Health and Community Leaders Talk: Allison Sekuler

By Allison Sekuler, vice-president, research, at Baycrest Health Sciences and Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience (@asek47)

What does health research mean to you?

Health research, specifically aging and brain health research in my role at Baycrest, means discovering the ways in which our brains function, how our brains change with age, and then linking the fundamental mechanisms of neural processing to new innovations that enhance care and add life to years for older adults.

Health research is not an individual endeavour, it’s a team sport. To fully understand aging and brain health, we need to bring together people from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines, each of whom contributes a different perspective and skill set to the problem at hand. One of the most pressing problems to solve in aging and brain health and one that is a focus for me in my new role, is the looming public health crisis in dementia.

Fifty million people around the world live with dementia and that number is expected to grow to 82 million within the next 12 years. In Canada alone, it’s been estimated that over 200 new cases of dementia are diagnosed every day on average, although many people remain undiagnosed, without access to treatment or care. The annual cost of dementia care in Canada has exceeded $10 billion, but the cost to those living with dementia, and to their caregivers and loved ones, is so much greater.  Research addressing the problem of dementia needs to tackle a number of fronts: detection, prevention, and treatment.

The research at Baycrest, in our world-renowned Rotman Research Institute for cognitive neuroscience, covers a broad spectrum, from solving the mysteries of the aging brain to improving evidence-based care practices at the bedside and creating cutting-edge technologies to enhance the aging experience.

Our fundamental research is complemented by the Baycrest-led Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI). CABHI is a first-of-its-kind partnership of healthcare, science, industry and government that provides support to develop, test, and disseminate novel solutions addressing unmet needs in brain health and seniors’ care, and to create a culture of innovation within the long-term care sector.

With CABHI’s support, we are transforming our gold-standard workshops, the Memory and Aging Program and Goal Management Training, into interactive, evidence-based, brain-training products that will be available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. Through these programs, older adults and individuals affected by brain injuries learn how to boost their memory and mental performance, helping them complete everyday tasks. Our researchers also are testing new ideas for early diagnosis and intervention of dementia, and developing approaches to better support caregivers.

As Baycrest celebrates its centennial in 2018, we’re reflecting on how combining care with fundamental research has led to many critical brain health and aging discoveries and looking forward to contributing many more innovations to help people live long and live well.

How does health research contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario?

The aging brain holds many secrets. By working together, we can understand, protect, and enhance brain health throughout our lifetimes. But we can’t do it all alone.

As one of the most research-intensive hospitals in Canada, Baycrest partners with various institutions in Canada and across the globe. With support from the Government of Canada and Brain Canada, we launched Canada’s first cross-institutional memory clinic, which will allow researchers to speed up the pace of dementia research. Baycrest’s Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic is the initial pilot site for the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance (TDRA) database, merging big data and neuroscience, enabling information to be shared across institutions, and bringing researchers closer to discovering effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Our scientists also lead an international team of researchers from 12 sites across three continents developing The Virtual Brain, which combines neuroimaging with the power of artificial intelligence to enhance diagnosis and provide personalized treatments based on brain simulations. Through The Virtual Brain, Baycrest’s and Ontario’s research influence has spread, with more than 10,000 installations of the software around the world. Through our work, Baycrest researchers are dedicated to helping all adults live out their years in comfort and wellness, with a healthy body and mind.


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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.

ARTIC + Quality Standards: Spreading Quality Care

By Dr. Joshua Tepper and Michelle Noble

Earlier this year, Globe and Mail health writer André Picard wrote a column about innovation in health care. “One of the most frustrating traits of the Canadian health-care system is its failure to recognize and embrace success,” he began. “Imagine if we took all our successful local innovations and pilot programs and actually implemented them on a larger scale,” he wrote later.

In Ontario, spreading innovation in health care is not something to be imagined. It is actually taking place.

ARTIC (Adopting Research to Improve Care) is a partnership between Health Quality Ontario and the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO), and is one of the only Canadian programs focused exclusively on accelerating the spread of proven health care.

