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Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

Health Sciences Leadership Series

A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

"This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

"œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.
 

A cut above

Public lecture will highlight cutting-edge surgical tool that will change the way tumours are removed.

Researchers from Queen’s University, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, and Imperial College in London, England are breaking new ground with a cutting-edge technology that could transform the way tumour removal surgery is performed.

Zoltan Takats (r) discusses the benefits of the iKnife, an innovative surgical tool that can detect cancer by analyzing or ‘smelling’ smoke created during surgery. (Photo by Matthew Manor)

The Intelligent Knife or ‘iKnife,’ developed by researchers at Imperial College London, is an innovative tool that can detect cancer by analyzing or ‘smelling’ smoke created during surgery. With a global reputation for work in developing image-guided surgical interventions that could enhance use of the iKnife technology, Queen’s has been asked to join a consortium to advance the tool’s capabilities.

“Surgeons and researchers from Queen’s University have joined a consortium of three academic partners and a corporate sponsor to investigate the possible uses of the iKnife,” says Dr. John Rudan (Head, Department of Surgery). “The iKnife has the potential to revolutionize the surgical treatment of cancer. Queen’s expertise in image-guided surgery and cancer research provides unique expertise important to the further development of the iKnife.”

At this time, the iKnife is an investigative research and surgical tool. Kingston will become the first city in North America to have access to the technology, joining a small number of centres in Europe. Intensive research will be done over the next several years at Queen’s with the iKnife being used in the operating rooms.

The iKnife was invented by Zoltan Takats, a member of the Department of Cancer and Surgery at Imperial College London, who is visiting Queen’s from Nov. 6 to 10 as the Dr. Andrew Bruce and Margaret Bruce Visiting Scholar in Surgical Innovation. Established by Dr. Andrew and Margaret Bruce, the endowment will be used to support the hosting of prominent scholars at Queen’s. These visiting scholars will bring special expertise in the area of surgical scholarship, introduce new research and ideas, teach new methodologies to Queen’s medical scientists and clinicians, and provide new concepts to Queen’s students.

The public is invited to hear Dr. Takats present a talk entitled, What Do the Molecules Tell Us? - The quiet revolution of chemical information, on the importance of molecular imaging in surgery, at a public lecture on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 4:30 pm at the Britton Smith Lecture Theatre in the Queen’s Medical Education Building on Arch Street.

The Conversation: Science in Canada needs funding, not photo-ops

Fresh off an election win in 2015, the Trudeau government won the support of the Canadian research community with a declaration that science and evidence-based decision making was back.

"Andrew Craig"
Andrew Craig, an associate professor in biomedical and molecular sciences at Queen's University, would like to see the government implement all recommendations from the Naylor report. (University Communications) 

Early action included the appointment of Canada’s first minister of science, and a modest increase in funding to the federal agencies that administer federal research funds in their first budget. While disappointed with the magnitude of investment, the research community rationalized that much more substantive changes to science funding would require more time, and hoped for an evidence-based process.

To this end, Science Minister Kirsty Duncan commissioned a review of federally funded research led by David Naylor and a panel of university administrators and distinguished researchers, including Nobel laureate Arthur McDonald.

The report was delivered in late 2016. But the official release was delayed until early April 2017, after the government presented its second federal budget with no new funds for Canada’s three federal research agencies, commonly referred to as the tricouncil: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Picking winners instead of basic research

In fact, there was no mention of these funding agencies or the importance of fundamental research in the 2017 federal budget, despite a major focus on innovation, which inevitably builds on fundamental discoveries.

Instead, Ottawa continued the trend of previous governments to support directed funding for specialized themes, including $6 million for stem-cell research, $81 million for space exploration, $10 million for quantum computing and $35 million to support international collaborations. This approach amounts to picking winners, and ignores the value of broad support for the science ecosystem.

To this day, there has been limited endorsement of the Naylor report recommendations by the Canadian government. Some suggest the science minister and the Naylor report failed to make a compelling case that a major reinvestment of $485 million dollars annually — less than 0.1 per cent of GDP — is needed to restore funding for fundamental research to 2005 levels.

Duncan was slow to endorse the report and appeared to question whether funding recommendations should be left to elected officials — surprising since she herself commissioned the report, and it provides the basis for evidence-based decisions on how to bolster Canadian science funding and delivery.

