Dr. Dafna Gladman received the Distinguished Clinical Investigator Award from the American College of Rheumatology. This award is given on an annual basis to a clinical scientist who has made outstanding contributions to rheumatology, a branch of medicine devoted to arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and ligaments.
Dr. Gladman is a world-renowned Rheumatologist and a Senior Scientist at the Krembil Research Institute. Her research program focuses on the prognosis, genetics and treatment of rheumatic diseases, especially psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Over her 40-year career, her work has produced over 740 publications which have appeared in prestigious medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The American College of Rheumatology is a global medical society committed to improving care for the rheumatic diseases. It comprises 9,600 physicians, health professionals and scientists.
Congratulations Dr. Gladman!
University Health Network (UHN) is once again ranked first on the 2018 Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals list. The list of top research hospitals across Canada is compiled annually by RE$EARCH Infosource Inc. UHN has appeared in the top position of the list every year since its inception in 2011.
UHN’s research expenditures for the 2017 fiscal year were $350.1 million, representing 17.3% of its total hospital expenditures and an increase of 5.4% over the previous year. The Hospital for Sick Children and Hamilton Health Sciences round out the top three, with research expenditures of $209.6 and $206.95 million, respectively.
“UHN is proud to have been at the top of the list since 2011. This ranking demonstrates the value of research at UHN, in Toronto and across Canada. It is also a testament of the sustained dedication to improving and innovating health care held by UHN and its three sister foundations—the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and the Toronto Rehab Foundation,” says Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President, Science and Research at UHN.
In terms of research intensity, which measures the amount of research spending per appointed researcher, UHN placed second in the “Large Hospitals” category—climbing two spots from last year’s ranking. The top Canadian research hospital in this ranking was London Health Sciences Centre/St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre.
To view the complete list of Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals, click here.
RE$EARCH Infosource Inc. is a leading research, consulting and publishing firm that specializes in the areas of policy, research, business intelligence and analysis on science, technology, innovation and the Canadian R&D ecosystem. The firm also publishes an annual ranking of Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities; UHN’s affiliated university, the University of Toronto, is ranked first on this list.
A map of the cells in the human liver has been created, revealing the most comprehsive inventory of the different cells present in the liver and the differences between individual cells at the molecular level.
“For the past 20 years, we have studied the liver as a soup of cells as opposed to its individual components. This makes it difficult to target individual cells that are driving liver disease,” says Dr. Sonya MacParland, a Scientist at UHN’s Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (TGHRI), and lead author of the study published in Nature Communications.
To address this issue, Dr. MacParland and her research team used state-of-the-art genetic approaches and software engineering to map out the cellular landscape of 8,444 individual cells obtained from the tissues of healthy deceased donor human livers.
The project involved over 30 multidisciplinary experts, including transplant surgeons, immunologists, hepatologists, computer scientists and genomics researchers such as TGHRI Senior Scientist Dr. Ian McGilvray and Dr. Gary Bader, Professor at the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.
By examining the gene expression profiles of each of the cells—about 1,500 active genes per cell—the research team found 20 distinct cell populations, including hepatocytes, endothelial cells, cholangiocytes and various immune cells such as B cells, T cells and natural killer cells.
They also discovered two new distinct populations of macrophages, known as tissue-resident macrophages. Commenting on this finding, Dr. McGilvray says. “Until this study, very little was known about the liver macrophage—the ‘tank’ of the immune system that destroys foreign substances and co-ordinates the immune response. We found that there are two distinct populations of macrophages in the human liver, one which is pro-inflammatory and the other anti-inflammatory.” This new understanding may help scientists identify new strategies to reduce organ rejection in liver transplant recipients or reduce the need for immunosuppressive medications.
While it provides a detailed picture of the cells in a healthy human liver, as the map is refined, future studies will compare these cells to those in a diseased liver, providing further insight into health and disease.
This work was supported by the University of Toronto’s Medicine by Design initiative which receives funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, UHN’s Transplant Program, and the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation. G Keller holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Embryonic Stem Cell Biology; JE Fish holds a Tier 2 CRC in Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology; and MD Wilson holds a Tier 2 CRC in Comparative Genomics. The findings from this study will be made available to the Human Cell Atlas Project, an international, open-access, collaborative effort to map all human cells (www.humancellatlas.org).
MacParland SA, Liu JC, Ma XZ, Innes BT, Bartczak AM, Gage BK, Manuel J, Khuu N, Echeverri J, Linares I, Gupta R, Cheng ML, Liu LY, Camat D, Chung SW, Seliga RK, Shao Z, Lee E, Ogawa S, Ogawa M, Wilson MD, Fish JE, Selzner M, Ghanekar A, Grant D, Greig P, Sapisochin G, Selzner N, Winegarden N, Adeyi O, Keller G, Bader GD, McGilvray ID. Single cell RNA sequencing of human liver reveals distinct intrahepatic macrophage populations. Nat Commun. 2018 Oct 22;9(1):4383. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06318-7.
Welcome to the latest issue of Research Spotlight (formerly known as NRx).
This newsletter highlights top research advancements across UHN and from over 450 researchers appointed at five research institutes. As Canada’s largest research hospital, UHN is a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care.
Stories in this month’s issue:
● NEXT-LEVEL LEUKEMIA MONITORING: Use of next-generation sequencing to monitor mutations can reveal risk of relapse.
● MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER: Genetic tests on the market may not always be effective and could cause needless anxiety.
● BOOSTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: Study reveals that insulin is important for the immune system’s ability to fight infection.
● INNOVATION IN THE LAB: New device could pave the way for growing more realistic human tissues and organs in the lab.
A team of researchers from University Health Network has developed an innovative strategy that could help to restore breathing following spinal cord injury (SCI).
Dysfunctional breathing is a major cause of death or disease after SCI. To help them breathe, many SCI patients require an assistive ventilation device or a tracheotomy, a surgical procedure that creates a hole through the front of the neck and into the windpipe. Moreover, 80% of deaths among SCI patients are caused by respiratory complications.
To better understand the mechanisms underpinning breathing difficulties in SCI, the researchers examined a variety of experimental models of the condition. Their findings identified a distinct population of cells in the spinal cord that—when stimulated—promoted recovery of breathing following injury. The research team also showed that these cells are not essential for normal breathing, but appear to be recruited in SCI.
“The biggest implication of this work is that one day we may be able to flip a switch and improve the breathing of people living with these injuries,” says the leader of the team, Dr. Michael Fehlings, a Senior Scientist at Krembil Research Institute.
Next, the team plans to leverage advances in regenerative medicine to translate their discovery into a therapy for SCI patients. Such a therapy could also potentially benefit individuals with other neurological diseases that cause breathing problems, including those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
This work was supported by the Krembil Foundation, the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, AOSpine North America, the Onassis Foundation and the Dezwirek Foundation.
Satkunendrarajah K, Karadimas SK, Laliberte AM, Montandon G, Fehlings MG. Cervical excitatory neurons sustain breathing after spinal cord injury. Nature. 2018 Oct 10. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0595-z.