In the past year alone, ARTIC has improved the health of Ontarians by:

  • Expanding the use of primary care Memory Clinics by supporting the implementation of 17 clinics in rural, remote and underserviced communities across Ontario to improve care for patients with memory problems associated with dementia. They provide training for family medicine teams and professionals, meaning patients can receive appropriate care closer to home.
  • Reducing emergency room visits and improving care and the patient experience for up to 2,000 patients annually with opioid or alcohol addiction by supporting META:PHI (Mentoring, Education, and Clinical Tools for Addiction: Primary Care-Hospital Integration). The program has developed rapid access addiction medicine clinics in seven communities where opioid supports are much needed. They integrate care received in emergency departments and hospitals, primary care and front-line community services, enabling patients to seamlessly transition to a rapid access clinic and then, once stable, to a primary care provider. ARTIC and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care are now supporting the further expansion of the clinics in communities across Ontario.
  • Expanding the use of a proven new tool that provides patients with clear and easy-to-understand instructions to help them manage their care after being discharged from hospital. A report by Ontario’s Avoidable Hospitalization Expert Panel in 2011 found communication of discharge instructions by hospitals to patients was often poor, in part because patients did not understand medical terms or were too stressed at the time of discharge to absorb critical information. Co-developed by patients and health care providers, PODS (Patient Oriented Discharge Summary) is being adopted in 27 hospitals and will benefit approximately 50,000 patients in the first year of its expanded use. If you are interested in adopting PODS at your hospital, contact ARTIC.

ARTIC will continue this important work in 2018. ARTIC has just issued a new call for proposals for high-impact clinical interventions or practice changes that are proven to work and are ready to spread across the province.

What is unique about this year’s call is that proposals are being sought for proven interventions or practice changes that align with Health Quality Ontario quality standards. Quality standards outline for clinicians and patients what quality care looks like and focus on conditions or topics where there are large variations in how care is delivered, or where there are gaps between the care provided in Ontario and the care patients should receive.

Based on the best available evidence, the standards are intended to enable critical conversations between patient and health care professional by providing them with tailored guidance to make them more comfortable and knowledgeable about the relevant condition.

To date, quality standards are been developed for a wide range of conditions including dementia, heavy menstrual bleeding, hip fracture, major depression, palliative care, opioid prescribing for both acute and chronic pain, and for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

To be eligible for ARTIC funding, proposed clinical interventions or practice changes must have already been proven and successfully implemented in at least one site, and must have involved patients and families in the development of the initiative and plans for its future spread. How patients are involved is a key criteria in assessing project proposals.  If you have or know of an intervention that’s ready to be spread across Ontario, we encourage you to apply.

As André Picard noted in his article, too often successful health innovations are piloted at one organization but never spread further. ARTIC is solving that problem by successfully seeding innovative projects in communities across Ontario, thereby providing quality care to patients and families.


Dr. Joshua Tepper is President and CEO of Health Quality Ontario and Michelle Noble is the Executive Director of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario.


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Health and Community Leaders Talk: Ted Scott

For this Health and Community Leaders Talk blog post, we’re focusing on the value of Ontario’s Innovation Brokers. Supported by a task force of executive leaders from across Ontario’s research hospitals, the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) began its work as an Innovation Broker in April 2017, in partnership with the Ontario Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS).

CAHO’s Innovation Broker task force is co-chaired by Ted Scott, Acting Vice President Research & Chief Innovation Officer at Hamilton Health Sciences. We sat down with Ted to get his take on why the Innovation Broker work is important, and how it makes Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter.

What inspired you to be involved with CAHO’s work as an Innovation Broker?

In my role as Chief Innovation Officer at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), I am helping to create a culture of collaboration and working to connect our clinical experts and scientists to high potential digital health companies to develop innovative clinical care models. My work at HHS is really well aligned to the Innovation Broker mandate and I’m excited to help make it easier for companies to get their innovations into Ontario’s research hospitals. At the end of the day, this will improve care and make our health system more efficient for our patients.

What’s in it for innovators?

The CAHO Innovation Broker work provides new opportunities for companies and research hospitals to work together to develop solutions and drive innovation adoption across the province. It also provides companies with stronger and more meaningful feedback on their innovations, allowing them to iterate and develop more relevant and marketable products.

At a larger scale, CAHO’s Innovation Broker work is helping to grow a culture of innovation within Ontario’s research hospitals and developing better processes to pull innovations into our organizations. We know that one of the toughest barriers companies face on the long path to market is connecting with those early adopters who are willing to test-drive innovations that will lead to better care. Through our Innovation Broker role, companies only have to knock on one door to gain access to Ontario’s 23 research hospitals, making those first connections a lot faster and easier.

Our hope is that this not only makes it easier for innovators to partner with us today, but that we’re building a better system and better partnerships to improve innovation adoption long into the future.

How can Ontario’s Innovation Broker work help fuel a healthier, wealthier, smarter province?

The Innovation Broker work is really about re-thinking how we deliver healthcare. By providing a streamlined and transparent process for connecting healthcare providers and innovative companies, we will be able to do a better job of providing care and drive economic growth at the same time. Collectively, Ontario’s Innovation Brokers are working to deliver a healthcare system powered by our world-leading research community in collaboration with our most promising industry partners. A more innovative health system is definitely a future we can all work towards.

  • Visit the CAHO website to learn more about our Innovation Broker work and how you can be involved.
  • Visit the OCHIS website to learn more about Ontario’s Innovation Brokers.


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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.

Health and Community Leaders Talk: David Hill

By David Hill, Scientific Director, Lawson Health Research Institute and Integrated Vice President of Research for London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London

Dr David Hill Lawson Health Research Institute

What does health research mean to you?

Health research means delivering the best health care by pushing the boundaries of science. It’s about understanding the basis of wellness and the dysfunctions of the body and mind that result in disease. At Lawson, our research expands the full continuum of life and mirrors the clinical areas at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London. We make it our mission to test and deliver health care innovations for the benefit of patients in our community, in Ontario and beyond.

Health research also drives the future of health care—looking not just at where we are now but where we could be in ten or fifteen years. Ontario’s research hospitals bridge the gap between today’s discoveries and the next generation of health service and delivery. Where we could be won’t happen by chance. It will be the result of hospital-based research.

Read more: Behind the scenes at Lawson

How does health research contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario?

Healthier: Health research makes our patients healthier as the discovery of new treatments leads to improved health outcomes and a higher quality of life.  At Lawson, we take a “bedside to bench to bedside” approach. Our researchers focus their efforts on figuring out the clinical problem, and then take that back to the lab to develop new knowledge that can be translated directly to better patient care. At Lawson we built our strategic plan around precisely identified clinical problems and their resolution through inter-disciplinary research.

Wealthier: Health research is good for the economy as our researchers work to discover new ways to drive efficiency and reduce costs; find new methods of service delivery; improve procedures,; and create entirely new ones, like specialized molecular imaging techniques. We’re also commercializing our innovations through WORLDiscoveries®. Born out of a partnership between Lawson, Robarts Research Institute and Western University, WORLDiscoveries® is the business development arm of London’s extensive research network and the bridge between local invention and global industry.

Smarter: Health Research makes our communities smarter by attracting the best and brightest health care professionals. We’re seeing this at Lawson as we continue to grow our reputation as a leader in the life sciences sector, with over 1,500 principal investigators, research support staff, students and trainees. This growth feeds on itself, helping us to attract top talent to our city, like Dr. Chris McIntyre, a nephrology researcher who came to Lawson from the UK in 2014.

At Lawson, one thing we believe in strongly is that investment in health research is good for all of us – in London, across Ontario, and in Canada. In today’s tough funding landscape, we must ensure that health research remains a priority for health system leaders, and leaders in the broader community.


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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.

Health and Community Leaders Talk: Karen Michell

By Karen Michell, outgoing Executive Director of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)

Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter: My Reflections on the Value of CAHO Hospitals

For the past eight years as CAHO’s Executive Director, I’ve had the unique privilege of supporting the shared vision of Ontario’s research hospitals. And every day, I continue to be inspired by the significant value and leadership that they bring to our province by working together as a community.

During my first 30 days at CAHO, Dr. Bob Bell, now Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, told me that research is about hope. Over my years here, patients like Tina Ceroni, Gail Bellissimo, and Rick King have made that statement real for me by sharing their own stories of how research has given them hope, and frankly, changed their lives. It has been a true highlight of my time at CAHO to meet and learn from them and other patients, caregivers and families, whose stories have made an indelible mark on my understanding of the value of health research: that it is a necessity, not a luxury.

Read more Patients + Research stories

I’ve often said that my favourite part of this job is to meet the health researchers and scientists who transform the lives of our patients. From the first week on the job to the last, I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to spend time in our member hospitals, often taking tours of the world-class research institutes that they run. I never fail to come away with a sense of awe about the curiosity of the scientists, their perseverance, their keen observance of the micro and the macro, their willingness to allow the unexpected to surprise them, and take them on joyful journeys of discovery. I appreciate the policy-makers and funders who support a research environment that nurtures these scientists and provides a rich training ground for the next generation.

Finally, I have been grateful to the CAHO CEOs for being willing to take risks together. We often talk about the understandably risk-averse nature of health care. And yet I’ve found that the CAHO community is motivated to try new things in order to improve the health care system in Ontario and to make the most and best out of the investments that Ontarians have made in us and our hospitals. I saw this with the creation of the Adopting Research to Improve Care (ARTIC) Program to find ways to get the best research evidence to improve care for patients faster, and through CAHO’s willingness to work together as an Innovation Broker to clear the path into market for health care innovators.  I’m looking forward to watching how CAHO’s Innovation Broker role helps to foster a more innovative culture in health care, and encourage innovators to consider Ontario as a destination of choice.

Sharing these reflections helps me to realize anew that research hospitals truly do make Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter. They do this, not just as part of a smart business plan, but because it is part of their mission and mandate – it is who they are. I’m honoured to have served as the Executive Director of CAHO, and to have had a front-row seat to the excellence and opportunity created for Ontarians by Ontario’s research hospitals.

As I move on from my role at CAHO, I am thrilled to continue supporting this community – and its vision of a Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Ontario – in my new role as Vice President, Strategy at the Sinai Health System.



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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.

Health and Community Leaders Talk: Sheila MacDonald

By Sheila MacDonald, Clinical Manager of the Women’s College Hospital Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC) and Provincial Coordinator of the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care and Treatment Centres (SADVTC)

How does research inform the work you do across Ontario and at the Women’s College Hospital (WCH) Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC)?

In my role as provincial coordinator, I collaborate with the 35 hospital-based sexual assault treatment centres across the province. We partnered with the Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) many years ago because we wanted to make sure that the work we were doing was evidence-based.

Dr. Janice Du Mont, a senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute has provided the leadership in our research initiatives, which has ensured data quality and integrity. In 2003, we carried out a HIV Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) project because patients had started to ask about access to HIV PEP medications after an assault. A research team led by Dr. Mona Loutfy, an HIV expert here at WCH, and Dr. Du Mont, developed, implemented and evaluated an HIV PEP program of care in collaboration with 24 SADVTC programs in Ontario. That resulted in the development of a program of care for HIV PEP with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for the medication.

As a Network, we also worked with Dr. Du Mont to carry out a client evaluation study from 2009 to 2011 to evaluate our services and identify any gaps in our care. Although the clients that do see us express a high degree of satisfaction with services, we wanted to identify any improvements that could be made to services.

Currently, the Network and Dr. Du Mont have several initiatives underway to strengthen the training/education for SADVTC clinicians across the province. One initiative is the first step toward enhancing training for service provision for victims/survivors who identify as transgender. We have an Advisory Committee of experts that is providing leadership and guidance on this project. A second initiative is a collaborative project led by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres to strengthen service delivery for Indigenous persons.

On a population level, why is it important for us to be studying sexual assault and domestic violence?

Violence against women occurs at alarming rates with significant negative impacts on the victims/survivors, their families and the community. We need a better understanding of the impact of violence, and the supports needed to aid in recovery. We also need to work on prevention strategies to reduce violence from happening in the first place. Finally, we need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current system in place that respond to issues of violence including criminal justice system processes, and work collaboratively to improve these systems.

What research are you collaborating on now that could help address these issues?

The ongoing development of evidence-based training for health professionals is really important. Robin Mason, PhD, a scientist at WCRI, and Dr. Du Mont and myself have collaborated on educational initiatives to strengthen clinical expertise by developing curricula at One of the curricula we are working on right now is focused on service provider understanding of the less well-understood responses to sexual assault; for example, why a victim/survivor would contact the perpetrator subsequent to a sexual assault.  In addition to gaining an understanding of such issues, the curriculum will aid service providers in providing appropriate responses to women who have been sexually assaulted.


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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.


Health and Community Leaders Talk: Debbi M Nicholson

By Debbi M Nicholson, President and CEO, Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce

Debbi Nicholson CEO Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce

What does health research mean to you?

When I think of health research, I think of all the noteworthy initiatives being undertaken by organizations like the Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) in the areas of cancer care, heathy ageing, infectious diseases, and northern and indigenous health.  HSNRI has demonstrated that health research is not just about generating knowledge, it is about using research outcomes for action – to guide policy and program development and to find sustainable solutions to the most pressing health challenges faced by its stakeholders.

Health research has led to innovations like new therapies that reduce the need for in-hospital care, new devices that track patient diagnostics in order to prevent catastrophic health events, and more effective drugs that improve our quality of life.  Health research in mining has led to safer workplaces. These are just a few examples of how health research has transformed the quality of our health care system.

As a business association, we believe that to realize the full potential of the health sector, we need to support health research through its various stages, right up to commercialization and adoption.  Collaboration with industry and other partners, embracing leading technologies, and ensuring that research is put in the hands of policy makers, is essential to guarantying health research translates into effective health care action.  The commercialization of research is critical.

How does health research contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario?

Let’s start with healthier: leading-edge research has contributed to pioneering practices in advancing patient care as well as treating illness.  Think about how the discovery of insulin treatment for diabetes and the electric wheelchair – two Canadian discoveries resulting from revolutionary health research – have impacted patient care.  Health research also plays a vital role in prevention and continuous health care quality improvement.

In terms of wealthier and smarter: the figures often reported state that every $1 spent on hospital research generates an estimated $3 in economic output.  When one looks at the impact of heath research here in Sudbury, you can see that job creation, the attraction of top talent from around the world, economic diversification, and innovative partnerships between research institutions, academia and industry, are some of the positive outcomes. All these initiatives will contribute to a wealthier Sudbury and Ontario.  Health research has enhanced our community’s knowledge economy allowing us to compete on an international scale.

Health spending in Ontario consumes nearly half of the provincial budget.  Our health care system is facing a series of challenges including a population that is aging and increasingly suffering from chronic illnesses.  Health research can play an important role in leading partnerships with academia and industry to innovate and find solutions to increase efficiencies and enhance the sustainability of our health care system into the future.   The Sudbury chamber has partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on a year-long health transformation initiative that looks at the challenges facing the health care system and has made recommendations for health care reform.  We have released a series of reports focused on issues such as innovation in health care, supporting the health sciences sectors, and models for collaboration.  These reports can be found at

Feel free to reach out to us at the chamber ( or tweet us @SudburyCofC to share your thoughts on how you think we as a business association can better support health research and the sustainability of the health care sector.

All the best,



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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.


Health & Community Leaders Talk: Paul Kurdyak

By Dr. Paul Kurdyak, Director, Health Outcomes for the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA); Medical Director, Performance Improvement at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

What does health research mean to you?

Health research is a very broad topic, but to me, it means research aimed at finding ways to improve the health and well-being of individuals suffering from medical conditions, including mental illnesses and addictions. The burden of mental illness is high. Patients who are dealing with a physical health issue on top of their mental illness experience greater impact on their ability to function and on their quality of life. In Ontario, we spend billions of dollars on individuals living with combined mental and physical illness, but are not seeing great quality of care or outcomes. This is the worst case scenario – spending a lot of money to achieve poor health outcomes.

We know what needs to be done based on existing evidence, but we fall short on delivering evidence-based care. For example, we know that getting adequate and timely care for young Ontarians being diagnosed for the first time with schizophrenia is critical to achieve good outcomes. Our research shows that many of these young Ontarians are not receiving adequate physician follow-up. Patients with schizophrenia have double the amount of health care costs compared to those who don’t have this condition – and the costs are related to their physical health care in addition to their mental health. Despite these high health care costs, these patients have a shorter life expectancy – by up to 20 years — compared to individuals who don’t have a severe mental illness. This is unacceptable.

The Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA) was established in January 2014 with a six-year mandate, to kick start a transformation in Ontario that will help increase access to quality, integrated mental and physical health care. The MPA is the first of its kind in Canada with this urgent mandate. It is a unique collaboration between The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Trillium Health Partners and the University of Toronto. Currently, the MPA is systematically generating evidence for the best models of integrated care in which to treat Ontarians, which we hope will reduce the burden of cost for patients and for the health system overall.


How does health research contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario?

The best health care policy is based on sound evidence. The MPA is leading the analysis of the impact of integrated care on patient outcomes, with an emphasis on rigorous research methods to determine system-level impact using data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. I am the Director of Health Outcomes for this arm of research under the MPA’s mandate.

Recently, our research discovered that treating psychotic illnesses cost the province of Ontario just under $2.1 billion in 2012, which was about four per cent of the total provincial health budget. We already knew costs for treating psychotic illnesses were high, but what our research now shows is how early patients start incurring long-term care and medical care costs. Patients with psychotic illnesses as young as 46 are in long-term care facilities and are generating high medical care costs, which is about 20 years earlier than the general population. The needs of patients with chronic psychotic illnesses change over time, and those needs become more complex as people age.

The MPA’s new models of clinical care, currently rolling out as pilot initiatives at CAMH, SickKids and Trillium Health Partners, hope to better serve the needs of these patients. These new models of care are backed by innovative new education programs spearheaded by U of T, to train learners and healthcare providers and equip them with the training and tools they need to better care for patients with complex needs.

If we are successful in increasing access to integrated health services for those with severe mental illness, we will be helping Ontarians live longer and healthier lives, with improved quality of life. Moreover, we have demonstrated that we are not getting very good outcomes despite very high costs. We hope to show that providing integrated, high quality health care for individuals with mental illnesses and addictions will improve health outcomes, quality of life, and reduce costs.


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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.

Health & Community Leaders Talk: Dr. Tom Mikkelsen

How Brain-CODE Contributes to a Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Ontario
By Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute

Dr. Tom Mikkelsen OBI

At OBI, it’s our aim to maximize Ontario’s existing research assets and establish our province as a world leader in neuroscience. To help realize this goal, we developed five Integrated Discovery Programs that gather together researchers and clinical sites across the province dealing with specific diseases: epilepsy, cerebral palsy, neurodegenerative disorders, depression, and neurodevelopmental disorders. By connecting some of the best and brightest minds across the province, these programs allow us to address disorders that represent a significant burden to Ontarians, their families and Ontario’s society and economy.