Research funding dire

Research funding in Canada has remained relatively flat. (Handout)
Research funding in Canada has remained relatively flat. (Handout)

Instead, a grassroots effort among Canadian researchers led to the organization of town hall meetings across Canada where researchers weighed in on their concerns. These forums revealed how dire the funding situation is for researchers, especially for those in early and mid-career positions who are attempting to build or sustain their research program.

The meetings also demonstrated that the research community strongly supports implementation of all recommendations in the Naylor report. “Support the Report” became a mantra taken up by many Canadian scientists on social media and in meetings with government officials. We collectively met with most federal MPs and ministers and often found ourselves educating them on the Naylor report — even those within the Liberal government.

Since then, there has been no evidence that the science minister or the prime minister will provide the budget support needed to enact the report’s recommendations.

Now at the midpoint of its mandate, the Trudeau government is attempting to traverse an ever-widening gap between the government’s messaging on science and its actions. Due to inaction, they have effectively reduced available funding for federal research in open competitions where the research topics are not constrained or dependent on industry partnerships.

Serious implications

Why should the public be concerned? The loss of investigator-initiated grants means that we are currently limiting the support for new fundamental discoveries that cannot be predicted by well-intentioned government or granting council executives.

Further, these discoveries are often not translated into new treatments or devices immediately. The late Tony Pawson, who made seminal discoveries during his biomedical research career in Canada, had an important message for all governments when accepting the prestigious Kyoto Prize in Japan in 2008: “Governments increasingly want to see immediate returns on the research that they support, but it is worth viewing basic science as a long-term investment that will yield completely unexpected dividends for humanity in the future.”

This was certainly a failing of the Harper government, and still largely applies to the science policy of the Trudeau government, despite the warm platitudes of how they value science.

Action needed now

It is time for the Canadian government to move past boutique programs and photo-ops. Without new investment in unfettered research funding to the tricouncil agencies, we will see generations of highly skilled scientists leave Canada or choose another career.

This will further the steady decline in Canada’s reputation for world-class research. It also has the unintended consequence of stemming the flow of new discoveries that feed into the innovation sector.

Recently, several positive steps on the science portfolio have included appointment of Canada’s chief science adviser to the government and a Canada Research Coordinating Committee. These are promising developments, but without a major increase in federal funding, the research ecosystem will remain on life support.

The ConversationIt is now 2017, a time for evidence-based decisions in science policy. It is time for the Canadian government to demonstrate they are moving ahead with all recommendations from the Naylor report to return balance and support Canadian science in all its wonderful diversity.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Queen's researcher recognized for major contributions to global cancer research

Elizabeth Eisenhauer has been awarded for exceptional leadership in cancer research.

"Elizabeth Eisenhauer"
Elizabeth Eisenhauer has been recognized by the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance with its award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

The Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) has recognized Professor Emerita Elizabeth Eisenhauer with its award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research for her preeminent work in the field of cancer clinical trials, cancer treatment and drug delivery, and cancer research strategy and development.  

Dr. Eisenhauer, renowned for her research in ovarian cancer, malignant melanoma, and malignant brain tumours, is one of only six recipients who will be formally presented with CCRA awards at the organization’s biennial scientific conference next week.

“I feel very honoured to have received this recognition from the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance,” says Dr. Eisenhauer. “CCRA has brought together research funding agencies from across the country to develop common strategies and shared investments designed to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer – work that I have long supported.”

Improving cancer treatment
In 1990, Dr. Eisenhauer discovered a method for administering a commonly-used cancer drug Taxol that not only sustained the drug’s efficacy longer, but also reduced its toxic side effects in patients. Her discovery led to a new global standard of care for Taxol use in the treatment of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, non-small cell lung cancer amongst others.

In 1982, Dr. Eisenhauer was instrumental in creating the Investigational New Drug (IND) Program for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), based at Queen’s University. Under her directorship, the IND program offered an opportunity for clinical investigators and patients to obtain new cancer drugs and contribute to their evaluation and development. During her tenure, which ended in 2012, Dr. Eisenhauer presided over 200 phase I-III clinical trials involving more than 5,500 patients and more than 100 new cancer-fighting drugs. Many of these drugs led to new international standards of cancer treatments.

From 2006 to 2017, Dr. Eisenhauer also assumed several other national leadership positions, including roles as president of the National Cancer Institute of Canada; expert lead, Research at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer; and co-chair of the CCRA. Most recently, she served as head of oncology at Queen’s before her retirement in June 2017.

