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.
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One in five Canadian adults is currently living with arthritis, a disease-causing inflammation of the joints, which can result in chronic, debilitating pain, reduced mobility and premature disability. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability globally.
To address this growing crisis, the Schroeder Arthritis Institute, launched with a $25 million donation by philanthropists Walter and Maria Schroeder, will help UHN’s innovative arthritis program become a world-class hub for innovation in research, education and patient care.
Krembil Senior Scientists Dr. Robert Inman and Dr. Mohit Kapoor serve as Co-Directors of the Institute. Dr. Inman is a leader in field of ankylosing spondylitis and Dr. Kapoor’s research program is focused on advancing our understanding of osteoarthritis.
“Maria and I have put a great deal of thought into making this gift and ultimately we were persuaded by the vision and leadership of Dr. Kapoor and the arthritis team at UHN,” says Mr. Schroeder. “We want to be part of an effort that will finally put an end to unnecessary pain and suffering from arthritis and related conditions.”
Funds will go toward supporting top scientific talent and providing critical salary and infrastructure resources for the entire research team, which includes 51 scientists and clinician-scientists, 113 trainees, and 200 staff.
The Institute will encompass research, education and innovations in clinical activities within four clinical programs: Hand, Orthopedics, Osteoporosis and Rheumatology, with the core goal of pushing the boundaries of discovery, learning and patient care.
Building on the momentum of the arthritis team’s progress in recent years, including innovations in surgical approaches for bone and joint diseases, new diagnostics and treatments In Ankylosing Spondylitis, Lupus, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Scleroderma and Sjogren’s Syndrome, as well as the development of predictive tools for orthopaedic surgery outcomes, this donation will enable the arthritis team to make a global impact through early diagnosis, innovative treatments and prevention.
“Our unique approach, creating alignment and synergy between our research and clinical teams, can only serve to help translate discoveries faster, and benefit patients sooner,” says Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive VP, Science & Research, at UHN. “This gift will help solidify UHN’s status as the largest research hospital in Canada and as a leader in arthritis research and clinical care, globally.”
To read more, click here.
A new cancer biotechnology company, TCRyption Inc., has been launched based on innovative findings from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM).
TCRyption Inc. emerges from the groundbreaking T-cell immunotherapy technologies created by PM Senior Scientist Dr. Naoto Hirano. The company was founded by Dr. Hirano along with pioneers of the T-cell and cancer fields, Drs. Tak Mak and Mark Davis.
The technology developed by Dr. Hirano belongs to a branch of cancer immunotherapy known as a T-cell receptor (TCR)-based adoptive cellular therapy which helps to stimulate the body’s own immune response to destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this therapy is dependent on the HLA type of the patient (ie, the presence of certain immune molecules, of which there are many types that vary between patients). Due to this constraint, current therapies are generally effective for only a small patient group.
Dr. Hirano has overcome this problem through the development of a methodology that can generate an effective personalized therapeutic regimen for any patient’s HLA type regardless of its frequency—an innovation that will greatly expand treatment options and the groups of patients that can benefit from them.
"We are very pleased to announce the launch of TCRyption today; such innovative biotech partners embrace the power of immunity to fight cancer but also recognize that many current TCR-based applications will benefit only some patients. Our methodology at TCRyption allows us to bolster precision medicine for all patients and is an important part of helping us move forward together in our common goal to conquer cancer,” says Dr. Naoto Hirano.
With early support from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Innovation Acceleration Fund for developing the technology, company creation activities were led by UHN’s Technology Development & Commercialization team (TDC) and TIO Bioventures with an initial $10 million in seed financing to advance the innovation so that it can help patients.
“We are thrilled to have TCRyption launched with the core facilities located right here in Toronto with some of the biggest names and pioneers in cancer immunology as part of the team,” says Mark Taylor, Director of UHN’s TDC.
UHN has a rich history of research firsts that have revolutionized medicine and health care. Last month, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre scientists Drs. M. Vera Peters, James Till and Ernest McCulloch were among six Canadian physicians and researchers recognized with Canada Post’s stamp issue titled Medical Groundbreakers.
The stamp issue, which also commemorates Drs. Bruce Chown, Julio Montaner and Balfour Mount, was proposed to Canada Post by UHN’s Dr. Jean Wang, a Clinician Scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and a member of the Canada Post Stamp Advisory Committee.
“All of these physicians and researchers changed the face of health care in Canada and globally,” says Dr. Wang. “Along with the beautiful stamp designs, we want to share with Canadians the stories behind these remarkable individuals and their achievements.”
As one of only ten women in her medical school graduating class of 1934, Dr. M Vera Peters persisted through barriers and criticism to revolutionize cancer treatment. Dr. Peters discovered that radiation could cure Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer previously thought to be incurable, and later observed that radiation in conjunction with breast-conserving lumpectomies was effective for treating early-stage breast cancer, sparing many women from radical mastectomies.