The creation of these programs also resulted in an unprecedented opportunity for Ontario’s neuroscience community—an opportunity to share and maximize the value of neuroscience data in a way that was never-before-possible.

We developed Brain-CODE, an innovative data sharing platform that unites researchers by pooling their expertise and resources to achieve greater impact than they could have achieved in isolation. Brain-CODE manages the collection, sharing, processing and analytics of multidimensional data collected from patients with a variety of brain disorders. By standardizing the data, Brain-CODE maximizes the value of each individual’s participation in research. With the right security and privacy protocols, one person’s data can contribute to insights in an infinite number of studies.

This standardization also enables unprecedented data sharing so that, for example, Alzheimer’s researchers doing clinical studies can share their data with researchers focused on Parkinson’s Disease at a different site on the other side of the province. Here’s an illustration of how Brain-CODE can fuel collaboration:

At Providence Care in Kingston, Dr. Dallas Seitz is conducting a study on Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment as part of OBI’s Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI). Participants of the study undergo a variety of physical and cognitive evaluations and the data is processed, analyzed and stored through Brain-CODE. As soon as Dr. Seitz’s uploads his data, it’s made available to other researchers with access to Brain-CODE.  Down in London at the Lawson Health Research Institute, Dr. Mandar Jog is able to review Dr. Seitz’s data to inform his own research on Parkinson’s disease, potentially giving him new clues, insights or approaches on how to advance his work.

By bringing data together on one easily accessible plain, Brain-CODE shrinks the distance between scientists and provides fertile ground to advance research and accelerate discovery.

Brain-CODE enhances OBI’s initiatives to transform Ontario’s neuroscience research environment, improve brain health, and support Ontario’s economy – in essence, to contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario. The integration of data across disorders will lead to the generation of new hypotheses and open the door to discovering new treatments for patients. In addition, Brain-CODE could produce significant long-term gains by attracting clinical trials, reducing replicated research, and improving patient care. And by encouraging data sharing, Brain-CODE also helps to cultivate a culture of scientific collaboration and discovery in Ontario, helping us to attract the brightest neuroscientists from around the world. In doing all this, it’s our hope that Brain-CODE will help amplify the potential for discovery and make Ontario a world-leader in neuroscience.

Learn more about the Ontario Brain Institute and Brain-CODE at 


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Read more Health and Community Leaders Talk blog posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter site and share your insights on Twitter with the hashtag, #onHWS. To learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter, check out our website and our other blog posts and videos.


Health & Community Leaders Talk: Jim Woodgett

By Jim Woodgett, Director of Research at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, part of Sinai Health System

Jim Woodgett

What does health research mean to you?

Health research is a spectrum, from making new and amazing discoveries through to identifying the best ways to implement best practices in delivery of care. We tend to see the delivery side of the pipe and forget that we have so much more to learn – about our biology, our susceptibilities, what most of our genes do (we are largely still in the dark), how diseases are caused, what might prevent them….  So many questions! Luckily for me in my job, I do get to see the whole pipeline – from new understandings of how worms move (which helps us understand diseases like Parkinson’s), to new therapeutics that we’ve helped develop and may be tested on our patients through to identifying new risk factors and ways to avoid exposures. There is a lot going on but there is always so much more to do. Our scientific ignorance is the biggest gap in achieving better quality of life

How does health research contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario?

The question is really, why Ontario? Why can’t we just let some other country develop better ways to provide care and we can then adopt them? Well, we could and we’d always be a few years behind. We’d never have control (of price, of coverage, of problems specific to Ontario). We’d yearn for our kids to visit as they moved to other parts of the world to make a difference. We’d fondly remember the world-class care we used to receive because the best physicians wanted to train here and improve the outcomes of their patients, here. We’d say goodbye to the burgeoning companies that pop up and grow in Ontario because we have a strong health research sector. We’d also lose our desire to make not only our own lives better, but also the lives of those so much less fortunate than Ontarians. That’s why.


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