“Dr. Eisenhauer’s ground-breaking research contributions have fundamentally changed how scientists develop, test, and administer new treatments for cancer,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s. “Her efforts to advance potential treatments safely and effectively through clinical trials have led to new standards of care and increased quality of life for cancer patients around the world. On behalf of Queen’s, I want to offer my congratulations for this well-deserved recognition, and commend Dr. Eisenhauer for her exceptional leadership in the fight against cancer.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Eisenhauer says there has been excitement around emerging immune treatments and molecular-targeted medicines for cancer, but she stresses that it would be a mistake to focus solely on a few treatment areas.

“Reducing the burden of cancer will require research and implementation of important findings in all areas, including prevention, early detection, treatment, survivorship, and palliative care,” says Dr. Eisenhauer. “There is a tendency to assume that there are simple answers to cancer, which leads to a lot of funding being directed into a single area of research. However, there have never been simple solutions, so a multi-pronged approach will be the only sufficient way to reduce the impact of this disease.”

The CCRA conference runs from Nov. 5-7 in Vancouver.

Keeping up The Conversation

It’s a simple, but powerful, formula. Take one part leading academic research, add a dash of journalistic flair, and mix in a robust digital presence. It is this winning recipe that has earned The Conversation, an academic journalism website, the participation of thousands of researchers worldwide, and captured the attention of millions of citizens interested in news with a healthy dose of academic rigour.

The Conversation
Queen's is a founding member of the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation and, since its launch earlier this year, 33 articles by Queen's experts have been published.   

After a successful soft launch this summer, the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation is running at full steam, having published hundreds of researchers’ articles, including a number from Queen’s. The university is a founding member of the national news platform.

“Our participation in The Conversation relays the importance and impact of disseminating and promoting the leading-edge research and scholarship happening at Queen’s University,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement and is already bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile.”

Over the course of the summer, over two dozen Queen’s academics contributed to The Conversation, sparking dialogue about the business of marijuana, how to improve the skills of tomorrow’s doctors, , recruiting more women to join the military, how to prevent irregular heartbeats, the meaning of The Tragically Hip’s lyrics, and more. These faculty and graduate students suggested topics, wrote columns, and submitted them to The Conversation. From there, professional journalists helped edit the articles to ensure consistency and clarity.

The Conversation’s unique model puts the researchers in the driver’s seat when sharing their expertise,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “It is increasingly important that we convey the impact of our research and ideas beyond the academy, and we believe tools such as The Conversation are filling that gap in a powerful way.”

THE STATS

The 33 articles published to date by Queen’s experts have garnered a combined 167,000 reads and 166 comments on The Conversation’s website. One of the most popular, and possibly most controversial, pieces was an article by David Maslove, Clinician Scientist with the Department of Medicine and Critical Care Program, about the need to regulate journalism in the same way his profession is regulated.

“Working with The Conversation’s editorial team was great, with turnaround times between drafts that were much faster than what I’m used to in traditional academic publishing,” says Dr. Maslove. “It was really gratifying to see the piece we created reach a wider audience and stimulate debate.”

Another notable Queen’s submission included Sarita Srivastava’s (Sociology) “I wanna be white!’ Can we change race? – a piece analyzing a recent controversy on transracialism. Dr. Srivastava’s piece led to an invitation for her to speak during a symposium on the matter held at the University of Alberta.

Sarita Srivastava
Sarita Srivastava

“Writing for The Conversation has been a wonderful opportunity to reach a wider audience and to comment on current events as they are happening,” says Dr. Srivastava. “Their editor was extremely skilled in working with me to write in a more journalistic style, while maintaining scholarly content. Within days of my article’s publication, I was invited to speak at an upcoming symposium on the same topic.”

Once the articles are posted to The Conversation’s website, they are shared with a large network of Canadian and international media organizations through a “Republish” feature and posting via The Canadian Press Wire service. The work of Queen’s academics has gone on to be featured in major North American newspapers such as The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News and The National Post, magazines like Scientific American, and national dailies as far away as Australia, where The Conversation was originally founded.

“In our first three months of publication, content from The Conversation Canada has been viewed almost two million times. Combining academic expertise with journalistic storytelling means we are reaching a wide audience across Canada and around the world at a time when the public is thirsting for reliable, fact-based information,” says Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Conversation Canada. “We're very pleased that Queen's has been with us from the very beginning, including a Day One story, as well as important articles on the country's health care system and the beauty of song lyrics, to name just a few.”

