The present and future of medical research

The present and future of medical research

Queen’s Department of Medicine hosts research innovation tour for Principal Woolf and Provost Bacon.

By Chris Moffatt Armes

September 9, 2016


As construction continues on the Queen’s CardioPulmonary Unit (Q-CPU), Principal Woolf, Provost Bacon and members of the media were invited for an exclusive tour of the new facility. The tour, led by Stephen Archer (Head of the Queen’s Department of Medicine and Director of Q-CPU) and Stephen Vanner (Deputy Head, Medicine and Director of GIDRU), provided a snapshot of both the Department’s most recent enterprise (Q-CPU) and an example of a successful, long-standing research unit (GIDRU).

The morning began with a tour of the 8,000 square-foot Q-CPU facility, led by Dr. Archer.  Q-CPU will provide state-of-the-art research and clinical space to support investigators from basic, clinical and population health sciences departments in developing, testing and commercializing new therapies and treatments for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

“I think what we all find so exciting about Q-CPU is that it will be a home for research at a level that ranges from basic scientific investigation all the way up to patients in clinical trials,” says Dr. Archer. “This collaborative multi-disciplinary research approach will allow us to better understand diseases in patients, figure out basic mechanisms, develop new treatments and test them in patients as part of a chain of discovery that we refer to as translational medicine.”

In a unique partnership with Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital, Q-CPU will provide a new home for this patient-centred translational medicine approach.

Dr. Archer discussed the role Q-CPU will play as part of the future Translational Institute of Medicine (TIME) – a proposed confederation of existing research groups in the Department, including internal and external partners.  The vision of TIME includes enhancing collaborations to catalyze research through optimized use of shared expertise, equipment and highly qualified personnel. The institute will be recognized nationally and internationally, enabling increased competitiveness for high-level funding, pharmaceutical and donor negotiations.

The tour then continued on to the Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit (GIDRU) – a diverse, multidisciplinary group of clinician scientists led by Dr. Vanner. Researchers Michael Beyak (Medicine/Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) and Elaine Petrof (Medicine/Infectious Diseases) provided a glimpse at their research on how the nervous system interacts with the GI tract and treatments for C. difficile, respectively.  

GIDRU researchers have played a leading role in the recently successful application for a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Strategy for Patient Oriented Research grant. In collaboration with a team of researchers across Canada, this $12.5 million award was one of only five successful applications nation-wide and will fund the largest study of gastrointestinal disease in Canadian history, with 8000 subjects anticipated.

Offering a dedicated research unit, like GIDRU, with high-end technology and specialized staff, enables Queen’s to attract talented and accomplished researchers. Q-CPU hopes to mirror similar research success, a goal that will be supported by the creation of TIME and the future focus on multi-disciplinary collaboration and resource mapping.

Health Sciences