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As the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, the Ottawa Health Research Institute (OHRI) is at the crucial intersection of health care, research and education. Our goal is to conduct world-class research that improves the health of patients at The Ottawa Hospital and beyond, but we also have a key role in recruiting top health care providers to Ottawa, training the next generation of researchers, and partnering with public and private sector organizations to ensure that the benefits of our research are realized by Canadians.

This year we’ve achieved unprecedented success in these goals. We completed the largest heart surgery clinical trial ever and the results changed practice around the world, virtually overnight. We’ve developed novel therapies that are showing promise in early clinical trials and providing hope to thousands. We’ve appointed four outstanding new scientists, trained 400 students and postdoctoral fellows and filed 22 patents. We’ve also brought in $77M worth of external grants and contracts and secured highly prestigious, “once-in-a-generation” funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Research Hospital Fund.

We share these successes with The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, and of course with all of the generous donors who have supported our work through The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. With continued support, we believe we can reach even greater heights in the coming years and make Ottawa a leading international city for health research. While our latest research successes are described in more detail later in this report, we would like to take this opportunity to paint a broader picture of the OHRI today, and where we see ourselves in the next five to 10 years.

OHRI has become one of the top hospital research institutes in Canada

Since it was formed in 2001, the OHRI has grown to become one of the top hospital-based research institutes in Canada. Our hospital, The Ottawa Hospital, now serves more patients than any other in the country and is a leader in providing innovative world-class care.

The OHRI is organized into six research programs focused on cancer, chronic disease, clinical epidemiology, neuroscience, regenerative medicine and vision. At the core of these programs are 104 scientists, all of whom are also professors at the University of Ottawa and many of whom are practicing clinicians at The Ottawa Hospital. We also provide support to about 300 clinicians who conduct research on a part-time basis. We have 225,000 square feet of dedicated basic and clinical research space at the Hospital’s Civic, General and Riverside Campuses.

The OHRI has been able to grow over the last few years, thanks to our success in securing external, peer-reviewed grants from agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI). In the Summer 2007 CIHR competition, for example, we were awarded an amazing 19 research grants, more than any other research institute in Canada. We’ve also received major CFI grants to build state-of-the-art facilities such as the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research and the Kidney Research Centre. Twelve of our scientists hold prestigious Canada Research Chairs and another 25 hold other external salary awards and chairs.

As our grant success has grown, so has our national and international recognition. Our scientists currently lead highly-esteemed organizations such as the Canadian Stem Cell Network, the International Consortium of Stem Cell Networks, the Canadian Stroke Network, the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, the Canadian Cochrane Network and Centre and the International Regulome Consortium.

Most importantly, we’ve achieved unique success in translating our discoveries into new therapies and better health care. We’re developing viruses that selectively destroy cancer cells, stem cell therapies for heart and lung disease, bio-engineered corneas for debilitating blindness and clinical decision rules to streamline care throughout the hospital. Research is progressing quickly and discoveries made today have the potential to transform care and save lives in the near future.

New funding will make Ottawa a leading city for translational research

Our success in translational research has inspired us to do even more. The vast majority of discoveries still never make it into the real world, but we believe we can change this, if we provide our researchers with the tools and support they need.

Two major new research grants have put us well on our way to making this vision a reality. Both were awarded this year through CFI’s highly-competitive Research Hospital Fund Competition.

The first grant, called TIMEx (“Translation of Innovation into Medical Excellence”) is worth $32M and is by far the largest grant ever awarded for health research in Ottawa. The proposal was developed by OHRI, in partnership with The Ottawa Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the University of Ottawa. Of 39 applications submitted, just eight were selected by the international scientific review panel.

The OHRI was also successful in a related CFI / CIHR competition designed specifically for clinical research. Our proposal, called Knowledge Translation (KT) Canada, was ranked #1 in the competition. It will provide $12M for a national OHRI-led KT network, with funds to be shared among several hospitals.

Together, these two grants will support four main construction projects at our General Campus and more than 200 pieces of new equipment. High throughput screening systems will accelerate the development of new therapies and specialized laboratories will allow researchers to manufacture these therapies for early-stage clinical trials. Increased training and support will help researchers design clinical studies, get approval to test new drugs and develop partnerships to ensure that Canadians reap the health and economic benefits of research.

OHRI is thus embarking on a new era of health research. Our successes this year have created tremendous momentum and we hope that this report will inspire you to share in our excitement.

Dr. Duncan Stewart
CEO and Scientific Director, Ottawa Health Research Institute
Vice-President, Research, The Ottawa Hospital
Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa

Jacquelin Holzman
Board Chair, Ottawa Health Research Institute

 

 
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