The Conversation is regularly seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

Investing in research

QROF supports cancer research 
Last year, 20 Queen’s faculty members received QROF grants, including Parvin Mousavi (School of Computing) whose project is advancing multi-parametric imaging for augmenting the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer. A recipient of the International Fund, Dr. Mousavi is working within the Advanced Multimodal Image-guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School.
According to the American and Canadian Cancer Societies, 262,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually and these numbers are expected to double by 2025 when the baby boomer generation reaches the age of peak prevalence. Dr. Mousavi’s research will contribute to better diagnoses and risk stratification of prostate cancer, and help decrease its mortality and morbidity.

Letters of intent are being requested for two funding competitions open to researchers and scholars at Queen’s University – the 2017-2018 Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grant (SIG) competitions.

The QROF provides researchers and scholars financial support to accelerate their programs and research goals, and offers opportunities to leverage external funding to build on areas of institutional research strength. Through a federal government block grant provided to Queen’s by SSHRC, the recently-redesigned SIG competition supports social sciences and humanities researchers with funding for research project development, pilot study work, or to attend or run knowledge-mobilization activities like workshops, seminars or scholarly conferences.

“Championing research and scholarly excellence is a cornerstone of our mission at Queen’s University,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The QROF competition allows us to make our largest internal investment in research, scholarship and innovation by supporting researchers striving to take their work to the next level. With SSHRC's recent redesign of the allotment of funding from the SIG, we are poised to reinvigorate research in the social sciences and humanities, further strengthening scholarship in the SSHRC disciplines."

The QROF competition consists of four funds:

  • The Research Leaders’ Fund – for strategic institutional commitments to aspirational research in support of the university’s research strengths and priorities
  • The International Fund – to assist in augmenting the university’s international reputation through increased global engagement
  • The Arts Fund – designed to support artists and their contributions to the scholarly community and to advancing Queen’s University
  • The Post-Doctoral Fund – to both attract outstanding post-doctoral fellows to Queen’s and to support their contributions to research and to the university

The SIG competition provides funding through two granting programs:

  • SSHRC Explore Grants – support social sciences and humanities researchers at any career stage with funds to allow for small-scale research project development or pilot work, or to allow for participation of students in research projects
  • SSHRC Exchange Grants – support the organization of small-scale knowledge mobilization activities in order to encourage collaboration and dissemination of research results both within and beyond the academic community, as well as allow researchers to attend or present research at scholarly conferences and other venues to advance their careers and promote the exchange of ideas

The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) has issued calls for letters of intent, and successful candidates will be invited to submit a full application. Information on each of the funds and the application processes can be found on the on the website of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research). For more information, email ferrism@queensu.ca.

Leaders in the classroom

The 2017 winners of the Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards have been announced with awards being handed out in educational leadership, student services, and curriculum development.

The awards, created in 2015, recognize individuals and teams who have shown exceptional innovation and leadership in teaching and learning on campus and are administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).

“This year’s award recipients are a dedicated group of faculty and staff and I commend them on their deep commitment to enhancing the student learning experience at Queen’s,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “Across campus there is a great deal of work taking place to foster excellence in teaching and learning and I am delighted that these awards can help raise the profile of this initiative.”

Each award celebrates a different aspect of teaching and learning, such as educational leadership and curriculum development.

Formal presentation of the awards will take place at the Teaching Awards Reception to be held in January 2018.

The recipients are:

Educational Leadership Award
Dr. J. Damon Dagnone, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences

Over the past two and a half years, Damon Dagnone has overseen a fundamental transformation in the design and delivery of postgraduate medical education (PGME) across the 29 medical and surgical specialty and subspecialty training programs at Queen’s. As the School of Medicine’s Faculty Lead for implementation of Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME) Dr. Dagnone has been instrumental in leading a medical school-wide transition to a new model of postgraduate training for physicians, as Queen’s became the first school in Canada to fully adopt this new educational paradigm. This education innovation has required a massive shift in the School of Medicine’s approach to education, and early on it was recognized that this effort would require a dedicated Faculty Lead to spearhead the transition. Dr. Dagnone was the lead author of the school-wide FIRE (Fundamental Innovation in Residency Education) proposal to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and his active advocacy was a key contributor to its ultimate approval which allowed Queen’s to move forward with CBME implementation. Beyond his leadership and engagement with stakeholders at Queen’s, Dr. Dagnone has also engaged on an ongoing basis with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and its various specialty committees, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and other Postgraduate Medical Education offices at medical schools across Canada.

Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award
Dr. Renée Fitzpatrick, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr. Renée Fitzpatrick has been the Director of Student Affairs for the Queen’s School of Medicine since 2014. A child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Fitzpatrick is an experienced and award-winning educator. The beginning of her tenure as director of student affairs coincided with heightened student concern about ‘burnout.’ Early on, Dr. Fitzpatrick helped facilitate a student-organized initiative, ‘Wellness Month,’ an idea that has now been adopted at medical schools across Canada utilizing the hashtag #keepsmewell. Subsequently, she has developed four ‘wellness half-days,’ which focus on self-awareness about awareness , self-care skills appropriate for the developmental stages of students at key points in the curriculum as well as awareness of and responsibility for developing resilience. In addition, Dr. Fitzpatrick has developed a coordinated approach integrating wellness, academic and career advising in an intentional fashion for all students across the four years of the curriculum. Students participate in regular meetings with faculty to provide support in these domains in an individualized fashion. As part of the re-imagining of the Learner Wellness program she has been instrumental in the introduction of an embedded counsellor and is an active participant in national meeting focussing on student wellness and student affairs.

Curriculum Development Award
School of Policy Studies team
Dr. Rachel Laforest
Dr. Robert Wolfe
Joel Jahrsdorfer
Andrew Graham
Fatemeh Mayanloo
Fiona Froats

Over the past four years, Rachel Laforest and her team have developed a competency-based curriculum which integrates experiential and problem-based learning to introduce students to the policy process and the role of policy analysis. Starting in 2014, the School of Policy Studies embarked on a curriculum renewal process after a series of external reviews identified the need to adapt the curriculum to reflect the contemporary public policy landscape. This review led to a greater integration of multi-disciplinary perspectives via the introduction of a new foundational course – MPA810. The team’s external engagement and strong links within the community allowed them to build real-world examples into the curriculum by leveraging the study hours that students participate in. It is this combination of classroom learning, community engagement and practical experience that provides students with a rounded and cutting-edge learning environment. The process of curriculum renewal led by Dr. Laforest and her team involved gather a strong evidence base and student were engaged throughout the process. In collaboration with Bob Wolfe, Dr. Laforest is now teaching MPA810, incorporating feedback from faculty and students along the way. 

World-class cardiopulmonary research facility opens

Queen's CardioPulmonary Unit to conduct heart, lung, blood and vascular research.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science have jointly awarded $7.7 million in funding to establish a new, state-of-the art facility, the Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit (QCPU) which opened its doors to the public for the first time on Friday, Oct. 6.

"Stephen Archer speaks during the launch event for the Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit"
Stephen L. Archer, Head of Medicine at Queen’s University, speaks during the launch event for the Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Biosciences Complex.

The new QCPU, housed within the Queen’s Biosciences Complex, allows the team to conduct world-class, transformative heart, lung, blood and vascular research to identify novel therapeutic targets and evaluate them in preclinical studies. The QCPU team will then translate these preclinical discoveries to humans through investigator-initiated clinical trials located in Kingston, Ottawa, Edmonton, Chicago, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

QCPU is the brainchild of Stephen L. Archer, Head of Medicine at Queen’s University and recipient of a prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Mitochondrial Dynamics and Translational Medicine. QCPU is a catalyst that accelerates research and discovery.

“Unique aspects of QCPU include the assembly of potent research teams and the provision of state-of-the-art tools that exist in very few centres in Canada or indeed globally,” says Dr. Archer.

QCPU is integrated with Kingston Health Sciences Centre, designated as a hospital satellite, and offers a state-of-the-art cardiac ultrasound facility and cardiopulmonary testing facility to explore why patients with heart and lung diseases are short of breath. In addition, there are exam rooms for patients in clinical trials.

On the basic science side, QCPU has a two-photon confocal intra vital microscope, allowing scientists to peer inside organs, blood vessels and cells. There is also a micro-PET-SPECT-CT to study preclinical models of human disease, says Dr. Archer. Finally, QCPU has advanced facilities for cell culture, protein chemistry and a NexGen sequencer to assess the role of the human genome and epigenome in disease.

“QCPU also supports patients who are participating in clinical trials, and connects them with scientists who study disease mechanisms and clinician investigators who are inventing new more effective treatments. The air that investigators and students breathe in QCPU is perfumed with creativity and a sense of discovery that focuses them on the identification of cures for heart, lung, blood, and vascular diseases. They are inspired and informed by the patients who pass through our center,” says Dr. Archer.

The network will also patent and commercialize its discoveries through partnerships with PARTEQ Innovations, Queen’s technology transfer group.

