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// December 17, 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, we at MSFHR are pleased to reflect on an exciting and productive year.

Over the past 12 months, we have made great progress working with our partners and other stakeholders to strengthen BC’s capacity for world-class health research.

To illustrate our progress across a broad range of activities, we have prepared an interactive timeline of 2014 milestones.

Hover over the nodes below to reveal a summary of each month's highlights.

 

 


// December 16, 2014
Dr. Aubrey J. Tingle, MSFHR's founding president and CEO

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) is pleased to open nominations for the sixth annual Aubrey J. Tingle Prize and Lecture.

This prize is given to a British Columbia clinician scientist or scholar practitioner whose work in health research is internationally recognized and has significant impact on advancing clinical or health services and policy research — as well as its uptake — to improve health and the health system in BC and globally.

MSFHR is proud to present the 2015 Aubrey J. Tingle Prize in partnership with LifeSciences BC for the first time in the award's history. The prize will be presented April 16, 2015, as part of the 17th annual LifeSciences BC Awards.

The deadline for nominations is Saturday, January 31, 2015.

> Nomination instructions and eligibility criteria

Review and selection of the candidates will be made by a volunteer panel comprised of researchers with expertise in practice-relevant health and health system research. The panel’s recommendation will be  forwarded to MSFHR’s Board of Directors for ratification.

The Aubrey J. Tingle Prize was created to honour the important role that Dr. Tingle played as founding president & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research from 2001 to his retirement in June 2008. A pediatrician and immunologist, Dr. Tingle has maintained a lifelong interest in the role of viruses in disease, with particular interest in rubella arthritis and juvenile diabetes.

Past winners include Dr. Julio Montaner (2010), Dr. Michael Hayden (2011), Dr. Bruce McManus (2012), Dr. Martin Gleave (2013), and Dr. Samuel Aparicio (2014).

For more information or to nominate a candidate, please refer to the competition page.


// December 4, 2014

A research team from UBC’s Centre for Health Services and Policy Research has been selected to evaluate the impact of the BC Ministry of Health’s Accelerated Integrated Primary and Community Care (aIPCC) initiatives.

The researchers, led by Dr. Kim McGrail, will use Ministry of Health data to identify patterns of health services use, such as emergency department visits, acute care admissions, and long-term residential care admissions. Their study will determine how these patterns have changed as a result of aIPCC initiatives, which are being implemented across the province to support the Ministry’s goal of providing as many health services as possible in the community.

McGrail and her team were selected to undertake this project through a Request for Applications issued by MSFHR in August. The multi-disciplinary team includes experts in health economics, nursing, primary care, and home and community care.

The study’s methodology and analyses will be developed in collaboration with an advisory committee that includes representatives of each regional health authority and the Ministry of Health. A rigorous observational study design will estimate changes in the use of health care services that can be attributed to integrated primary and community care interventions. This quantitative analysis may also inform future research, such as a qualitative study to understand why different programs have different effects.

MSFHR is funding the 10-month study through a $100,000 grant. A final report will be submitted to MSFHR and the BC Ministry of Health in fall 2015.


// December 3, 2014

MSFHR-supported research underpins a key policy document for controlling cervical cancer issued today by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new WHO guidelines recommend vaccinating 9- to 13-year-old girls with two doses of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, instead of the standard three-dose regimen. Two doses have been found to be just as effective as three at conferring immunity to HPV infection, based on a growing body of research evidence that includes MSFHR-funded studies by researchers at the Child & Family Research Institute and the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Compared to the three-dose regimen, a two-dose HPV vaccine is less costly and easier to administer, offering significant advantages in developing countries where resources are most scarce and the need is greatest.

Despite being easily preventable, cervical cancer kills more than 270,000 women annually, 85 per cent of whom are in developing countries. HPV infections cause nearly all cases of cervical cancer, which is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide.

A new study by the MSFHR-funded research team seeks to determine if a two-dose vaccine provides equivalent long-term protection over a 10-year period. The researchers are in the process of recruiting more than 8,600 teenage girls from across Canada to take part in the study.

Read more:


// December 1, 2014
2011 MSFHR Scholar Dr. Sohrab Shah co-led the new BC Cancer Agency study, published this week in Nature

A new study led by BC Cancer Agency scientists Dr. Samuel Aparicio and Dr. Sohrab Shah represents a significant advance in our understanding of how complex cancers, such as breast cancer, evolve over time.

The study, published this week in the journal Nature, uses genomic sequencing in combination with a new computational model called PyClone to track which cells and mutations dominate as a cancer evolves.