In a landmark study looking at the effects of radiation on bone marrow, Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch identified blood-forming stem cells—a discovery that laid the foundation for stem cell science and explained the basis of bone marrow transplants for treating blood cancers. Stem cell research has paved the way for regenerative medicine and the development of potential stem cell-based treatments for diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson disease.
Dr. Wang reflects, “There could not be a better time to share these stories with Canadians. Through these stamps we salute all health care professionals who devote their lives and their work to our well-being.”
With the global COVID-19 crisis, we have seen a surge of misinformation and baseless claims falsely associated with many leading health-care institutions worldwide. Unfortunately, external users have been receiving phishing emails claiming to be from the UHN Research domain. These emails do not originate from UHN Research or any affiliated parties.
To raise awareness about this issue, and to coincide with Cyber Security Awareness Month, research at UHN has launched a phishing education webpage for external users.
Visit the site by clicking on the following link: Protect Yourself from Spam & Phishing
Note that the spam and phishing awareness web page is relevant for individuals who do not work at UHN and appear to be receiving spam from uhnresearch.ca. If UHN patients, volunteers or collaborators are receiving spam emails, they are encouraged to contact UHN Digital through internal routes.
We are actively working to better understand how our domain names are being misused and to secure our domain name so we can halt these emails at their source. UHN Digital is working to centralize our outbound mail channels and publish domain reputation information that will allow internet service providers to differentiate legitimate emails from spam emails.
As a not-for-profit public hospital, UHN never sends unsolicited emails or advertises products or services to patients or the general public. By providing users with tools to help spot phishing emails, we hope to empower users to safeguard their personal information from fraudsters.
We are one step closer to the future of cancer care with the launch of the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network (MOHCCN). The initiative is being led by the Terry Fox Research Institute and three leading cancer research centres: the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, British Columbia Cancer and the Montreal Cancer Consortium.
“This one-of-a-kind network will unite Canada’s top cancer research centres, allowing them to share their clinical and observational data in order to accelerate discovery and innovation in precision medicine,” says founding council member and UHN’s Executive Vice President (EVP) of Science and Research, Dr. Brad Wouters. “Today represents the beginning with three of these centres and we are excited about the vision for an inclusive cross-Canada network.“
Precision medicine’s tailored approach to care allows physicians to better predict which treatments and prevention strategies will be successful for each individual patient. By centralizing data from three research institutes, MOHCCN aims to create a high quality and shareable dataset of 15,000 cases in the first five years and 100,000 cases within the decade.
The network’s scientists will initially focus on four key themes: immunotherapy and precision cancer medicine treatment, the use of genomic data in clinical decision making, the impact of tumour dynamics on treatment resistance, and the clinical and treatment courses for rare cancer subtypes.
The Terry Fox Research Institute developed a secure platform called The Digital Health and Discovery Platform (DHDP) that will centralize patient data from all participating research centres. Operating with the utmost privacy and security, the DHDP is based on a federated data sharing model, which means data from each centre will be stored on local networks and only shared if requested by a MOHCCN scientist.
“This is a powerful collaborative network that utilizes the joint expertise of clinicians, pathologists, data and laboratory scientists as well as software developers,” says Dr. Wouters. “We are working with key partners at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the other Cancer Centres to establish the network and work towards collaborative approaches to reduce the burden of cancer on Canadians.”
For more information about the MOHCCN, please contact MOHCCN Project Manager Sevan Hakgor at firstname.lastname@example.org. To watch a video from the Terry Fox Research Institute on how precision medicine is transforming cancer care, click here.
Welcome to the latest issue of The Krembil.
The Krembil is the official newsletter of the Krembil Research Institute (formerly the Toronto Western Research Institute). Research at Krembil is focused on finding innovative treatments and cures for chronic debilitating disorders, including arthritis and diseases of the brain and eyes.
Stories in this month’s issue include:
• Virtual Krembil Research Day 2020: Krembil trainees are encouraged to persevere as scientists are needed now more than ever.
• Coming Together for Dementia: Popular Krembil virtual event explored the future of dementia research and care.
• Neurophysiologist Joins Krembil: Dr. Luka Milosevic, biomedical engineer and neurophysiologist, returns to UHN.
• More than Face Value: Machine learning enables in-depth mapping of abnormalities caused by trigeminal neuralgia.
• Losing Sleep after Critical Illness: Study links sleep problems after release from intensive care unit with cognitive decline.
• A Promising Candidate: Early data suggest that furosemide may reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection.
• A Matter of Perception: Disagreement found between self-reported and performance-based measures of physical function.
Research conducted at UHN's research institutes spans the full spectrum of diseases and disciplines, including cancer, cardiovascular sciences, transplantation, neural and sensory sciences, musculoskeletal health, rehabilitation sciences, and community and population health.
Learn more about our institutes by clicking below: