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Better care aim of hospital research partnership between York and Southlake

Better care aim of hospital research partnership between York and Southlake

If you're a patient at Southlake Regional Health Centre, there's now a better chance you'll be part of a research project, wrote the Newmarket Era March 16; the story also appeared on

A partnership between the local hospital and York University will embed leading scientists from the postsecondary institution as researchers to work alongside hospital clinical staff and physicians, Southlake director of research Patrick Clifford said.

Three researchers and one special projects expert will work with staff to help turn ideas into action that could result in improved patient care and results.

The hospital has 225 research projects on the go, but Mr. Clifford hopes having these experts on hand will increase that number significantly as he feels more research needs to be done in the area of clinical care.

With 500 physicians and 3,000 staff, more than half of whom are specialists in a certain field, there are plenty of ideas at Southlake. Access to experienced researchers will allow those ideas to be developed into active research projects that evaluate how change could affect a patient, he added. “It gives the staff who have ideas a person to turn to learn how to translate the idea from their head into a research study,” Mr. Clifford said.

Each of the three research scientists will be at the hospital one to two days per week and have been assigned to specific programs, including cancer and cardiac, mental health and the surgery and chronic disease programs.

Formal meetings and an open-door policy will allow staff and the researchers to interact on a regular basis to collaborate, exchange knowledge and engage each other. The initiative will strengthen Southlake’s transition into a teaching hospital as the knowledge achieved can be passed down to students.

York University doesn’t have a faculty of medicine or a teaching hospital and this opportunity will give the researchers greater access to patients. “The partnership will be beneficial to both parties involved as well as the patients we serve,” Mr. Clifford said.

York professors Chris Ardern, Imogen Coe, Paul Ritvo and Lauren Sergio will be working on-site when the initiative launches next month.

Mr. Ardern is a professor in the school of kinesiology and health science and is focused on research involving epidemiology of physical activity, obesity and cardio metabolic risk.  He is investigating the role of geospatial analysis to improve the surveillance of cardiovascular disease in York Region and is co-investigator on pre-diabetes detection and physical activity intervention and delivery program. He will work with the hospital’s chronic disease department.

Ms Coe, a biology professor, is working to develop more personalized approaches to disease treatment. She works with proteins that transport drugs used in cancer and cardiac care. Her research in Southlake’s cardiac care and oncology programs will examine how these proteins work in each individuals.

Neuroscientist Ms Sergio examines the effects of age, gender, neurological disease and past head injuries on the brain’s control of complex movement.  She will work with clinicians from Southlake’s chronic disease, emergency medicine and surgical programs.

Mr. Ritvo specializes in behaviour and will serve as the research adviser, physical and mental health liaison and special projects scientist. His current research includes electronic health interventions, using cellphones, smartphones and online programs to alter the habits of diabetics and individuals with HIV and mental health issues. He will work with Southlake clinicians to examine how innovative software applications and technology can help patients reduce health risks through healthy exercise, diet and improved medication administration.

Lauren Sergio is also a member of the Centre for Vision Research.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile – York University’s daily e-bulletin.