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Research Prominence

A national honour

Three Queen’s faculty members now invested as Officers of the Order of Canada.

  • Kerry Rowe promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada
    Kerry Rowe, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and former Vice-Principal (Research), is congratulated by Governor General Julie Payette upon being invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. (Photo by Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018)
  • Elizabeth Eisenhauer promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada
    Professor Emerita Elizabeth Eisenhauer, the former director of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, shakes hands with Governor General Julie Payette after being invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. (Photo by Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018)
  • Paul Armstrong promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada
    Governor General Julie Payette congratulates Paul Armstrong, an adjunct professor in the School of Medicine, after he was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. (Photo by Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall. © OSGG, 2018)

The Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, has recognized three Queen’s faculty members for their outstanding contributions to the country. Announced as recipients in January 2018, both Elizabeth Eisenhauer and R. Kerry Rowe were invested as Officers of the Order of Canada this month in Ottawa, while Paul Armstrong received the honour in September.

The Order of Canada is one of the country’s highest civilian honours and it recognizes those who make extraordinary contributions to the nation as exemplified in its motto Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam – “They desire a better country.” Since its creation in 1967, about 7,000 people have received the honour.

According to the Office of the Governor General, the Queen’s faculty members are recipients for the following reasons:

Elizabeth Ann Eisenhauer, O.C. (MD’76, Professor Emerita, Department of Oncology, former Director, NCIC Clinical Trials Group Investigational New Drug Program)

“Elizabeth Eisenhauer is an international leader in clinical cancer research. Professor emerita at Queen’s University and former director of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group Investigational New Drug Program, she has played an influential role in helping shape cancer treatment through key advancements in clinical trials. Notably, she led the design of criteria to evaluate the response of tumours to therapy, and evaluated numerous new drugs now used routinely in cancer treatment. Renowned for her experience and expertise, she has served on numerous international professional and institutional committees, benefiting oncology research worldwide.”

R. Kerry Rowe, O.C. (Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, former Vice-Principal (Research))

“Kerry Rowe is a passionate leader in the safeguarding of Canada’s natural resources. A professor at Queen’s University and a pioneer in geoenvironmental engineering, he is responsible for many of the designs, techniques and materials now used to manage waste disposal in the developed world. His seminal research on landfills has led to critical advancements in protecting land and water from contamination. Renowned for his dedication to the advancement of this field, he has served at the helm of numerous professional societies and institutional committees.”

Paul W. Armstrong, O.C. (Arts’63, MD’66 – Adjunct Professor, Queen’s School of Medicine)

“Paul Armstrong is a pioneering investigative and clinical cardiologist whose work in acute cardiac care has had global reach. A professor at the University of Alberta, he has conducted transformative research in the treatment of acute heart attacks and was instrumental in implementing this pre-hospital treatment in Alberta’s ambulances, which is credited with increasing patient survival rates. He is also recognized for his leadership in health care institutions, including as founding president of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and as director of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre, an international enterprise that conducts global-scale clinical trials in cardiovascular medicine.

For more information on other Order of Canada recipients with Queen’s connections see the Queen's Gazette and the Governor General's website.   

A seniors’ oasis

Unique model of active aging in place expands from Kingston to other parts of Ontario.

[Oasis Wii bowling]
As part of the Oasis Senior Supporting Living program Pearl Larson tries her hand at Wii-bowling, while Norm Fournier and Evelyn Farrar look on. (Supplied Photo)

With an aging population, it is critical that seniors living in the community receive the support they need. It is important that new effective and cost-efficient strategies are developed to help seniors live where they want to live and prosper in their chosen communities.

The Oasis Senior Supporting Living program, is a unique model of active aging-in-place originally developed with a group of seniors living in an apartment building in Kingston. While Oasis has been cherished for many years by members and the many people who work with them, its value and potential has recently been recognized outside the city.

Professors Catherine Donnelly and Vince DePaul from the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University are leading a research project to expand and evaluate the Oasis Model into seven new communities in four cities in Ontario. In this project, they have partnered with the seniors at the original Oasis program at Bowling Green II apartment in Kingston, the Oasis Board of Directors, and researchers at Western University in London, and McMaster University in Hamilton.  

