Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Health Research Showcase

Imagine a world…

  • Where a virus is used to cure cancer

  • Where stem cells are used to cure blindness

  • Where medicine is delivered directly into the brain  

These breakthroughs are already underway. Researchers across Ontario’s 24 research hospitals are making discoveries that will truly change and improve millions of lives. They’re driving the future of healthcare, improving patient outcomes and increasing system efficiency, all while cultivating our knowledge-based economy. Collectively, CAHO hospitals help make Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter.

A Live-Tweet Look at Some of Ontario’s Latest Health Research Discoveries

To demonstrate the breadth, depth, and impact of the health research being done across CAHO hospitals, we hosted a showcase at Queen’s Park on March 2, 2016. In the room and on social media, people were buzzing with excitement about the world-class health research on display. Some 20 Members of Provincial Parliament and many of their staff got an inside look at 25 research projects from across Ontario—and so did the #onHWS community on Twitter. Thanks to the 200+ people who joined the conversation during our live-tweet, #onHWS was trending at #4 in Canada!

We were honoured to have Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Research and Innovation, Daiene Vernile, speak about the value of Ontario’s health research enterprise. “Scientific advancement fuels our knowledge economy,” said Ms. Vernile. Our health research showcase demonstrated that fact first hand, and we’ve included just a few highlights here. Want the full impact? We captured the entire showcase on Storify, and encourage you to read through to get a glimpse of the incredible health research happening across Ontario.

Healthier Wealthier Smarter Health Research Showcase   retinal scan     The Ottawa Hospital, BioCanRX oncolytic viral therapy manufacturingHHS palliative careHealthier, Wealthier, Smarter health research showcase


Stay tuned to #onHWS for more research and patient stories from across Ontario, and CAHO member hospitals. To learn more about why health research matters for Ontario and how you can support it, download the Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Policy Platform and check out our other blog posts and videos.

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

Towards a Wealthier City: Impactful, Innovative Health Research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

By Dr. Jack Gauldie, Vice-President Research, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

With a strong history of medical leadership and a legacy of transforming patient care around the world, Hamilton hospitals are transforming the city through innovation, research and scientific discovery.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton was founded in 1890 with a promise and vision to provide compassionate patient care to those who need it most. Since that time, our hospital and research enterprise has evolved to not only make our province healthier and smarter, but also wealthier.

Our affiliation with McMaster University and close relationship with Hamilton Health Sciences has created opportunity for our research to impact the city as a whole through collaborative research that produces innovative diagnostics, treatments and medication. For examples of this kind of impact, watch Building a WEALTHIER Ontario: Hamilton’s Story.

From the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside, health research and patient care go hand-in-hand. Within our institution, researchers have made ground-breaking discoveries in the areas of lung disease, kidney disease, infectious disease and mental health.

As the centre for a number of international clinical trials, the research we do helps keep Canadians healthier – resulting in fewer visits to the emergency department and an improved quality of life.

Developing new treatments for pulmonary fibrosis, asthma and allergies has saved the lives of thousands of Canadians – and has helped thousands more to breathe easier every day. International testing of new treatments for kidney disease has the potential to affect nearly 1.3 million Canadians who suffer from moderate to severe forms of kidney disease.

Working closely with our industry partners presents opportunity to commercialize the research discoveries created within our hospital. From the development of portable devices that can diagnose infectious diseases in only 20 minutes, to the creation of a video game that helps teenagers to recognize the signs and symptoms of psychosis, research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton creates economic change while succeeding in its primary goal of improving patient care.

Innovation has taken many forms. St. Joseph’s Health System has succeeded in developing a new, integrated model of patient care that was successfully tested at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

This pioneering Integrated Comprehensive Care project provides patients with a continuity of care that stretches across each step in the patients’ journey, from hospital to home, and provides a new holistic patient experience for the 21st century. Winning a Canadian leadership award for innovation in improving outcomes, the success of the Integrated Comprehensive Care project has resulted in the province beginning to adopt this model across Ontario.

By working together with our colleagues across Hamilton as well as the patients that we serve, research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton works to make Ontario a healthier, wealthier and smarter place for everyone.

Learn more about research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.


St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is one of Ontario’s 24 research hospitals that contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province. Look for other RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter blog. To learn more about what’s needed to support Ontario’s health research enterprise, download our Policy Platform.


Health & Community Leaders Talk: Keanin Loomis

The HWS campaign is a platform for collaboration. That’s why this blog series is co-authored by community and health leaders from across the province to share their insights on why health research matters for Ontarians and our economy. Keanin Loomis, President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, shares his insights on how Hamilton’s health research sector is collaborating with—and attracting—key business partners to commercialize health products and drive a diversified economy. Thank you, Keanin, for adding your voice to the HWS conversation.

Who are you?

Name: Keanin Loomis
Community: Hamilton
Organization & Title: President and CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Keanin Loomis, President and CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Health Research and Business: Collaborating on a New Economic Future for Hamilton

Known more for our industrial legacy, the Hamilton renaissance is being driven by an economy that, according to the Conference Board of Canada, is this country’s most diversified.

The abundance of intellectual and institutional assets associated with our healthcare and academic partners at Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Health Care, McMaster University and Mohawk College give our economy a strong foundation in the growth industries that are “eds” and “meds”. The combined forces of healthcare and academia in Hamilton has led to a prosperous health research community that’s impacting health on a local and global scale.

While there is downward pressure to control costs, there is upward pressure to embolden Hamilton’s world-class researchers and clinicians to create better innovations that will help improve care while reducing costs. And with the efforts of key leaders in Hamilton’s anchor institutions, an entire network of community stakeholders is being mobilized in support.

There is a strong, and necessary, relationship to be nurtured between Hamilton’s life science research institutions and the local and global businesses that are capable of commercializing their discoveries. Research hospitals and health-focused academic institutions produce scientific and technical knowledge, but they must build partnerships and tap into other resources, like innovation incubators, as they navigate the pathway towards commercialization.

This is happening now in Hamilton. The knowledge infrastructure needed to create health-related ripple effects throughout the Hamilton economy is coming into place. Watch Building a WEALTHIER Ontario: Hamilton’s Story to learn more.

  • Hamilton Health Sciences, employing around 11,000 professionals in Hamilton, is one of the three largest hospital systems in all of Canada. St. Joseph’s isn’t far behind, employing 7,500 professionals in our city.
  • Both institutions, with their formidable clinical trial activity and lab infrastructure, are highly ranked research institutions producing world-class research, in partnership with McMaster University and Mohawk College.
  • All those institutions are working with the Hamilton business community, including the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the City of Hamilton’s Economic Development Department and Innovation Factory, Hamilton’s regional innovation centre, to create the ecosystem necessary to encourage commercialization.
  • The stakeholders are working to create a brand, and then tell our community’s story better to the potential partners and funders needed to fuel commercialization and build channels around the world.

With all these necessary ingredients coming into place, Hamilton’s life sciences sector is poised to create new, sustainable economic and social wealth in our community and beyond while driving the future of health care. That’s how Hamilton is contributing to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province.


Stay tuned on our blog for more Health and Community Leaders Talk posts and share your insights on Twitter with #onHWS. To learn more about why health research matters for Ontario and how you can support it, download the Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Policy Platform and check out our other blog posts and videos.


Building a WEALTHIER Ontario: Hamilton’s Story

As key drivers of Ontario’s knowledge-based economy, research hospitals contribute to a wealthier province by creating innovative, cost-effective products, establishing spin-off companies and partnerships, attracting investment from at home and abroad, and generating high-level jobs.

Across the province, communities are moving towards knowledge-based economies, and Ontario’s research hospitals are helping them get there. To illustrate that transformation, we took a focused look at the city of Hamilton. Traditionally known as Ontario’s steel town, the city has seen significant growth and renewal as a result of its health research sector. And, in the words of Mayor Fred Eisenberger, that growth feeds on itself.

“Once the ball starts rolling, it just doesn’t stop”

In our Wealthier video, Mayor of Hamilton, Fred Eisenberger, explains that the health research sector has led to a spillover effect on the economy—and the community.

The city’s success in health research has led to the growth of its educational institutes. Mohawk is now ranked as one of the top colleges in Ontario with many programs geared towards applied science, and McMaster’s medical school continues to climb on Canada’s top ten list, attracting more and more bright minds. And as Hamilton’s two research hospitals—Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare—continue to create more high-level jobs, the city is able to retain those bright minds and attract new ones.

Outside the walls of health research, the sector is having a spillover effect on the community, generating a vibrant arts scene, lots of cafes and shops, and more people living and working in revitalized neighbourhoods.

The story of Hamilton offers just one example of the impact that research hospitals are having on communities in Ontario. Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, and London can all speak to similar growth and spillover. In ten years, we can only imagine what that spillover will look like for these communities, and for the province of Ontario.

Quick Facts: Ontario’s Research Hospitals

  • Employ 18,000 researchers and research staff
    • That’s more than twice the number employed at Ontario’s research-based pharmaceutical companies
    • That’s half of the number employed at the assembly plants of Ontario’s big 5 automotive companies
  • Support 41,000 jobs across Ontario
  • Invest $1.4B in health research annually
  • Commercialized 350 new health products in the last four years
  • 14% of research investment comes from private industry
  • Every dollar spent on health research generates three dollars of economic output


Discover more about how Ontario’s research hospitals contribute to a wealthier Ontario, and how you can support them, by downloading the Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Policy Platform.

Health and Community Leaders Talk: Minister Reza Moridi

The HWS campaign is a platform for collaboration. That’s why this blog series is co-authored by community and health leaders from across the province to share their insights on why health research matters for Ontarians and our economy. Minister of Research and Innovation, Reza Moridi, spoke at our June 1st Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter conference and campaign launch at MaRS Discovery District (see summary here). In his speech, Minister Moridi spoke of the value that research hospitals bring to Ontario’s innovation engine, saying “research hospitals will foster the economy of tomorrow, while improving our quality of life.” It is our honour to have the Minister offer his full insights on our Health and Community Leaders Talk blog. CAHO and its members thank you for your support, and look forward to cultivating partnerships to continue building a healthier, wealthier, smarter province.

Continue reading “Health and Community Leaders Talk: Minister Reza Moridi”


Exciting translational research at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston is literally mapping a new and groundbreaking way to perform breast cancer surgery that could allow for complete excision of the tumor while improving the cosmetic results of the surgical procedure. A collaborative effort between hospital surgeons and researchers at the Queen’s University School of Computing, this transformative surgical technique and its novel use of GPS-like technology has the potential to significantly improve surgical outcomes.

Mapping out a new technique for breast cancer surgery

Currently, breast tumor surgery uses wire localization, a technique in which a radiologist uses mammography or ultrasound to insert a fine wire into the tumor site. The surgeon then follows the wire to locate and remove the tumor and the rim of tissue around it—called the surgical margin. In cases where the tumor is hard to see and feel, however, obtaining cancer-free surgical margins at the excision site can be a challenge. To ensure no cancer cells remain, surgeons may end up removing excess healthy tissue.

By contrast, the electromagnetic navigation system under study at Hotel Dieu gives the surgeon a clear visual of the targeted area. The system uses ultrasound to map out the breast tumor, generating a 3D model of the tumor site with a virtual surgical margin. It provides real-time tracking information that better equips the surgeon to remove the tumor cleanly and with less healthy surrounding tissue.

“The whole point of this technique is to reduce the incidence of cancer-positive margins,” explains Dr. Jay Engel, Hotel Dieu surgeon and Chair of Surgical Oncology at Queen’s University. “If you get the surgical margins right the first time because you’ve taken a very planned approach, then you reduce the need for further surgery and you also conserve healthy breast tissue.

“If the technique proves effective—and I think it will—then it will make a big difference in breast tumor surgery. It could also be applied to other soft tissue cancer surgery, such as liver surgery, where you need a clear picture of where you’re cutting in relation to the tumor.”

Health science meets computer science

At Hotel Dieu, the breast-conserving surgical technique has been successfully piloted on patients with a single palpable tumor in a study geared to testing the feasibility of using the electromagnetic navigation system in the operating room. In January, Dr. Engel’s research team started clinical trials with patients with non-palpable tumors to prove the benefits of the system compared to conventional methods.

