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Honouring Canada's health-care leaders

Drs. Max Cynader, Ronald Worton, Salim Yusuf, Thomas John (Jock) Murrary and Adolfo de Bold (left to right) were inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame last week.

Queen's Faculty of Health Sciences hosted the 2014 induction ceremony for the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame last week. This year's inductees included Dr. Max Cynader, Dr. Adolfo de Bold (MSc’72, PhD’73), the late Dr. Walter C. Mackenzie, Dr. Thomas John (Jock) Murray, Dr. Ronald Worton, and Dr. Salim Yusuf.

The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is the world’s only national hall of fame dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary contributions of medical professionals. Established in 1994, the hall of fame has since honoured 101 outstanding individuals.

More information about this year's inductees is available in a story previously posted on the Queen's News Centre.

Bridging the gap between ideas and action for global health

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Bridging the gap between ideas and action is the focus of the second annual Knowledge Translation for Global Health Summer Institute at Queen’s University. The conference offers upper-level students, graduate students, researchers and professionals an opportunity to learn about global health and social problems and how best to move evidence into action to improve or solve them.

Co-chair Colleen Davison.

“We cannot ignore the gap between knowledge and action,” says event co-chair Colleen Davison (Public Health Sciences). “Knowledge translation is important in many areas. We need to move apply knowledge towards improving health in vulnerable populations, food security and even service reconstruction in areas of conflict. This workshop will provide the tools for bridging the gap that so often exists between the knowledge of solutions and their implementation.”

Based on feedback following the inaugural conference, the organizers have developed a new two-day option this year that is designed to emphasize skill-building. Participants in the two-day workshop will build competences in such areas as deliberative dialogue, partnership building and message communication.

The original five-day workshop will involve a more comprehensive approach to building knowledge translation understanding through a small group, problem-based learning experience. In addition to attending the skills workshop, students in this option will have opportunities to apply their new skills to a current global health project with the help of an experienced mentor. One of the main goals of the event is to build a supportive community for knowledge translation and mentors who have experience in the field will be available for one-on-one support throughout the week.

As an opportunity for public participation, there is a free public roundtable discussion titled “Knowledge Translation in Context: Lessons from the Poorest Countries to the Richest.” Keynote speakers include Margaret Biggs, the Skelton-Clark Fellow in the School of Policy Studies and former president of the Canadian International Development Agency, and Ian Graham, former vice-president of Knowledge Translation at Canadian Institutes of Health Research and senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. This event will take place on Tuesday, June 3 from 6:30- 8 pm at the New Medical Building .

The Global Health Summer Institute runs June 2-6 and early bird registration is now open.

Queen's experts to help millions of chronic pain suffers

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Queen’s is collaborating with the University Health Network (UHN) on a province-wide initiative to provide better care for 2.7 million Ontarians living with chronic pain.

“Extensions for Community Health Care Outcomes, or ECHO, will remove barriers of access in the management of chronic pain and opioid stewardship, and will also become a powerful educational tool,” says Karen Smith, Associate Dean, Queen’s Office of Continuing Professional Development.

ECHO works by enabling primary care providers to work at the highest level of their scope, hence overcoming geographical barriers and specialist shortages. By de-monopolizing knowledge during weekly video discussions, the expert ECHO hub will connect with primary care providers to create a supportive community where best practices can be widely and rapidly disseminated. Queen’s was the first university in Canada to embrace the ECHO model after Dr. Ruth Dubin (Family Medicine) introduced it at the Office of Continuing Professional Development in early 2013.

The Ontario government is investing in new initiatives to ensure appropriate treatment, diagnostic testing and prescribing for patients with chronic pain. The province is partnering with UHN by connecting chronic pain specialists with primary care providers through the ECHO project.

Queen’s Office of Continuing Professional Development will manage the educational component of ECHO Ontario.

“ECHO will assist patients in a timely manner by connecting their primary care practitioners with a network of chronic pain specialists across the province,” says Dr. Smith. “ECHO will foster an interactive and inter-professional experience for the clinicians involved. The collaborative process leverages the best practices of adult learning and develops content that is timely, applicable and meaningful in the specific clinical context.”

After initially being developed to train remote primary care providers in New Mexico in the treatment of hepatitis C, the ECHO model has been expanded to 19 other chronic diseases and has been disseminated through many U.S. states, India, Brazil, Ireland and Uruguay. Interest is growing among Ontario health-care professionals to develop the model for the treatment of hepatitis C, rheumatology, mental health, addictions, HIV and many other complex chronic conditions.