 “The Oasis model is a unique model that’s seniors driven,” says Dr. Donnelly. “Isolation can be a major issue for seniors who are living alone and who may have challenges getting out and about. With Oasis, there is a support system naturally built in to where they are living. Members can connect with others in their familiar space.”

Each Oasis building features an Oasis members committee, a community board of directors and onsite program coordinator. Oasis members drive the program and direct the programming, including communal meals, social activities, and exercise and activity programs. The onsite program coordinator supports all aspects of the program delivery, working with the members. The community board offers oversight and governance support and has been instrumental in supporting Oasis.

All programming occurs in the apartment building where seniors are living ensuring that Oasis brings the services they need to them. Programming includes everything from a Wii bowling league, exercise classes, creative writing workshops, and daily coffee times. Three days a week, catered meals are served to Oasis members in a communal dining space.

“This was a very grassroots, seniors-driven, community-supported idea. The original Oasis building opened about 10 years ago in the Bowling Green II apartment owned and operated by Homestead Landholdings,” says Dr. DePaul. “Homestead has been very supportive from the beginning, including providing space for the program to operate. They continue to be very supportive as we move forward to expand the program to other buildings. We have also received support from another Kingston landlord, CJM, to open an Oasis program in one of their buildings here in the city. It’s these partnerships that are critical.”

The project has been funded through three separate grants from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the Baycrest Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovations, and the Ontario Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. The funds from each grant are being used to support the expansion and evaluation of Oasis into different buildings. The project team includes colleagues from Western University, McMaster University and Queen’s. Work began on this project this past summer and will continue for the next 18 months. Kingston is now preparing to open its second facility.

This new funding will allow this multidisciplinary and multi-community project with new programs being put in place, and the model evaluation with an eye on refining the process and, potentially, bringing new aging in place communities on board.

For more information, visit the website.

New program honours past and present researchers

The Distinguished University Professor program was created to recognize researchers who have made significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s and beyond.

Queen’s University is seeking nominations for a new program celebrating the university’s top internationally-recognized researchers.

The Distinguished University Professor program was created to recognize researchers who have made significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s and beyond. The honorific titles, approved by Queen’s Senate on Sept. 25, are named after past Queen’s community members who have helped make the university a special place.

Distinguished University Professor Advisory Committee
Tom Harris, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science
Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning)
Kim Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research)
Yolande Chan (Professor - Smith School of Business)
John Fisher (Professor - Biomedical and Molecular Sciences)
Carlos Prado (Professor Emeritus - Philosophy)
Tyler Morrison, President, Society of Graduate and Professional Students
Miguel Martinez, President, Alma Mater Society
Chad Gaffield, Professor, University of Ottawa, and President, Royal Society of Canada
Cheryl Misak, University Professor, University of Toronto

The designation as a Distinguished University Professor is the highest research-related honour bestowed by Queen’s. The program is open to all individuals holding a full-time academic appointment at Queen’s.

The honorific titles are named after:

  • Ralph Allen (Fine Art)
  • Allie Vibert ‘Vi’ Douglas (Arts and Science)
  • Stephen Giymah (Arts and Science)
  • George Whalley (Arts and Science)
  • John Freeman (Education)
  • Barrington Batchelor (Engineering)
  • William Ralph Lederman (Law)
  • Patricia Monture-Angus (Law)
  • Elizabeth Smith (Health Sciences)

A brief bio for each is available on the Principal’s Office website.

“The Distinguished University Professor program is an opportunity for the university to celebrate faculty members who have made significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s and to Canadian society today and, through the honorific titles, in the past,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “Personally, I am excited to see this latest chapter in our history unfold and call upon the Queen’s community to participate in the nomination process.”

Queen’s faculty, administrators, staff, students, and retirees can nominate candidates. Successful nominees will then be able to select a preferred honorific name to form part of their title – “Honorific Title” Distinguished University Professor.

The recipients will be recognized each year at convocation.

Nominations are to be submitted to the Distinguished University Professor Advisory Committee, care of the Office of the Provost, by Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. The preferred method is by email to provost@queensu.ca. A hard copy may also be submitted to the Office of the Provost, Suite 353, Richardson Hall, 74 University Ave., Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6.