That research team—a hybrid of surgeons and computer scientists—tapped into Queen’s University’s internationally-recognized expertise in image-guided surgery for their project.  Dr. Engel consulted with Dr. Gabor Fitchinger, Cancer Care Ontario Research Chair, and Director, Laboratory for Percutaneous Surgery (The Perk Lab) in Computing Science at Queen’s. Dr. Fitchinger and his team of scientists jumped at the opportunity to find a novel solution for improving positive margin results, describing the innovative navigation system as the “right problem at the right time” for The Perk Lab.

A cost-saving solution for clinical practice

Dr. Engel’s team aims to build an electromagnetic navigation system that will be highly affordable for most hospitals, which translates into better use of health care dollars.  And given its potential for allowing a surgeon to obtain clear margins at the first surgery, the system can reduce the burden on operating rooms by decreasing the need to repeat procedures.

In 2014, the research project won the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology poster competition at the Canadian Surgery Forum in Vancouver, as well as grabbing attention at other national and international conferences.

The project is a testament to translational research, says Dr. Engel, an idea that was once an abstract concept that has now led to potential changes in clinical practice.

“It’s amazing that everyone has been able to get together, see the potential and translate that into a practical solution,” he says.


Hotel Dieu Hospital is one of Ontario’s 24 research hospitals that contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province. Look for other RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter blog. To learn more about what’s needed to support Ontario’s health research enterprise, download our Policy Platform.



Patients + Research #hcsmca Chat

On January 13, CAHO co-hosted a tweet chat with the ever-insightful #hcsmca community. With 130 participants and nearly 2000 tweets, we gained a lot of insight about patient engagement and research. We asked four (and a half) questions on our chat, and received some powerful responses. See examples below, or check out our Storify summary of the conversation here.

  • T1. Why does health research matter to you?
  • T1b. What impact has health research had on your care experience?
  • T2. How can the patient voice support, improve or empower health research?
  • T3. How can social media tools break down barriers between research and patients?
  • T4. What kind of research information are you looking for on social media?

Kathy Kastner #hcsmca #onHWSPat Rich #hcsmca #onHWSChristina Lizaso #hcsmca #onHWSDawn Richards #hcsmca #onHWSAnne Marie Ciccarella #hcsmca #onHWSIsabel Jordan #hcsmca #onHWSFarah Mawani #hcsmca #onHWSChristine Harris #hcsmca #onHWS

What would you have said in response to our questions? If you missed the chat, we encourage you to share your insights using our campaign hashtag, #onHWS.

Thanks to all who joined us on January 13! Stay tuned to #onHWS for more health research news and stories, and follow our new Patients + Research blog right here on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter website. If you’d like to contribute to the Patients + Research blog, email

Patients + Research: Gail Bellissimo

Patients + Research is a platform for patients to discuss their relationship and experience with the research that leads to new cures, cares and treatments. Ontario’s 24 research hospitals are committed to driving best practices for patient co-design of health research. When patients are at the table, the Ontario’s health research enterprise does a better job at making Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter.

Continue reading “Patients + Research: Gail Bellissimo”

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

In the last decade, advances in childhood disability research have led to new opportunities for children and youth with disabilities and their families. Likewise, many Ontario hospitals have recently adopted patient-centred care models to integrate the family voice in meaningful ways. The leadership of this practice at Holland Bloorview has led to an integrated family engagement program to merge the patient perspective across the hospital and the research institute, and inform best practices. A key element in the success of all research conducted in the Bloorview Research Institute is family engagement.

Continue reading “RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital”

Celebrating our Half-Birthday: HWS Still Growing at 6-Month Mark

On June 1, 2015, the Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter campaign was launched by CAHO and its membership with a conference at the MaRS Discovery District. The energy in the room that day has carried through a quiet summer and an unusually warm fall, and we find ourselves at the six-month mark stronger now than ever. Ontario’s health research sector contributes to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province, and we thank you for helping us spread the word!

Continue reading “Celebrating our Half-Birthday: HWS Still Growing at 6-Month Mark”