Kudos for September 2011

Recognizing significant contributions and achievements from the members of the Department of Medicine in the form of awards, grants, media mentions and publications.


Dr. Rob Beanlands has received a Tier 1 Research Chair in Cardiovascular Imaging  Award from the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine.

Dr. Dennis Bulman’s PhD student, Alexis Given, received the prestigious Synapse Mentorship Award from CIHR for her outstanding efforts in youth science outreach.

Dr. Al Forster has accepted position as Director, Continuous Quality and Performance Management (CQPM) at TOH.

Dr. Ann Bujega has been offered a position in the Healthcare Education Scholars Program (HESP) beginning September 12th, 2011.

Dr. Rashmi Kothary’s University Health Research Chair from the University of Ottawa and the OHRI was renewed for another 5 years. Dr. Kothary’s award recognizes his excellence in neuromuscular disease research.

Dr. Heather Lochnan has been appointed to the position of Director of CME in the Department of Medicine, starting September 1st, 2011.


Dr. Al Forster received $1.7 million from Ontario Research Fund for his research on e-triggers to improve hospital patient safety.

Dr. Gonzalo Alvarez was awarded a $350,000 grant from CIHR to investigate a novel rapid molecular test for TB.

Dr. Michael Rudnicki received $3.1 million from Ontario Research Fund to develop new regenerative therapeutics.

Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo, from Dr. John Bell’s group, received Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health $100,000 grant from Grand Challenges Canada.

Several young researchers received salary awards in last few months:

HSFC – Dr. Brianne Thrush in Dr. Alex Sorisky’s group

HSFC – Dr. Annabelle Caron in Dr. Michael McBurney’s group

CIHR Canadian HIV Trials/ Ontario HIV Treatment Network – Dr. Vanessa Illing in Dr. Louise Balfour’s group

CIHR – Dr. Heather Colquhoun in Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw’s group

Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research  – Dr. Carolina Ilkow in Dr. John Bell’s group

Dr. Marc Carrier was awarded a $440,000 grant from the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario to investigate a novel cancer screening strategy for people with unexplained venous blood clots. His study will determine if extra screening (CT scanning) will catch cancers earlier in these patients.

Dr. Hsiao-Huei Chen has been awarded $275,000 operating grant from the Canadian Diabetes Association to investigate how the brain controls metabolism, and how this may contribute to obesity, diabetes and other related conditions. Dr. Chen’s team believe a gene called LMO4 plays a key role in this process.

CIHR Operating Grants June 2011:

AARON, Shawn D: Strategies to Improve Diagnosis and Treatment of Asthma in Canadians

AARON, Shawn D: Simvastatin Therapy for Moderate and Severe COPD (STATCOPE)

ALBERT, Paul R: Transcriptional regulators of the 5-HT1A receptor gene

BURNS, Kevin D.: Translational Research on the Role of Tubular ACE2 in Kidney Disease Progression

GOLLOB, Michael Howard: Reversal and Attenuation of Cardiac Glycogen Storage Disease: A Potential Treatment

PARK, David S.: Mechanisms of DJ-1 in an aging model of PD

PARK, David S.: Role of cell cycle signals in neuronal death

RUDNICKI, Michael Anthony: Satellite Stem Cells from Skeletal Muscle for the Treatment of Neuromuscular Disease

SO, Derek Yiu Fai; STEWART, Alexandre F.R: Reassessment of anti-platelet therapy using individualized strategies – Association of genetic variants to adverse outcomes in clopidogrel treated patients after percutaneous coronary intervention: the RAPID AGAP study

BELL, John Cameron: Increasing vaccine manufacturing output using viral sensitizer technology

GRIMSHAW, Jeremy M.: Dr Cochrane: developing online learning modules from Cochrane reviews

GRIMSHAW, Jeremy M: HENDRY, Paul Jonathan: Bridging the gap between Knowledge Translation and Continuing Education for Health Professions: A Regional Approach

O’BRIEN, Edward Redmond Michael: Vascular Health and Disease: New Concepts & Therapeutic Opportunities

TUGWELL, Peter S.L: Improving reporting of health equity effects in systematic reviews


Dr. Jose Pereira interviewed by National Post for main feature on Euthanasia debate. 11 June 2011

Dr. Tony Hakim interviewed by media across the country regarding new research showing that Canadian stroke victims aren’t being treated quickly enough. Details in National Post.  Dr. Hakim is also featured on the National Research Council’s website answering questions about stroke.