PyClone was developed by Shah, whose work is supported by a 2011 MSFHR Scholar Award. Aparicio is the recently named winner of the 2014 Aubrey J. Tingle Prize.

The research will help inform better, more target treatment approaches by proving that cancers evolve and change over time and in response to drug therapies. Until now, the evolution of a patient’s cancer has been largely overlooked from a treatment perspective without a way to accurately analyze and measure the changing cell populations.

“We now have the ability to determine which individual cancer cells are the ‘resilient’ ones, which, if left untreated, will have the most impact on patient survival,” said Shah in a news release.

In addition to Shah and Aparicio, several other individuals with current or past connections to MSFHR contributed to this research:


// November 26, 2014

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) is pleased to launch the 2015 Research Trainee Program competition for post-doctoral fellowship awards.

This funding competition is open to applicants who are eligible to hold a post-doctoral fellow position at a BC-based host institution for the duration of the Research Trainee – Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award. Host institutions must have a signed memorandum of understanding with MSFHR.

At the time of application, applicants must commit at least 75 percent time to research training; this commitment does not include holding a full-time paid research position. Health professionals with active clinical service must commit at least 50 percent time to research training.

Competition guidelines are now available on the MSFHR website.

Note: The MSFHR ApplyNet system will open in early February 2015 to accept applications to this competition. Full application instructions and evaluation criteria will be posted at this time.

Letters of intent must be submitted by March 17, 2015. The deadline for receipt of full applications is April 20, 2015.

> Learn more: 2015 MSFHR Trainee Awards

“Our program review, currently underway, has validated the importance of MSFHR trainee awards as one of the cornerstones of building British Columbia’s capacity for world-class research,” said Bev Holmes, MSFHR vice-president, research & impact. “And for this trainee competition, as with our last scholar competition, we have amended the guidelines to also support applications from health professionals.”

MSFHR Trainee awards provide up to three years of salary support to help highly qualified post-doctoral fellows develop their skills. By supporting the training of young investigators, BC is well positioned to retain them as future health research leaders.  Since 2001, MSFHR has more than 1,200 trainee awards worth nearly $39 million.

As in previous years, MSFHR is working with partner organizations to jointly fund some awards. Confirmed partners will have their keywords included in MSFHR ApplyNet and applicants will be able to indicate if they are interested in being considered for a partnered award.  MSFHR will continue to seek out additional partners throughout the competition cycle so check our website regularly for an updated list of confirmed partners and keywords.

For more information on this funding competition, contact Rashmita Salvi at 604.714.2779 or rsalvi@msfhr.org.


// November 26, 2014
Dr. Christopher West (left) and Dr. John Kramer received 2014 Scholar Awards jointly funded by MSFHR and the Rick Hansen Institute.

Spinal cord injury and its accompanying loss of mobility have a devastating impact on the health and well-being of more than 86,000 Canadians.

While paralysis is the most widely recognized symptom, numerous secondary complications such as neuropathic pain, pressure ulcers, bladder infections, and cardiovascular dysfunction present complex care needs for individuals and their families.

Although these conditions remain difficult to treat, advances in research have led to therapeutic breakthroughs that are changing what it means to live with spinal cord injury.

At the leading edge of research into spinal cord injury is the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI). Based at Vancouver’s Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, RHI is committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.

RHI oversees several initiatives that support research collaboration across the spinal cord injury community.

The RHI Global Research Platform currently runs multi-site studies in over 40 locations across Canada and develops collaboration with research groups in the United States, Europe, Australia, China, and Israel. The Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry collects data and experiences from more than 4,000 Canadians, providing an invaluable resource for researchers and clinicians seeking to better understand spinal cord injury. In addition, RHI recently partnered with facilities in China, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel to expand the registry in those locations.

“The Rick Hansen Institute isn’t really an institute – it’s a network,” says Bill Barrable, chief executive officer of RHI. “It’s really about bringing together smart people, aggregating patients, doing clinical trials and best practice implementation with a guided objective of reducing paralysis and its impact.”

“One of the best investments that we could make”

An important part of RHI’s commitment to research has been its ongoing partnership with MSFHR to jointly fund BC researchers studying spinal cord injury and related conditions.

 “I think the Michael Smith awards are one of the best investments that we could make in terms of research in this province,” says Barrable. “To build that career path, to bring young people into science at an early stage and in a directed fashion by leveraging funds – it’s a very smart way to invest in people, in knowledge, in translation which ultimately leads to better outcomes for patients here and elsewhere.”

Since 2006, the organizations have partnered to support four researchers, including 2014 Scholar Award recipients Christopher West and John Kramer.

Kramer and West are focused on understanding specific secondary complications that affect individuals living with spinal cord injury.