The committee will then make a recommendation to Principal Woolf on which nominees, if any, should be designated as a Distinguished University Professor.

The advisory committee invites nominations for all who meet the eligibility guidelines. Queen’s University is committed to equity and diversity and welcomes nominations for women, Indigenous/Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, racialized/visible minorities and LGBTQ+ persons.

For further information or questions, contact the Office of the Provost at provost@queensu.ca or 613‑533-6000 ext. 74569.

The terms of reference for the program, and further details about the committee, are available on the Principal’s Office website.

A ‘noteable’ day for Queen’s and Canada

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science Barbara Crow and Professor Jonathan Rose were members of an expert panel that selected Viola Desmond to adorn the new $10 bill.

The new $10 bill, featuring the image of Viola Desmond, entered circulation on Monday, Nov. 19, marking the completion of a project that involved the work of two Queen’s faculty members.

Desmond is the first Canadian woman to be featured on a regularly circulating banknote. She is best known for her refusal to accept racial segregation in a Nova Scotia movie theatre in 1946. She was also an entrepreneur and civil rights activist and over the years, her defiance has resounded with Canadians and was an inspiration for racial equality.

Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, and Jonathan Rose, a professor in the Department of Political Studies, were members of an expert panel in the selection process. Both say this note marks a turning point in Canada’s narrative.

Front and back of $10 bill, featuring Viola Desmond - Bank of Canada photo]
The front of he new $10 bill features an image of Viola Desmond, while the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is on the back. (Bank of Canada) 

“A currency is a public expression of national identity so it’s only appropriate that citizens should have an important role in deciding who should be on it,” Dr. Rose says.

Dr. Crow adds that the appearance of a woman, and importantly a woman of color, on Canada’s $10 bill will have a profound effect on Canadians as a people.

“What I think is incredible about the choice is that all of us can stand up to injustice, and she did. Every single Canadian can stand up,” she says. “The other women (who were considered), they had lots of expertise, deep expertise, in something that not all of us can attain but all of us can stand up to injustice.”

Both Dr. Crow and Dr. Rose say the process was an excellent exercise in altering Canada’s conception of itself, involving wide public consultation, for which Dr. Rose praised Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz (Artsci'78). Dr. Rose says the civic engagement around which woman should be on Canada’s new banknote set a precedent for how meaningful engagement should happen, especially when considering such an important part of Canada’s national identity.

“Of all the projects I have been involved with, this was probably the most exciting and really I felt privileged to be part of it, so it’s nice that Queen’s has had such an important stake in it,” he says.

As a feminist and gender studies scholar, Dr. Crow says that having the conversation about women, and their centrality in Canadian history, spill into workplaces, coffee shops, and schools, is essential to understanding how important standing up to injustice is, something we should all aspire to and can do.

Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson, was the first to make a purchase with the iconic bill in Winnipeg at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, also featured on the new note.

Both Dr. Crow and Dr. Rose say they are excited to see their research contributions touching the hands of Canadians, and look forward to joining Robson very soon in spending their first ‘Desy.’

To learn more about Viola Desmond and the new features of the $10 bill, visit the Bank of Canada website.

Incentives for health

Queen’s Health Policy Council to examine state of preventative medicine in Canada.

Incentives for Health icon

Members of the Queen’s University Health Policy Council (QHPC) will soon gather at the Queen’s School of Policy Studies to discuss how Canada’s medical system increasingly rewards healthcare providers for services to treat illness or injury, at the expense of better-quality preventative medicine.

On Tuesday, Nov. 20, the QHPC will host Queen’s students, academics, and healthcare professionals at Incentives for Health – a series of panel discussions and keynote talks examining this and related issues, including the future of funding, hospital-based care, and health maintenance.

“Evidence suggests that 75 per cent of population health is attributable to social determinants like education, personal and financial security, employment and working conditions, healthy child development, gender, and culture,” says David Walker, Executive Director of the Queen’s School of Policy Studies and QHPC member. “Yet, most of the available funding is directed into healthcare services tailored toward treatment. We want to explore this imbalance and how changes to incentives could affect healthcare productivity, and ultimately improve the health of Canadians.”