"QCPU will introduce a novel structure in which scientists who pursue the fundamental secrets of cells align with clinician investigators. This holds great promise for drug development and new therapies. Based on a model of research that is at its heart translational in nature, development will be directed by this unique interaction at the interstices of biomedical research,” says John Fisher, interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Due to the comprehensive ‘bench to bedside’ scope of QCPU research, its investigators have profound control over the discovery-therapy pipeline, so that novel approaches and targets identified in preclinical studies can be moved into multicenter, investigator-initiated trials throughout North and South America.”


How healthy is the Canadian health care system?

 

File 20170828 1612 bhj9um
Our rapidly aging society will place even greater pressure on the already expensive and mediocre Canadian health-care system. (Shutterstock)
 

Canada’s health-care system is a point of Canadian pride. We hold it up as a defining national characteristic and an example of what makes us different from Americans. The system has been supported in its current form, more or less, by parties of all political stripes — for nearly 50 years.

 

Our team at the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies Health Policy Council is a group of seasoned and accomplished health-care leaders in health economics, clinical practice, education, research and health policy. We study, teach and comment on health policy and the health-care system from multiple perspectives.

While highly regarded, Canada’s health-care system is expensive and faces several challenges. These challenges will only be exacerbated by the changing health landscape in an aging society. Strong leadership is needed to propel the system forward into a sustainable health future.

A national health insurance model

The roots of Canada’s system lie in Saskatchewan, when then-premier Tommy Douglas’s left-leaning Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government first established a provincial health insurance program. This covered universal hospital (in 1947) and then doctors’ costs (in 1962). The costs were shared 50/50 with the federal government for hospitals beginning in 1957 and for doctors in 1968.

This new model inspired fierce opposition from physicians and insurance groups but proved extremely popular with the people of Saskatchewan and elsewhere. Throughout the 1960s, successive provincial and territorial governments adopted the “Saskatchewan model” and in 1972 the Yukon Territory was the last sub-national jurisdiction to adopt it.


Read this article in French: Système de santé canadien : un bilan en demi-teinte


In 1968, the National Medical Care Insurance Act was implemented, in which the federal government agreed to contribute 50 per cent toward the cost of provincial insurance plans. In 1984 the Canada Health Act outlawed the direct billing of patients supplementary to insurance payments to physicians.

The five core principles of the Canadian system were now established: universality (all citizens are covered), comprehensiveness (all medically essential hospital and doctors’ services), portability (among all provinces and territories), public administration (of publicly funded insurance) and accessibility.

For the last 50 years, Canada’s health-care system has remained essentially unchanged despite numerous pressures.

Long wait times

The quality of the Canadian health-care system has been called into question, however, for several consecutive years now by the U.S.-based Commonwealth Fund. This is a highly respected, non-partisan organization that annually ranks the health-care systems of 11 nations. Canada has finished either ninth or 10th now for several years running.

One challenge for Canadian health care is access. Most Canadians have timely access to world-class care for urgent and emergent problems like heart attacks, strokes and cancer care. But for many less urgent problems they typically wait as long as many months or even years.

Patients who require hip or knee replacements, shoulder or ankle surgery, cataract surgery or a visit with a specialist for a consultation often wait far longer than is recommended. Many seniors who are not acutely ill also wait in hospitals for assignment to a long-term care facility, for months and, on occasion, years.

Canada ranks 9th out of 11 countries in The Commonwealth Fund ‘Mirror, Mirror 2017’ report.
 

And it’s not just accessibility that is the problem. Against measures of effectiveness, safety, coordination, equity, efficiency and patient-centredness, the Canadian system is ranked by the Commonwealth Fund as mediocre at best. We have an expensive system of health care that is clearly under-performing.

A landscape of chronic disease

How is it that Canada has gone from a world leader to a middle- (or maybe even a bottom-) of-the-pack performer?

Canada and Canadians have changed, but our health-care system has not adapted. In the 1960s, health-care needs were largely for the treatment of acute disease and injuries. The hospital and doctor model was well-suited to this reality.

Medical care offered in homes can be more efficient and comfortable than hospital visits. (Shutterstock)
 

Today, however, the health-care landscape is increasingly one of chronic disease. Diabetes, dementia, heart failure, chronic lung disease and other chronic conditions characterize the health-care profiles of many Canadian seniors.

Hospitals are still needed, to be sure. But increasingly, the population needs community-based solutions. We need to “de-hospitalize” the system to some degree so that we can offer care to Canadians in homes or community venues. Expensive hospitals are no place for seniors with chronic diseases.