West is studying how the heart changes after spinal cord injury and how these changes potentially influence illness and mortality. His research also seeks to understand the role of exercise in offsetting dysfunction of the heart after spinal cord injury.

The support of the Rick Hansen Institute will open the door to opportunities that will enhance the scope and impact of his research.

“If, for example, I wanted to look at a very large clinical trial to look at the effects of a particular type of exercise training, by being partnered with the Rick Hansen Institute, I can access other research centres across the country and really expand the number of participants I can recruit and the impact my research can have,” says West.

Kramer, who was also co-funded by RHI as a 2008 MSFHR Trainee, is studying neuropathic pain. These severe pain symptoms, which originate in parts of the body affected by paralysis, can be highly debilitating to individuals living with spinal cord injury. Kramer hopes his work to understand the causes of this pain will point the way to better treatments.

He credits the partnership for increasing his access to invaluable research resources such as the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry.

“It’s a fantastic partnership because this is the premier research institute that is reaching the greatest number of Canadians with spinal cord injury, so you immediately have these connections and the resources as well,” says Kramer.

“I think these partnered awards have been how I’ve gotten to where I’ve gotten as far as my research goes and the position that I have now.”

Related links:


// November 26, 2014

Connections is MSFHR's monthly e-newsletter. Each issue highlights the top MSFHR news from the past month and showcases the impact of research we've funded.


In this issue:

Feature

MSFHR News


MSFHR launches 2015 Trainee Award competition

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) is pleased to launch the 2015 Research Trainee Program – Competition for Post-Doctoral Fellowship Awards.

This funding competition is open to applicants who are eligible to hold a post-doctoral fellow position at a BC-based host institution for the duration of the Research Trainee Program – Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award. Host institutions must have a signed memorandum of understanding with MSFHR.

At the time of application, applicants must commit at least 75 percent time to research training; this commitment does not include holding a full-time paid research position. Health professionals with active clinical service must commit at least 50 percent time to research training.

Competition guidelines are now available on MSFHR's website.

Note: The MSFHR ApplyNet system will open in early February 2015 to accept applications to this competition. Full application instructions will be posted at this time.

Letters of intent must be submitted by March 17, 2015. The deadline for receipt of full applications is April 20, 2015.

Back to top


BC Alzheimer's Research Award Program announces awardees

Five BC research teams have been awarded funds to study Alzheimer's disease thanks to a new $7.5M funding partnership between MSFHR, Brain Canada, Genome BC, and the Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation.

The award recipients, announced November 21 at a special presentation hosted by the funding partners, include three teams from the University of British Columbia and two from Simon Fraser University.

The creativity and vision of these teams offers hope for the 70,000 British Columbians living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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Dr. Samuel Aparicio named 2014 Aubrey J. Tingle Prize winner

Breast cancer researcher Dr. Samuel Aparicio has been named the winner of the fifth annual Aubrey J. Tingle Prize.

Dr. Aparicio's research program encompasses the fields of cancer genomics, mouse genetic models, high-throughput screens, and translational breast cancer research.

"Dr. Aparicio is an internationally recognized breast cancer and genomics scholar who has led landmark studies that have revolutionized the field of molecular oncology," says Dr. Diane Finegood, MSFHR president & CEO. "His research projects, including the world's largest global study of breast cancer tissue, have had far-reaching impacts on diagnosing and treating breast cancer."

Created in honour of MSFHR's founding president & CEO, this award is given to a British Columbia researcher whose work in health research is internationally recognized and has significant impact on advancing clinical or health services and policy research.

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MSFHR-RHI partnership a key investment in BC spinal cord injury research

Spinal cord injury and its accompanying loss of mobility have a devastating impact on the health and well-being of more than 86,000 Canadians.

Although this condition remains difficult to treat, advances in research have led to therapeutic breakthroughs that are changing what it means to live with spinal cord injury.

At the leading edge of research into spinal cord injury is the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI). Based at Vancouver's Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, RHI is committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.

Since 2006, RHI has partnered with MSFHR to support four researchers, including 2014 Scholar Award recipients Christopher West and John Kramer.

Back to top


Minimal-risk model a milestone for ethics harmonization in BC

BC has taken a significant step towards a more efficient and coordinated research ethics review process.

On December 1, a new model for harmonized ethics review of minimal-risk studies will begin pilot implementation in December, representing a major milestone in the ongoing BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (BCEHI). The model has been endorsed by the senior leaders of the partner organizations for a six-month pilot implementation across their research ethics boards.

