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. Barry McLellan, President and CEO of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, shares what health research has meant to him, and how it has made a difference in the day-to-day lives of patients. Thank you, Barry, for adding your voice to the HWS conversation.
Who are you?
Name: Dr. Barry McLellan
Organization & Title: President and CEO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
1. What does health research mean to you?
Seeing health research translate to a better quality of life for our patients is one of the most impactful and inspirational things I have seen during my career. Sometimes that impact is immediately visible. When researchers from Sunnybrook and Toronto Western Hospital used MRI-guided, high-intensity ultrasound, they profoundly changed the life of a patient with ‘essential tremor’. The patient went from being unable to hold a cup of water without soaking himself, to drinking the water without spilling a drop. Research breakthroughs can also be a sign of what is to come. Recently, Sunnybrook clinicians achieved a world-first research breakthrough by using focused ultrasound waves to open the the human blood-brain barrier. The future implications are vast for patients living with currently impossible or hard-to-cure illnesses, from brain cancer to certain forms of depression, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
In a hospital setting, care driving inquiry, or practice-based research, is also an exciting realm. Health professionals who directly care for patients and families know what needs to be improved and how best to improve it.
I am proud of Sunnybrook’s commitment to engaging patients in shaping research. The hospital engages patients and families in the development of research proposals, where they can offer insight to the investigative team on how the efforts of a study may benefit or impact care of current or future patients. Sunnybrook’s Burn Centre developed a survey to gauge the challenges faced by family members of burn survivors, helping to determine what questions should help shape a new research study.
For me, health research is about advancing cutting-edge treatments that improve the day-to-day life of our patients, at the same time engaging our patients and families and ensuring we provide opportunities to support the brightest minds in Ontario to continue to do this.
2. How does health research contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario?
Health research is inextricably tied to a healthier, wealthier and smarter Ontario. Advances in treatment cannot help but lead to better care for Ontario’s population, improving quality of life and helping them to live longer. Sunnybrook’s research arm is driven by the overarching goal of making discoveries and delivering these discoveries to patients. With total research funding of $95.8 million for 2014 to 2015, Sunnybrook Research Institute alone has 300 scientists and clinician-scientists, with a 1,212 research staff in total.
In 2015, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario invested $20 million in Sunnybrook Research Institute to help develop and commercialize innovative technologies in image-guided therapeutics. The funding is matched by a $21 million investment from 28 industry partners. This success builds on a $14 million investment in 2012 from FedDev Ontario and private sector partners. The commitment to an “end-to-end” solution cannot help but make Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter. By attracting and supporting the best researchers, CAHO hospitals are helping to fuel a knowledge-based economy. Sunnybrook is proud to play an active role as a CAHO hospital, and in making Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter.
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.