Dr. Kumanan Wilson commented in Ottawa Citizen that a national vaccination registry would be a good first step towards improving vaccination rates in Canada.

Dr. John Bell and Dr. Harry Atkins interviewed re the official grand opening (June 29, 2011) of the Centre for Innovative Cancer Research.  The TOH Cancer Centre expansion allows researchers to quickly develop, test and manufacture new therapies for patients. It was built with $6.3 M from Canada Foundation for Innovation and with $9.5M from donors through the TOH Foundation.

Dr. Carl van Walraven interviewed by Reuters Health about his study on assessing potential risks of radiation from diagnostic CT scanning after testicular cancer treatment. Dr. van Walraven and colleagues found that post-treatment CT scanning did not appear to put men at higher risk for developing new tumours. See Journal of Clinical Oncology for details.

Dr. Mark Tyndall interviewed by The Ottawa Citizen about harm reduction programs for drug addicts.

Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo, a senior post-doc fellow in Dr. John Bell’s group, interviewed by Radio Canada Alberta about oncolytic viruses for the treatment of cancer.

Dr. John Bell and team were in the news after publishing results of a ground-breaking clinical trial of a cancer-fighting virus in the journal, Nature. The study is the first to show than an intravenously-delivered viral therapy can consistently infect and spread within tumours without harming normal tissues in humans. It is also the first to show tumour-selective expression of a foreign gene after intravenous delivery. (CTV, BBC, Al Jazeera, NPR’s Science Friday, Radio-Canada) September 2011.

Dr. Duncan Stewart was interviewed by Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) for an article in latest issue of Catalyst Newsletter. Dr. Stewart is co-Chair of CAHO’s research committee and has been involved in CAHO initiatives to streamline clinical trial administration and enhance translation of research evidence in practice in Ontario hospitals. September 2011


Dr. Peter Tugwell published an article on Biologicals for Rheumatoid Arthritis in British Medical Journal (BMJ) July 2011. Dr. Tugwell and his group looked at whether people who take a biological in addition to traditional disease modifying antirheumatic drugs will have a better chance of preventing irreversible joint destruction than those who do not. Further study is required to determine the benefits and safety of different biologicals and the paper suggests that clinical epidemiologists and pharmacoepidemiologists need to agree on developing national and international registries that provide such data.


Dr. David Picketts and colleagues published paper on a protein called ATRX and its role in intellectual disability in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, July 2011. The study shows for the first time how ATRX uses a novel mechanism to recognize and bind to certain “epigenetic” patterns in DNA. Genetic mutations in ATRX disrupt the binding, leading to genetic instability, brain cell death and ultimately, intellectual disability.

Dr. Marjorie Brand and Dr. John Bell were both featured in the first scientific video journal, The Journal of Visualized Experiments. Dr. Brand’s group demonstrated a novel technique for growing and manipulating human blood stem cells in the lab and Dr. Bell’s group demonstrated a method for evaluating oncolytic virus therapy in patient tumour samples.

Dr. Carl van Walraven’s research on urgent hospital readmissions shows that readmissions can’t be blamed on medical errors or gaps in care. His group analyzed records of over 5000 patients from 11 hospitals and found that only 16% of urgent readmissions were potentially avoidable. Most were due to health problems. See CMAJ for details. (August 2011)

Dr. Charles Thompson has published research which sheds light on the complex relationship between inflammation, blood vessels and brain disorders. Immune cells found in the brain produce an inflammatory protein called CRP that is correlated with lesions and vascular problems that accumulate in the aging brain. The research suggests that CRP could represent a novel target for the development of treatments for a number of brain diseases. See Brain Research for details (August 2011)

Dr. Michel Chretien’s group has discovered a novel genetic variation in a Quebec family that cuts their risk of cardiovascular disease by at least half. The variation was found in a gene called PCSK9 which Dr. Chretien discovered in 2003. The gene is involved in cholesterol metabolism and the variation results in lower levels of bad cholesterol. The study also suggests that such protective variations may more prominent in the French Canadian population. Further research could lead to cholesterol-lowering therapies. See Clinical Chemistry for details.