Dr. Walker is set to open the day’s discussions with an introduction of the QHPC, its members, and its purpose. Formed in 2016 by several individuals at, or closely associated with, Queen’s, the council set out to discuss, develop, and disseminate useful policy options to both decision-makers and students of health policy.

“The QHPC is a multidisciplinary group that includes many of Canada’s top health policy and medical minds,” says Dr. Walker. “Its breadth of expertise encompasses everything from economics and public health, to emergency and family medicine, veteran’s health, government policy, health administration, and more, well-positioning us to offer comprehensive reviews and recommendations on issues affecting the Canadian healthcare system.”

Numerous Queen’s experts sit on the QHPC with Dr. Walker, including:

  • Don Drummond (Policy Studies)
  • Ian Gilron (Biomedical & Molecular Sciences)
  • Michael Green (Family Medicine)
  • Kieran Moore (Family Medicine; KFLA Medical Officer of Health)
  • John Muscedere (Critical Care Medicine; President, Canadian Frailty Network)
  • David Pedlar (Rehabilitation Therapy)
  • Richard Reznick (Dean, Health Sciences)
  • Chris Simpson (Vice-Dean, Medicine)
  • Duncan Sinclair (Dean emeritus, Faculty of Arts and Science, Medicine)
  • Ruth Wilson (Family Medicine)

The council also includes representatives from medical organizations, government funding agencies, public health organizations and others. Many QHPC members have contributed significantly to health policy development, with far-reaching impacts on health services restructuring, primary care reform, provincial healthcare strategy, and medical leadership.

“Health reform in Canada is an intricate task with a lot of moving parts,” says Dr. Walker. “Through collaborations like the QHPC, we can create a visible and respected forum for health policy discussion, and seek to advance our knowledge, learning, and implementation of strategies that will continue to improve the overall health of our communities.”

You can learn more about the QHPC’s work by visiting the website, and about some of their policy positions on the Queen’s Policy Blog.

Update (10 am, Nov. 19, 2018): Registration for Incentives for Health is now closed, as all seats have been filled.

The Conversation: How the opioid crisis is disrupting hospital care

Canadian hospitals are ill-equipped to deal with the inpatient opioid crisis. Lack of specialist addictions care puts patients and staff at risk.

New York Ambulances
Few medical schools offer training in addictions medicine and most doctors feel they lack the specialist expertise to deal with the inpatient opioid crisis. (Photo by Benjamin Voros/Unsplash)


“… there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon…”

In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World, citizens are trapped in a chemically induced state of docility and compliance. Their fictional drug of choice: Soma. Throughout North America and in some parts of Europe today, people are rendered into a diminished state (and killed) by an all too real version of soma: Opioids.

The misuse of these powerful narcotics is leading to an epidemic of addiction and death. As doctors and researchers, we want to highlight an often overlooked face of this epidemic — its emergence as a major disruptor within Canada’s hospitals.

Images of paramedics resuscitating people who have overdosed on the street are common within the news media. But the face of the inpatient opioid crisis is equally sinister and must be addressed simultaneously.

Some hospitalized patients are engaging in extreme behaviours — violence toward staff and other patients, theft and other antisocial actions — that disrupt the care of others and put patients and staff at risk.

We are initiating a program at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) called START (The Substance Treatment and Rehabilitation Team). Programs like START can perhaps better handle the inpatient crisis using a dedicated multidisciplinary team of practitioners.

Specialists from addictions, family, emergency and internal medicine, along with those from psychiatry, anaesthesia, social work, public health and nursing, work together — to competently manage care of patients with substance abuse disorders and coordinate care with outpatient services.

A growing epidemic

Let’s start with one person’s story. Crystal was a 29-year old patient who was frequently admitted to hospital due to her diabetes and its complications (kidney failure, blindness). She was prescribed opiates to relieve her pain but over time became dependent on them.

Crystal required dialysis and had multiple bouts of sepsis, a serious full-body infection. Her pain was poorly controlled and we believe she lost hope. She was found dead in her hospital bed after self-administering a lethal dose of narcotics.

