Early Career Researchers Win Awards

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Three UHN scientists receive provincial funding to build their research teams.
The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade awarded three UHN researchers with Early Researcher Awards. The highly competitive program provides funding for new researchers to build their research teams.
 
The three recipients (pictured, left to right) are as follows:
 
● Dr. Alison Novak, KITE Scientist, will focus on using biomechanical approaches to understand how individuals interact with the built environment—such as stairs, handrails and ramps—during normal activities and in response to slips or missteps. Dr. Novak’s work will provide critical knowledge to inform the development of building codes and standards, particularly as they relate to reducing the risk of falls. This work will lead to safer buildings in Ontario.
 
● Dr. Karen Okrainec, TGHRI Affiliate Scientist, will evaluate a unique tool to support patients during the stressful transition home from the hospital. Poor transitions can lead to hospital readmissions or visits to the emergency room. The tool, which was co-developed by Dr. Okrainec, her team and patients, is designed to optimize patient engagement, communication and retention of information after discharge from the hospital—with the ultimate goal of reducing health care utilization costs and improving health outcomes.
 
● Dr. Zahi Touma, Krembil Clinician Investigator, will apply advanced statistical approaches and machine learning to develop screening and diagnostic tests for cognitive impairment in systemic lupus erythematosus—a chronic autoimmune disease. The aim of the project is to replace existing cognitive tests for lupus, which are not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and are time-consuming for patients to take.
 
Each awardee will receive $100,000 from the Ministry and $50,000 from the researcher’s partner organization.
 
Congratulations to Drs. Novak, Okrainec and Touma!