Researcher's career work improves kidney stone treatment

Dr. Glenville Jones. 

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

After spending much of his career conducting extensive research on vitamin D metabolism, Queen’s researcher Dr. Glenville Jones has been featured in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) “celebrating the impact of health research” series.

The CIHR write-up focuses on the impact of Dr. Jones’ research on the idiopathic infantile hypercalcemia (IIH) – a rare disease that causes the build-up of calcium in the kidneys and eventually leads to kidney stones in the patient.

Along with two German pediatric nephrologists, Dr. Jones showed that one of the main causes of IIH is a genetic mutation of the enzyme CYP24A1 that prevents the breakdown of vitamin D. Since this discovery, there is now an increased ability to diagnose, manage and treat hypercalcemia in children and adults.

“Most hypercalcemia patients eventually develop kidney stones, and everyone knows that the passing of kidney stones is one of the most painful experiences a human can suffer,” says Dr. Jones, a biochemistry professor in the School of Medicine. “A few IIH patients will go on to suffer from permanent kidney damage so it’s important that research in this area continues to develop.”

The write-up in the CIHR-IMHA special publication is a wonderful recognition of the impact of our basic science work on a clinically-relevant problem.
- Dr. Glenville Jones

CIHR’s special publication was created as a way to celebrate the value and impact of research in areas such as musculoskeletal health, arthritis, skin diseases and oral health conditions, as well as to demonstrate how important funding is to healthcare.

Dr. Jones acknowledges the benefits CIHR’s special publication will have on his research.

“The write-up in the CIHR-IMHA special publication is a wonderful recognition of the impact of our basic science work on a clinically-relevant problem,” says Dr. Jones. “In the past, knowledge and publicity of our work has helped spawn the Idiopathic Infantile Hypercalcemia-Europe-Canada-Collaboration which works with IIH patients around the world to investigate their illness and establish new treatment protocols.”

Dr. Jones' research is acknowledged as a part of CIHR's entire "celebrating the impact of health research" series, with an article titled "When too much is definitely too much: genetic mutation prevents vitamin D breakdown."


Targeting drugs to reduce side effects

Dr. Donald Maurice, Director of the Cardiac, Circulatory and Respiratory Research Program at Queen's.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

Consider ice cream – the base of which is frozen cream. Ingredients are then added to make different flavours. All these flavours are distinctly different but are created from the same foundation.

The same goes for actions of phosphodiesterases or PDEs – enzymes that are key targets for drugs that combat various cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Although PDEs carry out only one reaction in cells, they inactivate small signaling molecules. As humans, we can create about 120 different “flavours” of PDEs, using the 26 different PDE genes in our genome.

After conducting a review of the drugs that act by targeting individual PDE “flavours”, Donald Maurice, Director of the Cardiac, Circulatory and Respiratory Research Program at Queen’s, and his international co-authors have learned that many of the drugs’ side effects can be avoided.

When PDEs are inhibited, there is an increase in the rhythmic beating of the heart and blood pressure is often reduced. Common PDE-inhibiting drugs include caffeine and Viagra.

It's important to understand drug successes, but comprehensive critical reviews give researchers the chance to understand the basis of failures and make improvements.
- Dr. Donald Maurice

The research review aimed to study previous research on PDE’s in order to position past results in the context of the recently discovered “flavours” of PDEs, which can be targeted individually by cardiovascular drugs.

“Few PDE drugs currently available have the selectivity needed to target the individual PDE ”flavours” that contribute to human diseases,” says Dr. Maurice, also a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. “Yes, it’s important to understand drug successes, but comprehensive critical reviews give researchers the chance to understand the basis of failures and make improvements.”

While PDE-inhibitors have been used in the past to treat cardiovascular illnesses, this review outlines recent advances from the laboratories of the authors that have led to an increased interest in the design of PDE-acting drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and diabetes.

The review also found that drugs that target specific locations within a cell are more likely to be successful.

“If you can regulate individual events happening in individual locations of the cell then you can leave the normal functions of the cell unaffected while challenging the abnormal ones,” says Dr. Maurice.

Dr. Maurice’s review was published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. His research program is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Queen's welcomes Canada's 'medical heroes'

By Communications Staff

Six medical professionals including Queen’s alumnus and former faculty member Adolfo de Bold will be inducted into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame on April 24 at a ceremony hosted by Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

“It is a very special privilege to host this event and celebrate six pre-eminent Canadians,” says Richard Reznick, Dean, Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences. “It is also a wonderful opportunity for us to open the doors of our fair city to Canada’s medical heroes and more than 500 guests from across Canada.”

