Connections >> March 2014

24 March 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.

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In this issue:



Research Roundup

Seniors’ mobility research comes to life in new documentary

“What makes a neighbourhood a good place to grow old?”

That’s the question underscoring I’d Rather Stay, a new documentary by MSFHR-funded knowledge broker Callista Haggis, which examines the urban environment’s impact on older adults living in Greater Vancouver.

The film is an intimate look at the lives of five older adults as they reflect on the features of their homes and neighbourhoods that contribute to physical and emotional well-being.

I’d Rather Stay illustrates themes identified by the Active Streets, Active People (ASAP) study, a research program of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. ASAP is evaluating the impact of street-level changes in Vancouver’s West End — specifically the development of the Comox-Helmcken greenway — on older adults’ mobility and social interactions.

Report and asset map build foundation for national HSPR strategy

A strategic analysis of Canada’s assets and resources for health services and policy research (HSPR) represents an important step towards the first pan-Canadian vision and strategy for HSPR. The analysis, led by the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, was recently published as a comprehensive report and complementary asset map.

MSFHR President & CEO Dr. Diane Finegood served as a lead on the project in her capacity as co-chair of the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations.

SPOR business plan completion targeted for March 31

The business plan for BC’s SPOR support unit is nearing completion. A draft outlining the unit’s vision, mission, goals, and service model is currently undergoing revision with a targeted completion date of March 31.

The business plan is informed by a broad range of perspectives from across BC’s health research sector. Input has been gathered over the past year through an extensive consultation process that has engaged government representatives, health system leaders, health care providers, researchers, and experts on patient perspectives. Recent consultation activities have included a workshop for clinical trials experts, held March 11 in Vancouver, and regional focus sessions held the week of March 17 – 21 in Northern BC, the Interior, and on Vancouver Island.

Once completed, the SPOR support unit business plan will be submitted to CIHR for review. The iterative review process for business plan submissions is outlined on CIHR’s website.

For more information on SPOR and BC’s support unit, visit

MSFHR announces new board members, senior staff portfolio changes

MSFHR is pleased to welcome three new members to its board of directors. Joining the board are Heather Davidson, Roslyn Kunin, and Marco Marra, whose appointments were confirmed at the February 21 board meeting.

The incoming board members collectively bring with them a wealth of experience across the research, business and government sectors. Full bios of all directors are available on MSFHR’s website.

MSFHR is also pleased to announce the following portfolio changes for members of its management team.

  • Bev Holmes is now vice-president, research & impact, with responsibility for programs and competitions in addition to her current portfolio of projects, knowledge translation, and impact analysis.
  • Gordon Schwark is now vice-president, finance & corporate services. In addition to finance, his portfolio includes human resources, facilities, IT/IM, shared services, and board governance.
  • Greg Martyn will assume the role of interim director, programs & competitions, while also serving as director of projects.

Research Roundup

  • Francesco Crea
    New research led by MSFHR Trainee Francesco Crea describes a previously uncharacterized gene, PCAT18, that is a driver of prostate cancer metastasis. The findings, published recently in the journal Oncotarget, suggest that PCAT18 represents a potential therapeutic target and biomarker for metastatic prostate cancer, which is currently incurable.
  • Elaine Kingwell & Helen Tremlett
    Beta interferons (IFNB), the most frequently prescribed immunomodulatory drugs for multiple sclerosis, are not associated with increased risk of cancer, according to new research led by MSFHR Trainee Elaine Kingwell and MSFHR Scholar Helen Tremlett. By linking data from more than 5,000 MS patients in BC with data from the BC Cancer Agency, BC Vital Statistics, and the BC Ministry of Health, the researchers were able to compare IFNB treatment histories of MS patients with and without cancer over a 12-year period. The results, published recently in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, provide valuable evidence of the long-term effects of IFNB treatment.

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