Unfortunately this story is not unique or even unusual anymore. Opioids are responsible for one in six deaths of young adults aged 24 to 35 in Ontario. Almost 4,000 people died in Canada in 2017 from opioid-related causes. And in the United States, accidental overdoses now claim more lives than car crashes.

Despite public attention, this number continues to grow. The problem is prevalent across the country. Rural and mid-size communities are affected as well as big cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

Patients create a street supply

The causes are complex but doctors over-prescribing opiates and the emergence of new potent forms of “street” opiates have contributed to the crisis. Drugs laced with the potent opioid fentanyl, smuggled from China, often cause sudden death due to a complete cessation of breathing.

Over-prescription of opioids by doctors fuels addictions in people that drives them to use these dangerous street drugs. Diversion of prescription drugs and theft or misappropriation of drugs from pharmacies creates a supply of narcotics on the street. More than half a million prescription drugs, mostly opioids, are stolen from pharmacies each year.

Within hospitals, patients addicted to substances — notably but not exclusively opioids — are often involved in this drug theft and diversion. Diversion means they move their own prescription narcotics prescribed to the street, often selling them right on hospital grounds.

It’s estimated that one third of all opioids on Canada’s streets result from diversion of prescription drugs. Greed allows these diverted drugs to be laced with fentanyl (which is cheap and powerful) by criminals, and people are dying.

While many patients who come to hospital are addicted, health-care providers feel inadequately trained to deal with them. Indeed the medical profession has been slow to recognize that there is a direct relationship between our rate of opioid prescriptions and mortality, even after adjusting for predictors of adverse outcomes, such as age.

The overuse of prescription narcotics is not accidental but reflects cynical marketing by certain pharmaceutical companies, notably Purdue Pharma, that claimed potent opioids like oxycontin were “less addictive.”

Canadian doctors have been slow to recognize this sinister side of pharmaceutical hype.

Addictions specialists are needed

Treating patients’ complications from their addictions, while neglecting the root of their problems, is frustrating for clinicians and often feels futile.

At the Kingston Health Sciences Centre, we address this issue by working with community partners such as Street Health to offer education and support to staff so they can better understand patients who suffer from addictions. KHSC is also looking at ways to provide additional funding and a more coordinated approach to address addictions.

The START team recently surveyed our hospital’s doctors and health-care professionals. For one month they collected reports of inpatient encounters where a substance-use problem was suspected (124 unique patients).

In 87 per cent of the reported cases, the physician felt managing the addiction was not within their scope of practice. In 98 per cent of cases, they felt the patient would benefit from an addictions specialist consultation.

Further complicating matters is that few medical schools offer training in addictions medicine, leaving a significant unmet societal need.

START’s goals include facilitating transitions of care from inpatient to outpatient, connecting patients with community treatment programs, providing specialized and consistent inpatient care plans including pain and withdrawal management, methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone treatment when appropriate and educating hospital staff and medical students.

These are all missing pieces from our current response to the unfolding crisis.

What has happened since Crystal’s death? At least two more patients have died from accidental overdoses in our hospital.The Conversation


This column was written by Stephen Archer, Professor, Head of Department of Medicine; Chris Smith, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division Head, General Internal Medicine, and Raistlin Majere, General Internal Medicine Physician, Queen's University

This article was originally published on The Conversation, which provides news and views from the academic and research community. Queen’s University is a founding partner. Queen's researchers, faculty, and students are regular contributors.

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

Igniting curiosity

First edition of the IGnite: Inspiring Generations through Research short talk series launches Nov. 15 at The Isabel.

First edition of the IGnite: Inspiring Generations through Research short talk series launches Nov. 15 at The Isabel.

The IGnite series will demonstrate that you do not need a PhD to understand a lecture on particle astrophysics. As part of an exciting new research promotion initiative, two Queen’s researchers from completely different fields will discuss, in one hour, some of the universe’s deepest mysteries and greatest miracles.

The IGnite: Inspiring Generations through Research series is a collaboration between the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and the Office of Vice-Principal (University Relations) at Queen’s. While each event will feature two researchers from different fields discussing their projects and research experiences, events will also include interactive demonstrations and poster presentations from students and additional researchers.