Dr. de Bold (MSc’72, PhD’73) is considered the “father” of the field of cardiovascular endocrinology. Best known for his transformative discovery of the cardiac hormone atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) in 1981, he demonstrated that the heart is not only a pump but an endocrine organ. After earning his doctorate degree, Dr. de Bold joined the faculty ranks at Queen’s. He moved to Ottawa in 1986 where he served as the inaugural director of the research at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

The other inductees include:

Dr. Max Cynader, a world-renowned neuroscientist in the area of vision and brain development. His scientific discoveries, biotechnology companies and community outreach have led to new treatments and improved public understanding of the importance of brain health.

• The late Dr. Walter C. Mackenzie, who transformed the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and was instrumental in the development of numerous medical and surgical programs.

Dr. Thomas John (Jock) Murray, a world leader in multiple sclerosis and neurological research, resulting in major advances in the understanding of the disease.

Dr. Ronald Worton, a trailblazer in disease gene discovery. He and his team discovered the causal gene for Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, a seminal breakthrough that resulted in greater understanding of the disease and revolutionized diagnosis and patient care.

Dr. Salim Yusuf, whose research has transformed the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and saved millions of lives around the world.

The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, located in London, Ont., is the world’s only national hall of fame dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary contributions of medical professionals. Established in 1994, the hall of fame has since honoured 101 outstanding individuals.

More than 575 senior health care, academic and business leaders will gather at the Rogers K-Rock Centre on Thursday, April 24 to celebrate the latest inductees. More information is available on the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame website.


Answering the call for doctors

The shortage of dermatologists in the local area is about to end. Today the Department of Medicine at Queen’s University is launching a new academic Division of Dermatology. The clinics will be based at Hotel Dieu Hospital and the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario.

“Canadian Dermatology Workforce Survey documents indicate that the clinical needs of an area with the population of Southeastern Ontario should be served by approximately nine dermatologists,” says Stephen Archer, Head of the Department of Medicine at Queen’s. “Until now, however, we’ve had only one very busy private practice dermatologist.”

Yuka Asai

“Typically, patients have seen the existing dermatologist, been referred elsewhere or not seen at all.  Patients have been dramatically underserved here, and the recruitment of these two new dermatologists marks the beginning of the long journey to address those patient needs and to build an outstanding academic dermatology program at Queen’s.”

The Hotel Dieu clinics started up the week of March 31, when Yuka Asai began seeing patients.  Recruited from McGill University where she is completing a PhD, Asai brings clinical expertise in dermatology and research interests that include understanding the genetic basis of peanut allergy.  In August, the division will add a second specialist physician/PhD, Mark Kirchoff, to help meet the growing demand for dermatological services at a time when skin cancer rates alone are skyrocketing.

Still in its early days, the new Division will ramp up slowly, he says, which means patients eager for an appointment should not expect to be seen immediately. “We’re facing a decade of need that won’t be solved overnight.  We want to develop the program in a way that doesn’t swamp capacity,” Dr. Archer explains.

Patients will require a referral from their family physician to attend the clinic at Hotel Dieu, which is being equipped with therapeutic phototherapy technology used to treat various skin diseases and conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and skin lymphoma.  At present, the clinic is targeting adults only.

For more information visit the Hotel Dieu website.

Funding strengthens leading-edge research

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Four Queen’s researchers whose projects range from endometrial health to solar energy to animal biology have received over $500,000 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The fund helps institutions attract and retain Canada’s top researchers.

Anne Croy.

“The CFI, through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, has provided us with an excellent mechanism for attracting and retaining top-flight researchers,” says Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss. “As a result of this competition, four Queen’s researchers will receive the funding required to develop their innovative infrastructure to enrich the Queen’s research environment and advance leading-edge research.”

The following researchers have received funding:

Praveen Jain (Electrical and Computer Engineering), $400,000 – Dr. Jain’s research focuses on creating a smart microgrid, a green energy generating unit that is the future of the entire power grid network. The funding will allow Dr. Jain to build an experimental setup that accurately depicts smart microgrid dynamics, technical issues and behaviour.

Anne Croy and Chandrakant Tayade (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), $100,000 – The goals of this research project are to improve the basic understanding of the dynamic biology of the reproductive-aged uterus and apply this information to the protection and health of women and their offspring. The funding will allow the researchers to develop a new core lab.