By allowing researchers to submit a single ethics application, regardless of the number of BC jurisdictions involved in a project, the new minimal-risk model will reduce the research team’s administrative workload and allow applications to be more efficiently reviewed and approved.

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KT workshop offers new skills and perspectives

The Scientist Knowledge Translation Training (SKTT™) workshop co-hosted by MSFHR and Genome BC earlier this month was highly successful and drew a great mix of participants across all research pillars.

The two-day workshop, led by Drs. Melanie Barwick and Donna Lockett, was open to 2014 MSFHR Scholar Award holders and their teams, and individuals who are part of research projects funded by Genome BC.

The workshop allowed participants to develop a fundamental skill set and competencies around creating and implementing a KT plan that can help generate research impact, promote research utilization, and ensure that research findings reach the appropriate audiences.

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Fostering collaborations in digital health research

MSFHR is co-hosting a one-day interactive forum scheduled for February 5, 2015, that will bring together the sectors involved in developing, implementing, and delivering digital health solutions to some of health care’s most pressing challenges for:

  • Youth with mental health conditions (ages 11-25)
  • Supporting seniors with complex care needs in their homes
  • Other areas consistent with health system priorities and the new Directions for Health Research in BC

We invite interested individuals to learn more and register at www.msfhr.org/digital-health-forum.

Registration is free of charge, but space is limited.

Back to top


Spark >> A BC Health Research Blog

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// November 26, 2014

MSFHR is co-hosting a one-day interactive forum scheduled for February 5, 2015, that will bring together the sectors involved in developing, implementing, and delivering digital health solutions to some of health care’s most pressing challenges for:

  • Youth with mental health conditions (ages 11-25)
  • Supporting seniors with complex care needs in their homes
  • Other areas consistent with health system priorities and the new Directions for Health Research in BC

Attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn more about CIHR’s eHealth Innovations Partnership Program (eHIPP) funding opportunity and how to apply
  • Engage with individuals and organizations from the research, healthcare, education, government and technology sectors
  • Discuss enablers to successful cross-sectoral collaborations and jointly uncover potential solutions to key patient and system challenges. 

We invite interested individuals to learn more and register at www.msfhr.org/digital-health-forum.

Registration is free of charge, but space is limited.

Need more information or have questions? Contact Muneerah Kassam at mkassam@msfhr.org.


// November 25, 2014

BC has taken a significant step towards a more efficient and coordinated research ethics review process.

On December 1, a new model for harmonized ethics review of minimal-risk studies will begin pilot implementation, representing a major milestone in the ongoing BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (BCEHI). The model has been endorsed by the senior leaders of the partner organizations for a six-month pilot implementation across their research ethics boards (REBs).

BCEHI aims to create streamlined, high-quality processes that encourage multi-jurisdictional human health research and remove impediments to collaborative research studies. The goal is to improve the timeliness and efficiency of ethics review to make BC a more attractive environment for research.

By allowing researchers to submit a single ethics application, regardless of the number of BC jurisdictions involved in a project, the new minimal-risk model will reduce the research team’s administrative workload and allow applications to be more efficiently reviewed and approved.

The minimal-risk model was developed collaboratively by members of the BCEHI Advisory Committee, building on work initiated by research ethics board chairs and administrators at a January 2014 forum. The Advisory Committee developed the criteria for identification of the Board of Record for each minimal-risk, harmonized review. The Board of Record is pivotal to the ethics review process and acts as the central contact for the research team and other REBs. A toolkit with documentation that defines the roles for participating REBs in a harmonized review, and documentation to support harmonized procedures, has also been created to support REB administrators and members and researchers during the pilot implementation.

In addition, work is underway on a harmonized review model for above-minimal-risk studies. Pilot implementation and evaluation of this model is expected to begin in early 2015.

Survey to provide insight into model’s effectiveness

To assess the effectiveness of the minimal-risk model in meeting BCEHI's priority objectives, an evaluation of the model processes will be undertaken throughout the pilot implementation.

An online survey has been developed that measures the minimal-risk ethics review process from beginning to end. Several factors will be measured in evaluating the model’s implementation. These include ease of use of the process for researchers, acceptability of the Board of Record review by other ethics boards, use and effectiveness of communication channels, and the workload associated with the harmonized process.  The data collected through the survey will allow improvement of the model and hopefully demonstrate its effectiveness to the research ethics community.  

Participants in the ethics review process for multi-jurisdictional studies will be invited to take part in the survey. Feedback is critical for gauging the model’s effectiveness and identifying areas for improvement.

Metrics will be gathered over the course of the pilot implementation. A final report will be provided to the Senior Leaders Team with recommendations for full implementation of the minimal-risk ethics review model.