Health and Community Leaders Talk: Debbi M Nicholson

Ontario's health research hospitals make our province healthier, wealthier, and smarter

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,



Related Stories:

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.


Turnstone Biologics: Highlighting how Health Research Makes Ontario Wealthier

Turnstone Biologics scientists

Turnstone Biologics: Highlighting how Health Research Makes Ontario Wealthier

An Ontario biotech start-up, Turnstone Biologics Inc. (Turnstone), has secured $41.4 million in new private investments to continue advancing cancer immunotherapy.

Turnstone was founded in 2015 to advance the development of novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies for cancer. The company’s technology is based on research led by Dr. John Bell (from The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa – pictured middle), Dr. Brian Lichty (from McMaster University – pictured right) and Dr. David Stojdl (from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario [CHEO] and uOttawa – pictured left).

The company’s series B financing is led by new investor OrbiMed, the largest investment firm dedicated to the healthcare sector globally, with participation from new investor F-Prime Capital Partners – both private investors from outside of Ontario.

Turnstone’s financing success highlights the capacity of Ontario’s health research enterprise to draw significant investment into our province, helping to drive Ontario’s knowledge and innovation economy by creating new jobs and bringing new products to market. Turnstone continues to receive support from existing investors FACIT and Versant Ventures, which led the company’s series A financing.

Turnstone’s most advanced product is an oncolytic Maraba virus that is engineered to express melanoma-associated antigen A3 (MAGEA3). This is currently being tested in a clinical trial led by The Ottawa Hospital, sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and funded by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Full results are expected to be released in 2017. Read more about it in this CAHO Catalyst story.

“This financing is incredible validation that we’re on the right track. We all want to be part of a scientific narrative that changes lives, and I believe that our immunotherapy approach is it.” – David Stojdl, senior scientists from CHEO and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.

“We have had tremendous success with our technology so far, but this financial support as a commercial venture is essential in enhancing our ability to bring it to the bedside. We know there is so much potential.” – Brian Lichty, associate professor at McMaster University

“Community support has been and will continue to be crucial for our research. However developing new therapies is extremely costly, so we also need to engage the private sector to take our research to the next level. I want to express my deep gratitude to all the people who have helped get us to this exciting place.” – John Bell, senior scientist, The Ottawa Hospital; professor, University of Ottawa

A Few Facts

  • This is believed to be the largest venture capital (VC) deal in Ottawa since 2013, and the second largest biotech VC deal in Canada in 2016 (data obtained from Invest Ottawa).
  • The top journal Science called cancer immunotherapy the “breakthrough of the year” in 2013.
  • Numerous organizations have supported the research team, including the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, Angels of Hope, BioCanRx, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, CHEO Foundation, Hair Donation Ottawa, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and the Terry Fox Research Institute.

Read more about Turnstone’s financing success:

Related Stories on Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter blog:


Ontario’s 24 research hospitals contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province. Look for other examples on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter website and blog, and join the conversation about why health research matters for Ontario on Twitter, using the hashtag #onHWS.

Health & Community Leaders Talk: Keanin Loomis

Ontario's health research hospitals make our province healthier, wealthier, and smarter

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

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.

Building a SMARTER Ontario: Dr. Janet Rossant’s Story

Building a SMARTER Ontario: Dr. Janet Rossant’s Story

Ontario research hospitals contribute to a smarter Ontario by attracting, training and retaining some of the world’s most highly skilled researchers that help to establish our province as a destination for discovery and research development while building our knowledge-economy. Among these researchers is Dr. Janet Rossant, who proved the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells, in collaboration with Dr. Andras Nagy, in 1993 right here in Ontario.

Continue reading “Building a SMARTER Ontario: Dr. Janet Rossant’s Story”

Research Wrap-Up: CAHO Catalyst Fall 2015

”Without health research, you can’t have clinical trials, and without clinical trials, you can’t improve the health of Ontarians.” – Gretta Hutton’s Mantle Cell Lymphoma is in remission, thanks to a clinical trial at Hamilton Health Sciences.

Research Wrap-Up: CAHO Catalyst Fall 2015

“Without health research, you can’t have clinical trials, and without clinical trials, you can’t improve the health of Ontarians.” – Patient Gretta Hutton’s Mantle Cell Lymphoma is in remission, thanks to a clinical trial at Hamilton Health Sciences. Just one of many inspiring stories in this season’s Fall Catalyst.
Continue reading “Research Wrap-Up: CAHO Catalyst Fall 2015”

Groundbreaking Health Research is Happening Here

Groundbreaking Health Research is Happening Here

Research hospitals play a leading role in Ontario’s knowledge-based economy. To demonstrate the world-class research happening right here in our province, CAHO was delighted to host Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation, Giles Gherson, and Director Allison Barr on a 3-stop Innovation Tour to research labs at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and University Health Network (UHN). Continue reading “Groundbreaking Health Research is Happening Here”

Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Conference Highlights

Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Conference Highlights

THANKS TO YOU our HWS conference was an outstanding success! Now let’s carry the momentum forward

On June 1, 2015, the Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Campaign was launched by CAHO and its membership with a conference at MaRS Discovery District. We were thrilled by the energy, the insight and the momentum that was generated and is continuing in the virtual world.

Continue reading “Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Conference Highlights”

Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter: A Snapshot of Ontario’s Health Research Success

Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter: A Snapshot of Ontario’s Health Research Success

CAHO’s 24 research hospitals are leaders in Ontario’s health care system, and collectively, we make Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter. Our blog series is dedicated to telling stories that showcase the research of our member hospitals across the province, but before we kick things off, we want to share a snapshot of the success we’ve contributed to so far.

Health research pays off
In 2014, CAHO member hospitals invested $1.4 billion in health research—and it paid off and then some. Every $1 dollar spent by research hospitals generated nearly $3 of economic output. The research initiatives at CAHO member hospitals have attracted the attention of industry investment, which accounted for 14% of research funding in 2014—that’s over two times the OCED average for business investment in higher education research and development. By contributing to Ontario’s health research, we have seen new economic growth in the form of jobs, new business opportunities, and marketable innovations.

How does that funding translate?
Health research funding has allowed the 16,400 researchers and staff at CAHO’s 24 member hospitals to make this province a Healthier, Wealthier, and Smarter place to live. For example, research hospitals have made Ontario healthier by discovering better cares, cures and treatments, and by decreasing the delivery time between lab bench and patient bedside to improve quality care. They’ve made Ontario wealthier by introducing 77 new health-tech products to the market in 2014, while stimulating nearly 41,000 jobs, and contributing $3.8 billion to the provincial economy. And they’ve made Ontario smarter by attracting and supporting the brightest and the best researchers and clinicians to deliver health innovations of the future to patients who need it today.