Frances Bonier (Biology), $80,000 – With an eye on conservation, Dr. Bonier is working to understand the influence of environmental challenges on traits related to survival and reproduction in the songbird population. The funding will be used to purchase high-tech field, lab and computing equipment that will assist in her field studies.

For more information visit the John R. Evans Leader Fund website.

Researcher finds gaps in care for high-risk cancer patients

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

A Queen’s professor has found that chemotherapy before or after surgery for high-risk bladder cancer is not commonly used in routine clinical practice despite the fact that it is shown to improve long-term survival by five per cent.

Christopher Booth (Queen’s Department of Oncology and Kingston General Hospital) is now using those findings to better understand the barriers to using chemotherapy, with the goal of implementing a plan to improve treatment rates.

Christopher Booth.

“Results from our study demonstrate that chemotherapy given after surgery improves patient survival—probably on the same order of magnitude as chemotherapy before surgery,” says Dr. Booth. “Patients having surgery for bladder cancer should have chemotherapy, either before or after surgery. Efforts are needed to improve uptake of this treatment, which appears to be vastly underutilized.”

To investigate, Dr. Booth, a member of the Cancer Research Institute at Queen’s University, examined treatment records of all 2,944 patients who had surgery for high-risk bladder cancer in Ontario between 1994 and 2008.

Use of chemotherapy before surgery remained stable (an average of 4 per cent of patients) over the study period despite international guidelines recommending its use. Despite more limited evidence supporting its use, chemotherapy after surgery increased over time: 16 per cent of patients between 1994 and 1998, 18 per cent between 1999 and 2003, and 22 per cent between 2004 and 2008. Study results showed that use of chemotherapy after surgery improved long-term survival by five per cent.

“The reasons for underutilization of chemotherapy in high-risk bladder cancer are not well understood. This problem is not unique to Ontario and has been identified by researchers in the United States and Europe,” says Dr. Booth. “It likely relates to a complex interaction between physician knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes and patient preferences.

“More work is needed to understand what is driving this gap in care so that interventions to improve treatment delivery may be implemented in Ontario and beyond.”

The findings are published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Students push for exercise prescriptions

Active Easter Egg Hunt hosted by Exercise is Medicine Canada at Queen's

April 16, 11 am - 1 pm

School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (28 Division St.)

Email eim@queensu.ca for info or to register

By Dominique Delmas, Communications Intern

A group of students is working to encourage doctors to prescribe physical activity for the treatment and prevention of disease and illness.

“We want people to recognize how potent of an effect exercise can have on physical and mental health. Research has shown that if exercise is prescribed from your doctor, the likelihood that you’ll try and start a program is much higher,” says Andrea Brennan, co-president of Exercise is Medicine Canada at Queen’s (EIMC @ Queen’s).

Last year, three exercise physiology graduate students came together to establish the club, making Queen’s the first Canadian university to officially join the EIMC task force. Exercise is Medicine is an international campaign to develop resources for primary care physicians and other health care providers to assess and prescribe exercise for patients.

The Queen’s team worked on a pilot project last fall with the introduction of exercise prescription referral resources and forms for Queen’s Health Services. EIMC @ Queen’s is revising the forms and hopes to reinstate them in the near future. EIMC @ Queen’s recently integrated its physician resource guides and exercise prescription referral forms into the Loyalist Family Health Team clinic located in Amherstview.

“We tailor our programs to the specific setting they’re going to be implemented in. For example, we focused on conditions like lower back pain, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes with the Loyalist Family Health Team project, whereas we focus more on mental health with the student population,” says Sara Giovannetti, co-president of EIMC @ Queen’s.

We want people to recognize how potent of an effect exercise can have on physical and mental health.

– Andrea Brennen, Co-President, EIMC @ Queen’s

The club organized a free public lecture last fall by Dr. Steven N. Blair with over 100 community members in attendance. EIMC @ Queen’s collaborates with Dr. Robert Ross, Kinesiology and Health Studies faculty advisor, Dr. Stephen Archer, head of the Queen’s Department of Medicine, and student interest groups such as Student Wellness, Exercise and Athletic Training (SWEAT).

EIMC @ Queen’s will host an active Easter egg hunt on April 16 around campus to encourage students to be active during exam season. Participants from the Kingston community are welcome to register. Please contact eim@queensu.ca to register as an individual or team.

Visit the EIMC @ Queen’s website for more information. 

Members of the Exercise is Medicine Canada at Queen's club. 



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