Congratulations to the following six UHN scientists, who received new or renewed funding from the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program.
Dr. Jennifer Campos, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Multisensory Integration and Aging (new). Dr. Campos is a Scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute’s KITE. Her research examines how sensory information is integrated in the brain and how this changes with age. Her research program will investigate the effect of hearing loss on mobility, the increased risk of developing dementia in those with sensory loss, and the therapeutic potential of new rehabilitation programs.
Dr. Mohit Kapoor, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in the Mechanisms of Joint Degeneration (new). Dr. Kapoor is a Senior Scientist at Krembil Research Institute (Krembil), where he studies osteoarthritis, a progressive joint disease that can lead to significant pain and disability. His team aims to identify new therapeutic strategies to counteract this disabling disease.
Dr. Tony Lam, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Diabetes and Obesity (advancement). Dr. Lam is a Senior Scientist at the Toronto General Research Institute (TGHRI). His research program is focused on uncovering the proteins and pathways that regulate glucose and lipid levels. These findings are providing key insights into diabetes and obesity.
Dr. Beate Sander, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Economics of Infectious Diseases (new). Dr. Sander is a Scientist at TGHRI, where she examines the economic and social impact of infectious diseases. Her research group has evaluated Zika and West Nile virus intervention strategies using data-driven simulation models and estimated the burden of infectious diseases using population data.
Dr. Valerie Wallace, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Retina Regeneration (new). Dr. Wallace is a Senior Scientist at Krembil. Her team studies the genes that affect the growth and development of cells in the eye. Because brain cells are influenced by the same genes studied by Dr. Wallace’s team, her research is also improving our understanding of brain cell development.
Dr. Gang Zheng, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cancer Nanomedicine (advancement). Dr. Zheng is a Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and a Core Lead at Techna. The main focus of Dr. Zheng’s research program is to develop new tools, including nanoparticles and imaging agents, to treat and visualize cancer.
The nationwide CRC program invested a total of $275 million for 346 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs across Canada. These Chairs serve to attract and retain Canada’s most accomplished and promising researchers. Chairholders demonstrate research excellence, provide key insights, improve the quality of life for Canadians, strengthen competitiveness and help train the next generation of researchers.
Dr. Sonya MacParland, Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, received the prestigious Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The award was presented to Dr. MacParland for her project, titled “The Immunological Impact of Direct Acting Antiviral Treatment for Early HCV Infection”, which was ranked in the top three of all applications submitted to the CIHR 2018 Project Grant competition within the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity. To learn more about Dr. MacParland’s research project, click here.
The award was created to honour Dr. Bhagirath Singh, inaugural Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity. It also acknowledges new researchers—ie, those who received their academic appointment within the past 5 years—by providing additional research funding.
Congratulations Dr. MacParland!
When the heart stops beating, it almost immediately begins to die. With no fresh blood to deliver the oxygen that heart cells need to survive, it is only a matter of minutes before organ damage becomes irreversible.
For this reason, most successful heart transplants are performed with hearts that are kept beating with a ventilator machine after the death of their donors.
Dr. Mitesh Badiwala, Surgical Director of Heart Transplantation at University Health Network, has demonstrated in experimental models that when properly preserved, hearts that have stopped beating can be successfully transplanted. This success may enable more donated hearts that can be transplanted and improve the chance for those with advanced heart failure to receive a new heart.
Currently, portable ventilators are used to keep donated hearts beating during transportation to the recipients. This limits the number of hearts that can be transplanted and prevents many hospitals from performing more transplant surgeries.
Dr. Badiwala and his colleagues investigated cold storage as an alternative solution to preserve the heart prior to transplantation. They demonstrated in experimental models that the heart can tolerate over two hours of storage at room temperature or lower—and still be transplanted successfully.
“Heart donors are few, while those in need of a new heart are many. By preserving the heart at lower temperatures and in specially designed fluids that reduce further damage, we can transport the heart to the recipient without the use of a portable ventilator,” explains Dr. Badiwala.
Further testing is required to establish the safety of this strategy. If successful, this strategy has the potential to increase the pool of available organs and reduce the cost of heart transplant surgeries.
This work was supported by the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.
Ribeiro RVP, Alvarez JS, Yu F, Paradiso E, Adamson MB, Maria Ruggeri G, Fukunaga N, Bissoondath V, Serrick C, Meineri M, Ross H, Rao V, Badiwala MV. Hearts Donated After Circulatory Death and Reconditioned Using Normothermic Regional Perfusion Can Be Successfully Transplanted Following an Extended Period of Static Storage. Circ Heart Fail. 2019 Apr. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.118.005364.