Another major challenge for Canadian health care is the narrow scope of services covered by provincial insurance plans. “Comprehensiveness” of coverage, in fact, applies only to physician and hospital services. For many other important services, including dental care, out-of-hospital pharmaceuticals, long-term care, physiotherapy, some homecare services and many others, coverage is provided by a mixture of private and public insurance and out-of-pocket payments beyond the reach of many low-income Canadians.

And this is to say nothing of the social determinants of health, like nutrition security, housing and income. None of these have ever been considered a part of the health-care “system,” even though they are just as important to Canadians’ health as doctors and hospital services are.

Aging population, increasing costs

Canada’s health-care system is subject to numerous pressures.

First of all, successive federal governments have been effectively reducing their cash contributions since the late 1970s when tax points were transferred to the provinces and territories. Many worry that if the federal share continues to decline as projected, it will become increasingly difficult to achieve national standards. The federal government may also lose the moral authority to enforce the Canada Health Act.

A second challenge has been the increasing cost of universal hospital insurance. As economic growth has waxed and waned over time, governments have increased their health budgets at different rates. In 2016, total spending on health amounted to approximately 11.1 per cent of the GDP (gross domestic product); in 1975, it was about 7 per cent of GDP.

Overall, total spending on health care in Canada now amounts to over $6,000 (US$4,790) per citizen. Compared to comparably developed countries, Canada’s health-care system is definitely on the expensive side.

Canada’s aging population will apply additional pressure to the health-care system over the next few years as the Baby Boom generation enters their senior years. In 2014, for the first time in our history, there were more seniors than children in Canada.

The fact that more Canadians are living longer and healthier than ever before is surely a towering achievement for our society, but it presents some economic challenges. On average, it costs more to provide health care for older people.

In addition, some provinces (the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and British Columbia in particular) are aging faster than the others. This means that these provinces, some of which face the prospects of very modest economic growth, will be even more challenged to keep up with increasing health costs in the coming years.

Actions we can take now

The failure of our system to adapt to Canadians’ changing needs has left us with a very expensive health-care system that delivers mediocre results. Canadians should have a health-care system that is truly worthy of their confidence and trust. There are four clear steps that could be taken to achieve this:

1. Integration and innovation

Health-care stakeholders in Canada still function in silos. Hospitals, primary care, social care, home care and long-term care all function as entities unto themselves. There is poor information sharing and a general failure to serve common patients in a coordinated way. Ensuring that the patient is at the centre — regardless of where or by whom they are being served — will lead to better, safer, more effective and less expensive care. Investments in information systems will be key to the success of these efforts.

2. Enhanced accountability

Those who serve Canadians for their health-care needs need to transition to accountability models focused on outcomes rather than outputs. Quality and effectiveness should be rewarded rather than the amount of service provided. Alignment of professional, patient and system goals ensures that everyone is pulling their oars in the same direction.

3. Broaden the definition of comprehensiveness

We know many factors influence the health of Canadians in addition to doctors’ care and hospitals. So why does our “universal” health-care system limit its coverage to doctors’ and hospital services? A plan that seeks health equity would distribute its public investment across a broader range of services. A push for universal pharmacare, for example, is currently under way in Canada. Better integration of health and social services would also serve to address more effectively the social determinants of health.

4. Bold leadership

The ConversationBold leadership from both government and the health sector is essential to bridge the gaps and break down the barriers that have entrenched the status quo. Canadians need to accept that seeking improvements and change does not mean sacrificing the noble ideals on which our system was founded. On the contrary, we must change to honour and maintain those ideals. Our leaders should not be afraid to set aspirational goals.

Chris Simpson, Professor of Medicine and Vice-Dean (Clinical), School of Medicine; David Walker, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Executive Director of the School of Policy Studies; Don Drummond, Stauffer-Dunning Fellow in Global Public Policy and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies; Duncan Sinclair, Professor of Health Services and Policy Research; and Ruth Wilson, Professor of Family Medicine.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Celebrating a unique international partnership

Representatives from the University of Gondar, Queen’s University and the Mastercard Foundation highlight US$24 million collaboration 

  • Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf, Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation and Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar exchange university flags to mark the partnership. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf, Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation and Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar exchange university flags to mark the partnership. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • PhD student Molalign Adugna, Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar, chat with Principal Daniel Woolf and Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director of School of Rehabilitation Therapy. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    PhD student Molalign Adugna, Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic, University of Gondar, chat with Principal Daniel Woolf and Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and Director of School of Rehabilitation Therapy. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony was part of the celebration, featuring freshly roasted beans. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony was part of the celebration, featuring freshly roasted beans. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
  • Guests at the launch event, held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, also enjoyed Ethiopian bread and other traditional foods. (Photo by Stephen Wild)
    Guests at the launch event, held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, also enjoyed Ethiopian bread and other traditional foods. (Photo by Stephen Wild)

It takes plenty of behind the scenes work to get a 10-year, multi-million dollar program up and running. Over the past nine months, people at the University of Gondar and Queen’s University have been working closely with the Mastercard Foundation to put in place all the supports needed to launch the unique international academic and research program.

