Kudos for May 2014



Doctors in the United States are looking north for help determining when diagnostic tests are needed in hospital emergency rooms. A paper recently published in the prestigious JAMA Internal Medicine features a list of the top five ways to reduce unnecessary procedures, three of which are based on work by Drs. Ian Stiell and Phil Wells.

Kumanan Wilson stated in the Ottawa Citizen that the question of vaccine injury is often not discussed or acknowledged due to the fear of fuelling an irrational movement against the life-saving tool. Compensating the rare injuries caused by vaccines is important to maintaining high levels of confidence in immunization.

Deborah Pugh from Autism Community Training spoke with Global News about the lack of funding for families affected by autism. She said “We need to develop proper systems and we need to have a situation where a family who’s desperate actually knows where to go and they can’t be told ‘we have nothing for you’” and “There should be a guarantee that a family who is in desperate circumstances can actually get support.”

Shawn Marshall, along with a seniors driving expert, was featured on CBC Ottawa Morning with his take on the changes to the new licensing rules for drivers 80 years and older.

Curtis Cooper was featured in a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper concerning new drugs to treat Hepatitis C. In the article, Dr. Cooper argues that pharmaceutical companies and governments need to work together to find a way to make these more effective Hepatitis C treatments available to Canadians at all income levels.

 Mark Tyndall was part of a group of more than 70 Canadian doctors that say that these days HIV transmission varies from low-to-impossible with the help of factors such as condom use and drug therapy to lower viral loads. He told GlobalNews “More recently, criminalization of HIV has been promoted as a way to prevent HIV transmission. It’s very counterproductive and we felt it was time to make a statement and inform the legal system about the actual science they should be making their decisions upon”.

Hillel Finestone told Reuters Health that a small study found that virtual reality games may improve stroke recovery patients.  The exercises appear to be a relatively inexpensive way to improve people’s ability to balance and walk following a stroke. As the study’s senior author, Dr. Finestone directs the Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital.

Kumanan Wilson was quoted in a Postmedia News article concerning the resurgence of Polio and the importance of vaccinating people against the disease. This past week, the World Health Organization declared the spread of polio to be an “international public health emergency.


A team of researchers that includes Drs.Michael RudnickiJeff DilworthLynn Megeney and Theodore Perkins have been awarded $1.2 million by the CIHR for a five-year study into the triggers that cause Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (aRMS), an aggressive cancer that develops in children and teenagers. Further details, including a list of co-investigators, can be found in CIHR’s Funding Decision Database

The new AbbVie and Gilead drugs will be the first all-oral treatments for genotype 1 hepatitis infections, the type that afflicts the majority of the estimated 300,000 Canadians with hepatitis C, including 15,000 in the Ottawa region. Both “represent quantum leaps forward in terms of what we can offer our patients,” said Dr. Curtis Cooper, director of the Ottawa Hospital and Regional Hepatitis Program. Cooper’s team at The Ottawa Hospital participated in the worldwide clinical trials of the AbbVie treatment, which combines five medications in a single super-pill.

Marc Carrier has published a study in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis that identifies an increased risk of developing dangerous blood clotting in their veins (venous thromboembolism, or VTE) in people who have had surgery for kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) but whose tumours could not be fully removed because of spread to the veins (tumour thrombus).

Ronald Worton, an Oakville-based medical hero has been inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. He led the development of the OHRI by bringing together two institutes under one administrative structure, coupled with extensive recruitment of basic scientists and clinical investigators. Under his tenure the Institute grew to be one of the top health research institutes in Canada and remains so today.

Drs. Michael Schlossmacher and David Park have been awarded a five-year team grant in the amount of $2.5 million from the CIHR to study the role of a specific gene (LRRK2) in three debilitating chronic diseases: Parkinson’s, Crohn’s and leprosy. The team will develop a detailed understanding of the role that the LRRK2 gene plays in regulating our immune system and how it can lead to the development these diseases.

Drs. Dar Dowlatshahi and David Grimes are part of $28.5 million initiative funded by the Ontario Brain Institute to investigate neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia, Parkinson’s and ALS. The five year study brings together 54 investigators, 12 clinical sites, 17 universities and hospitals, six industrial partners and 600 patients in an effort to better understand a number of different neurodegenerative brain disorders that afflict people. Dr. Grimes is the Ottawa-based Principal Investigator for Parkinson’s disease while Dr. Dowlatshahi is the Ottawa Principal Investigator for Vascular Cognitive Impairment.

Dr. Alan Tinmouth and the University of Ottawa Centre for Transfusion Research (UOCTR) have been awarded $718,286 by Canadian Blood Services. Dr. Tinmouth heads up the centre, which is a multidisciplinary group of researchers in hematology, nephrology, surgery and intensive care who work together on common research topics such as transfusion, resuscitation and transplantation. The Canadian Blood Services award will help to support non-grant funded research and clinical research fellowships. Of particular interest, the new funding will enable UOCTR researchers to link with The Ottawa Hospital’s Data Warehouse.


Dr. Alan Forster has accepted the position of Chief Quality and Performance Officer at TOH. “Dr. Forster has been a great leader in the hospital’s Performance Measurement Department for the last three years,” said Dr. Jim Worthington. Having published 135 papers, Dr. Forster is also recognized for his research advances in the field of quality and patient safety, especially with regard to adverse events. As a physician, Dr. Forster continues to provide hospital care as part of the General Internal Medicine service.


Mark Freedman, Professor of Neurology at the University of Ottawa, and OHRI’s senior scientist will give medical practitioners at a major Multiple Sclerosis Conference on Comprehensive Approach to MS Care an opportunity to gain new insights into the vanguard of MS research, thanks to a presentation entitled, “Stem Cell Update”. The event is taking place in Dallas from May 28 to 31st.

In a new study, published in the prestigious journal Cell Stem Cell, the teams of Drs. Marjorie Brand and David Allan show that it is possible to dramatically enhance the therapeutic potential of blood vessel stem cells by pre-treating them with a drug that removes chromosomal markers that silence specific genes (i.e. epigenetic control). This approach holds great promise to improve stem cell therapies for vascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke patients.

The Government of Canada has announced the creation of the Canadian Clinical Trials Coordinating Centre, whose aim is to improve the coordination of clinical trial activities and streamline regulatory processes for companies and researchers. Housed at the offices of the Health Charities Coalition of Canada in Ottawa, the Canadian Clinical Trials Coordinating Centre has received funding of $1.5 million over three years and is a collaboration between the CIHR, Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D), and the merged organizations of the ACAHO and the CHA. Dr. Duncan Stewart represents ACAHO and CHA on the three person executive committee of the Canadian Clinical Trials Coordinating Centre.

OHRI Scientists gathered at the Canadian Museum of Nature for the annual Scientific Retreat. At the offsite meeting, numerous scientists presented papers about their latest research findings, including Drs. Marjorie Brand, Michael Schlossmacher, Doug Manuel, Harry Atkins and Manish Sood. The meeting also included an update on the application process for CIHR’s new Foundation grants; a keynote address from Dr. David Park, Director of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Institute; and a discussion of strategic plans with Drs. Jack Kitts, Bernard Jasmin, Phil Wells and Duncan Stewart.

Jack Karsh was awarded with the Jeffrey Shiroky Prize at the Laurentian Conference on de Novo Acquired Immune Deficiency in recognition of his contribution in the field of research in inflammatory disease.