Promising fun with an academic twist, the lecture series will launch Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Assistant Professor Ken Clark (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy)

IGnite aims to showcase the diversity of research happening across campus at Queen’s and beyond,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “It also offers an opportunity for researchers to actively communicate and share their innovative and ground-breaking work with the public.”

At the inaugural event, Jacalyn Duffin, Professor Emerita (School of Medicine, Faculty of Education, Departments of Philosophy and History), will explore the history of medical miracles, including her role in the canonization of the first Canadian-born saint. Dr. Duffin is the former holder of the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine and is both a hematologist and a historian, and will be inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2019.

The second speaker, Ken Clark (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy), will explore the mysteries of dark matter and neutrinos, highlighting his work at SNOLAB in Sudbury and IceCube in Antarctica. Dr. Clark is an assistant professor of particle astrophysics, collaborating closely on experimental projects such as PICO, which uses bubble chambers to search for galactic dark matter.

Professor Emerita Jacalyn Duffin (School of Medicine, Faculty of Education, Departments of Philosophy and History)

Both researchers’ projects reveal aspects of our world that few people ever directly encounter. Dr. Duffin will incorporate insights from her time researching in the Vatican Secret Archives, while Dr. Clark will explain that in order to understand some of the world’s smallest particles, called neutrinos, he has had to travel to some of the deepest and remotest locations on Earth. 

“Research only works by making their results known, not just to other scientists but also to the public. So, it is imperative that we share our findings with those whom support us,” says Tony Noble, Scientific Director of the McDonald Institute. “But more importantly, these public events give researchers an opportunity to inspire future researchers and future policy-makers, and illustrate the importance of research and fundamental science in impacting everyday lives.”

The first event (one of a three-part series for the 2018-2019 academic year) is Thursday, Nov. 15, 7-9:30 pm, at The Isabel. Registration is free on Eventbrite and light refreshments will be served.

For more information on the series, see the McDonald Institute’s website.  

Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds competition now open

The next Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) competition has been launched. Open to Queen’s researchers and scholars, the QROF provides funding to accelerate their programs and achieve research goals, and offers opportunities to leverage external funding to build on areas of institutional research strength.

“The QROF represents our most significant internal investment in supporting research excellence at Queen’s,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Since its inception, QROF has supported a broad range of projects, spanning all disciplines, and also enables our researchers and scholars to expand external partnerships.”

The QROF is comprised 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.

Letters of intent are now being accepted for the Research Leaders’ and International Funds (deadline Saturday, Dec. 15), and successful candidates will be invited to submit full applications. Application forms are also available for those interested in applying to the Arts (deadline Friday, March 1) and Post-Doctoral (deadline Wednesday, Jan. 30) funds. Information on each of the funds and the application process can be found on the Vice-Principal (Research) website. For more information, email ferrism@queensu.ca.

In the 2017-18 competition, 17 Queen’s faculty members received funding under the QROF program, which were previously highlighted in the Gazette.

A dangerous trend

Research from Queen’s University shows major traumatic injury increases risk of mental health disorders, including suicide.

A new study headed by Queen’s University researcher Dr. Chris Evans has revealed people who experience major injuries requiring hospitalization, such as those caused by car crashes and falls, have a much higher risk of being admitted to hospital for mental health disorders. Results showed that this group is at a higher risk of suicide as well.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), and supported by data from the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences Queen’s.

“Major trauma was associated with a 40 per cent increased rate of hospital admission for one or more mental health diagnoses,” says Dr. Evans (Emergency Medicine). “The most common mental health diagnoses were alcohol abuse, other drug abuse disorders, and major depressive disorders.”

According to Dr. Evans, there is a lack of evidence on the link between major injury and later mental health issues. This large study, based on more than 19,000 patients in Ontario, contributes to the literature on this important topic. The majority of participants who had experienced major trauma were male (70.7 per cent), lived in urban areas (82.6 per cent), and had accidental injuries (89 per cent) rather than intentional.

These factors along with low socioeconomic status, location, and surgical treatment for these injuries were associated with higher admissions for mental health issues. Researchers found that children and youth under 18 years of age had the largest increase in admissions for one or more mental health issues after injury. Suicide is also higher in people with major physical injury, with 70 suicides per 100,000 patients per year.