This week, representatives from all three organizations gathered in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre to celebrate accomplishments so far and to highlight the opportunities the

[Mastercard Scholars Foundation logo]

Learn more about The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

US$24 million partnership will bring. Its overarching aim is to create outstanding and inclusive educational opportunities for young people with disabilities in Ethiopia and other countries in Africa under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. At the same time, Queen’s will be welcoming University of Gondar faculty members who are dedicated to pursuing their PhDs or Masters.

“I want to acknowledge the vision of the Mastercard Foundation and particularly commend their leadership for choosing a program with such great social purpose,” said Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “It is the beginning of a partnership and the beginning of an exchange of cultures and knowledge that will benefit all of us.”

Under the partnership, 450 African students will become Mastercard Scholars and receive a high quality education at the University of Gondar. In total, the University will provide 290 undergraduate and 160 master’s level degrees in multidisciplinary fields that will encompass health sciences, law, education, nursing, and rehabilitation sciences, taking special care to recruit young people with disabilities, as well as young people from conflict-affected countries.

The University of Gondar will also deliver an annual Summer Leadership Camp for Scholars across the program, as well as a robust, practicum-based experiential program focused on giving back to community, through service and leadership skill development in the field of community-based rehabilitation.

For its part, Queen’s will be providing 60 University of Gondar’s faculty members with an opportunity to study here -- 16 in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program and 44 in PhD programs in various disciplines across the university. All faculty members who will study at Queen’s will enhance their skills in innovative pedagogy and in topics related to disability and inclusion on the continent.

The project will also offer funding for collaborative research to be conducted jointly on disability, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), and inclusive education, with co-Principal Investigators from the University of Gondar and from Queen’s.

The University of Gondar and Queen’s University will also collaborate to develop Ethiopia’s first Undergraduate Occupational Therapy program and will create a CBR certificate program for Mastercard Scholars at the University of Gondar.

“Along with the Mastercard Foundation, I would also like to thank Queen’s University for being an exceptional partner in providing high-caliber expertise in the areas of faculty development, research, and community based rehabilitation,” said Asrat Atsedewoyin, Vice-President Academic at the University of Gondar. “Global partnerships such at this are crucial to realizing our ambition to change the world for the better.”

Also sharing their thoughts at the event, were the first two University of Gondar faculty members to arrive at Queen’s to begin work on their PhDs.

“From my experience in teaching and administration, I have observed there is a great need for inclusion, visibility and equal access to education and employment for students with disabilities in Ethiopia,” said Molalighn Adugna, PhD Student. “I am very excited to be one of the 60 faculty who will receive further training here at this remarkable institution in order to return and support the vision of the University of Gondar to serve the community.”

Both students arrived in June and will be here for the next two years, before heading back to UoG to complete their dissertations.

“When I complete my study, I will pass my knowledge, skills and experiences to the next generation through teaching, research and most importantly by serving my community through strengthening clinical care,” said Mulugeta Chala, PhD student. “I want to thank the Mastercard Foundation for realizing this need and creating the opportunity for African youth like me to learn and prosper.”

Worldwide, the Mastercard Foundation runs a network of 28 Scholars Programs that provide education and leadership development for nearly 35,000 bright, young leaders with a deep personal commitment to changing the world around them.

“There are more than 80 million people across Africa who are living with disabilities and these young men and women deserve an inclusive education that’s designed to help them thrive, and professors and faculty that are committed to ensuring that they develop their skills,” said Kim Kerr, Deputy Director, Education and Learning, Mastercard Foundation. “The Mastercard Foundation played a role in bringing your institutions together based on common objectives, but your vision, commitment, and your passion for working together has truly exceeded all of our expectations.”

Over the coming weeks, the Gazette will continue its coverage of this partnership with a look at some of the experiences of students and faculty taking part in the program so far.

Visit Flickr to see more photos of the Mastercard celebration.

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