Making a Difference — The Impact of Foundation Investment in Research

  • March 11, 2015
  • News

A world-leader in advancing healthcare across the full spectrum of human health, HHS Research continues to expand its reach both within Canada and abroad. HHS Research is steadily increasing its span and gaining ground in the global forum. This success can be attributed to several factors: a solid foundation established by research mavericks decades ago; Hamilton’s unique multi-site environment that encourages transdisciplinary collaboration; the close relationship with McMaster University; a conglomeration of world-renown researchers; and the strong support of the entire Hamilton Health Sciences community — particularly the HHS Foundation.

Five research programs received Foundation support at the 2014 Gala. We followed up with the research teams to examine the impact of that investment:

One year following the support, the McMaster Pediatric Surgery Research Collaborative (MPSRC) has continued to study important clinical research questions to improve the lives of patients at McMaster Children’s Hospital and in the broader health community. “This generosity from The Foundation has specifically allowed the Collaborative to hire a full-time research assistant for pediatric surgery and a full-time research coordinator to oversee the collective research activities of the MPSRC,” Says Dr. Luis Braga. “These valuable additions have unified the MPSRC toward conducting our first collaborative project, to study the efficacy of Interactive Tablet Distractions in reducing perioperative anxiety surrounding pediatric surgical procedures in the specialties of urology, general surgery and ophthalmology. Without the kind support of The Foundation, the continued research activities of the MPSRC would not be possible.”

From pediatrics we look at the opposite end of the spectrum, human aging. With the number of seniors expected to double over the next decade there has never been a more urgent need for evidence-based strategies promoting healthy aging. Launched in late 2013, St. Peter’s GERAS Centre is dedicated to providing exemplary care in geriatrics using a rapid learning health system approach. The exceptional team of clinicians, researchers and learners are focused on research and innovation, strengthening inter-professional geriatric care, and connecting patients, families, and healthcare providers with information and services to promote successful aging. “Our efforts have been focused in three key areas: Frailty, Falls and Fractures, Dementia and Delirium, and End of Life Care and our many educational activities have been aimed at moving research into practice” says Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou. “Foundation funding supported Dr. Courtney Kennedy in her research with the CaMos Study, a longitudinal study of older Canadians which identified that frailty was reversible and could improve regardless of age.”

Also relating to the aging population is the work of Dr. PJ Devereaux, “We are incredibly grateful for the support received from the HHS foundation for the HIP ATTACK Trial. The HIP ATTACK Trial will provide us the opportunity to understand, and to clearly answer the question of whether accelerated access to surgery compared to standard care for hip fracture patients will improve post-operative outcomes and quality of life. The support from the HHS Foundation will allow us to offset both, research personnel costs and nursing costs, required to facilitate accelerated surgery for hip fracture patients at participating sites as well as costs associated with central coordination of the trial. Ultimately, the funding will be crucial to supporting our recruitment goal of 1,200 patients internationally by June 2016.“

Foundation funding for the support of the Stroke Program has been used to recruit an additional stroke fellow. Explains Dr. Robert Hart, “The additional stroke fellow provides the critical mass required to expand urgent evaluations of patients with acute strokes and TIAs in the Emergency Department and outpatient Stroke Prevention Clinic, as well as inpatient consultations. In short, we are grateful for the funds that allow our clinical services to be expanded to provide timely care for stroke-related disorders at HHS.”

Dr. Rosalyn Juergens sums up the impact HHS Foundation support has had on cancer research, “Lung cancer is no longer one disease. Molecular testing can define numerous different subtypes of lung cancer. This information helps select more personalized treatment options for patients. The funds from the 2014 HHS Gala have provided the Lung Cancer Disease Site Team with the ability to pilot the newest technologies which identify these molecular subtypes. Within 2015, we will be one of the first cancer centres in the province to use next generation platform testing as part of our routine evaluation for lung cancer. This technology will be expanded to define treatment options for other cancers such as melanoma and colon cancer for even broader impact in our community. These funds are keeping Hamilton at the cutting edge in oncology.”