“Patients who suffer major injuries are at significant risk of increased admissions to hospital with mental health diagnoses in the years after their injury and also have high suicide rates during this period,” says Dr. Evans.

The authors urge that mental health supports should be offered to all trauma victims, with special attention to high-risk patients, including children and youth.

Queen’s University researcher Dallas Seitz (Psychiatry) was a co-author on the paper.

For more information visit the CMAJ website.

Research on the brain

Hand-held scanner shows promise for better approaches to brain bleeds in the elderly.

For frail and elderly individuals, brain bleeds caused by falling are a major health risk. For some, there’s also a risk of misdiagnosis, because the symptoms of a brain bleed (most commonly a subdural hematoma) can be mistaken for age-related conditions such as dementia, neurological disease or medication effects.

Currently, primary care doctors diagnose this traumatic head injury with a CT scan. But not all hospitals have this equipment, so patients must travel to larger health centres, making diagnosis, treatment, and followup difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. For elderly patients with dementia, this process can also be disorienting and frightening.

Dr. D.J. Cook
Queen's University's DJ Cook is testing a new tool that can detect brain bleeds. Photo credit - Kingston Health Sciences Centre

“Imagine if your family doctor or local clinic had a simple, fast way to identify and monitor this kind of injury,” says D.J. Cook, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Queen’s University and a neurosurgeon at Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Now Dr. Cook and a team at KHSC, Providence Care, and Queen’s University are working to make that happen. They’ve partnered with ArcheOptix, a Kingston medical device company, to test the capabilities of a hand-held scanner to rapidly detect bleeding in the brain.

“It’s a very simple, non-invasive imaging tool. You pass it over the head, and it can instantly detect brain bleeds within three centimeters of the surface,” says Dr. Cook.

The portable, radiation-free device helps doctors more quickly detect the presence and severity of bleeding, ensuring patients receive care more quickly. For some patients, it could also reduce the need for repeated CT imaging (and radiation exposure), which currently is a routine part of follow-up care, Dr. Cook says.

Approved for use by Health Canada earlier this year, the NIRD™ Hematoma Detector uses near-infrared spectroscopy to locate and image brain bleeds, and is currently being used in trials in the U.S.

“Our region has a disproportionate number of patients who are elderly and frail or living with other chronic conditions, I thought it would be relevant to conduct this research with the device right here in Kingston,” Dr. Cook says.

With funding from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation, Dr. Cook is now leading two studies into brain bleeds in this population.

In the first study, titled Better Care Closer to Home, doctors will use the device to track two groups of elderly patients.

“Some have had surgery and require post-operative follow up, and others with smaller bleeds are simply being observed to see whether bleeding will increase or dissipate. Right now there is no way to do this except by CT scan,” Dr. Cook says.

“Our neurosurgery catchment lies over an enormous geographical area, encompassing 14 emergency rooms, of which only six have 24-hour access to CT, so patients who need more specialized care have to travel to larger centres like Kingston or Belleville,” Dr. Cook says. “We want to see if this non-invasive test can be used by primary care physicians to track patients’ progress after a bleed, ultimately avoiding extra trips for patients.”

The study will target 50 patients and will deploy an imager in each of Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Providence Care, with three units floating among patient care offices in areas with follow-up imaging. 

The second study, funded by the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation, and in collaboration with Dallas Seitz, Associate Professor and clinician scientist in Geriatric Psychiatry at Queen’s and Providence Care, will screen 30 patients with early and late-stage dementia, with a previous head injury from falling.  

“Over the last five years I’ve seen patients who were thought to have dementia but we later found out through a CT scan or a neurological deficit that they had chronic bleeds, and when we treat the bleed, some of these patients get better,” Dr. Cook says.

His vision is to have family doctors and health care providers in remote areas trained to use the tool, enabling them to do the imaging right in the office, and referring those with positive results for CT scans.

“It leads to more timely care, and gives patients the benefit of follow-up care closer to home,” he says.

The studies are underway and expected to be completed in the spring and summer of 2019.


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