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Bridging the gap between laboratory research and healthcare to improve patient outcomes

Dr. Victor Tron Victor Tron, head of the Pathology and Molecular Medicine Department at Queen’s and head of Laboratories at Kingston General Hospital, in the Core Laboratory.

 A truly integrated approach to healthcare combines scientific research and clinical medicine to provide the best possible service for patients. Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen’s has been a leader in adopting this model to meet healthcare needs in Kingston and throughout Southeastern Ontario.

“The department is exceptional in that it sits at the interface between basic health science research and the clinical departments,” says Vice-Dean, Research and Stauffer Professor of Basic Oncology Roger Deeley, who is also Vice President of Health Sciences Research at Kingston General Hospital (KGH).

The department recognized this special role earlier than its counterparts elsewhere in Canada, and embraced it to a greater extent, so department members are now a mix of medical doctors and PhD researchers working together to meet broad healthcare needs.

“There is no point in doing research if we can’t turn it into something useful for the patient,” says Victor Tron, head of Queen’s Pathology and Molecular Medicine and KGH Laboratories. “We use our scientific and clinical research extensively with patients. It’s an important part of the culture of our department.”

Faculty members play a vital role in clinical care by providing diagnostic laboratory services and engaging in direct patient care through integration with the KGH Clinical Laboratory Services Program.

“A patient can’t move through the health care system until they’ve been diagnosed, and that’s where we come in,” adds Dr. Tron. “We have ongoing collaboration with other physicians. They are the quarterbacks and we’re the rest of the team in the background working together to serve the patient.”

They also deliver laboratory medicine services to hospitals throughout the region. Faculty members assist with blood work, cancer diagnoses, infectious disease diagnoses, and autopsies. They perform genetic testing and use their innovative laboratory research to help them achieve the most accurate diagnoses possible.

And faculty members are active teachers at the university, bringing their collaborative approach into the classroom.

“For example, if we’re discussing a genetic disorder for skin cancer, I would talk about the clinical aspects of the disease and a biochemist would talk about the research aspect. It’s a way for the students to see our collaborative process at work,” says Dr. Tron.

“I think it’s a model that we should aspire to in other areas of health research,” adds Dr. Deeley. “The fact that four pathology and molecular medicine faculty hold named research chairs speaks for itself.”

The department is home to over 50 Queen’s scientists and clinical physicians as well as 15 cross-appointed professors. The researchers collaborate to produce world-renowned work focusing on everything from cytogenetics to infectious diseases to anatomic pathology, all with a single goal—improving patient outcomes.

For more information on the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, visit their new website at www.path.queensu.ca.