diagnosis and treatment. Over a career of more than forty years, my students and I have shown how vitamin B12 is handled by human cells and how blockages in the metabolic pathway cause genetic disease. As a result of this, Canada is recognized as a leader in this area of research; there are only two reference laboratories in the world for these illnesses-one in Zurich, Switzerland and one in Montreal. One of the pleasures of doing research in an academic setting is the exposure to the best and brightest students who have gone on to careers in science and medicine. To be able to provide mentorship and knowledge to the next generation of leaders rivals discovery in importance to Canada.

September 26, 2017


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