Drs. Shaf Keshavjee and Marcelo Cypel, researchers in the Latner Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratories in the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, have received the 2018 Inventor of the Year Award for their pioneering work in developing the Toronto Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP) system.
EVLP enables the safe pre-transplant assessment and treatment of donor lungs, enabling clinicians to select and improve the clinical acceptability of organs for transplantation. The technique involves perfusing a special fluid through cold preserved donor lungs to rewarm the organ while ventilating it with oxygen outside of the body. This results in recovery and successful transplantation of 70 per cent of lungs that would otherwise be classified as marginally acceptable.
As a result of their invention, UHN has doubled the number of lung transplants performed each year. EVLP has been used clinically to assess more than 550 donor lungs in Toronto and many more internationally as this technique has been adopted worldwide. Combined, this invention has saved the lives of many patients with end stage lung diseases.
Ultimately, EVLP expands the pool of available donor organs and enhances the success of transplantation. By addressing the global shortage of donor lungs, EVLP has the potential to reduce—if not completely eliminate—lung transplant wait times.
“We’re proud to be the home for this ground-breaking innovation in lung transplantation,” says Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President, Science and Research at UHN. “The work of Drs. Keshavjee and Cypel from the Latner Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratories at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, and that of the entire transplant research program at UHN is truly one of a kind. This breakthrough would not have been possible without critical support from our sponsors, our donors, the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation and industry partners. Their continued support has also helped the team to make tremendous strides with EVLP—including expanding this technology for use in other organs such as the kidney, liver and heart—and this award recognizes their excellence in transplantation research.”
The Inventor of the Year Award is presented each year by UHN’s Technology Development and Commercialization Office. The award celebrates a UHN inventor or team that has demonstrated excellence in translating their findings into new technologies, services and products that improve health. The award was presented to Drs. Keshavjee and Cypel at the UHN Report to Our Community in June 2019.
Congratulations to Drs. Keshavjee and Cypel.
Establishing radiotherapy programs to treat cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries could save 9.4 million lives and create $151 billion in economic benefits by 2035.
Those are the findings of a study recently published in Lancet Oncology by Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s Dr. Danielle Rodin and Dr. Michael Milosevic.
Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 100 types of HPV, of which more than 40 can cause cervical cancer. Persistent HPV infections can sometimes develop into cervical cancer if not treated.
The study modelled the long-term demand, benefit and cost of implementing a 20-year strategy for radiotherapy to treat cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries, alongside a simultaneous HPV vaccination program.
The study also modelled the effect of HPV vaccination, which would result in a 3.9% reduction in cervical cancer incidence over the study period—assuming a best case scenario of vaccinating every 12-year-old girl in the world starting in 2014. By 2072, when the first vaccinated cohort reaches 70 years of age, there would be a 22.9% reduction in cervical cancer incidence, still leaving 41.6 million in need for radiotherapy over that time period.
“Vaccination is hugely important, but we can’t neglect the millions of women who are contracting cervical cancer and dying in pain without access to treatment,” says Dr. Danielle Rodin, a Clinician Investigator and Radiation Oncologist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. “These are women who have curable cancers – even advanced cervical cancer can be cured with radiotherapy. The possibility exists to make this treatment universally available.”
Click here to watch a video of Dr. Danielle Rodin discussing her findings.
Rodin D, Burger EA, Atun R, Barton M, Gospodarowicz M, Grover S, Hanna TP, Jaffray DA,
Knaul FM, Lievens Y, Zubizarreta E, Milosevic M. Scale-up of radiotherapy for cervical cancer in the era of human papillomavirus vaccination in low-income and middle-income countries: a model-based analysis of need and economic impact. Lancet Oncol. May 28, 2019. doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(19)30308-0.
Supported by the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology, The Commonwealth Fund and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.
The UHN Office of Research Trainees (ORT) is proud to announce the release of the latest issue of The ORT Times!
The ORT Times is UHN's monthly trainee-focused newsletter. It highlights news and editorials about trainee life, articles to help developing researchers get the most out of their training experience at UHN, tips on career development, and research training opportunities within and outside of UHN.
● Authorship In Academia: Who Gets It?
● Making the Most of 3 Minutes
● Embrace Writing
● Motherhood During Research Training
● The ORT is Here for You!
● March 2019 ORT Travel Award Winners
Conference Reports: Read conference reports from Eliyas Jeffay and Matheus J Wiest.
Read and download the full issue now!
To see past issues of The ORT Times, please visit ORT’s website.