Our UHN programs and services are among the most advanced in the world. We have grouped our physicians, staff, services and resources into 10 medical programs to meet the needs of our patients and help us make the most of our resources.
University Health Network is a health care and medical research organization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made us a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care.
Our 10 medical programs are spread across eight hospital sites – Princess Margaret, Toronto General, Toronto Rehab’s five sites, Toronto Western – as well as our education programs through the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. Learn more about the services, programs and amenities offered at each location.
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Education around rheumatic diseases for undergraduate and postgraduate trainees. Continuing education for other physicians for learning/education issues.
Rheumatology; arthritis; Sjögren syndrome
My translational research laboratory focuses on understanding psoriatic arthritis aetiopathogenesis, with a particular emphasis on untargeted, global discovery of novel biomarkers using high throughput technologies. We have deciphered the proteomes of synovial fluid and skin biopsies from psoriatic disease patients using mass spectrometry and verified promising biomarkers in the serum that can distinguish PsA from psoriasis without PsA. Our focus now is to develop a diagnostic test for PsA using an integrated omics approach. I have also identified promising genetic markers of severe joint damage (arthritis mutilans) in PsA. Ongoing projects include studies on the function of macrophages and neutrophils in the synovial fluid, the serum and skin metabolome as well as the skin microbiome of patients with psoriatic disease.
Psoriatic arthritis; genomics; proteomics; metabolomics; macrophage
The University of Toronto Psoriatric Disease Research Program
My research activities span both clinical and translational research with a focus on Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). In both programs the focus is on outcome measures, prognosis studies, identifying biomarkers for disease susceptibility and expression, with the aim of identifying targets for treatment. These areas required development of specialized clinics for these conditions with standardized data collection forms, web-based databases to track all the information collected, with a connection to the laboratory data. In order to address many of the research questions collaborations with other researchers were facilitated through development of international collaborative groups in both lupus and psoriatic arthritis. Through these collaborations enhanced numbers allowed us to perform genome wide association studies.
Psoriatic arthritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; genetics; biomarkers; epigenetics
Back pain is one of the two top causes of disability according to the Centre for Disease Control. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is the most common spinal inflammatory arthritis causing back pain.
Mission: Our research program will discover and translate important lessons in pathogenesis to improve treatment of AS. We will train HQP with excellence, integrity and passion.
Vision: Our program will be known for discoveries that lead to the development of novel therapeutics and biomarkers that improve the lives of people living with AS.
Goals: Towards a better understanding of AS pathogenesis we will follow our multiple successes using a multipronged approach of in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo studies in animal models and patients.
Arthritis; spondylitis; antigen presentation; immunology; genetics
Dr. Johnson is Director of the Toronto Scleroderma Program. The Toronto Scleroderma Program is a health care network and quaternary referral center which sees approximately 700 patients with the scleroderma spectrum of disorders annually. She actively engages in translational and clinical research with the goals of improving our understanding of this disease, finding better treatments, and improving patients' lives. She conducts clinical trials studying novel therapies for scleroderma. The program provides advanced training to graduate students, international fellows, and allied health professionals who wish to develop expertise in this area.
Internationally, Dr. Johnson leads large multinational studies and holds leadership positions for the American College of Rheumatology. She holds salary awards and grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Scleroderma; systemic sclerosis; clinical epidemiology; clinical trials; Bayesian
Laura Passalent obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto in 1995; completed a Masters of Health Science in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto in 2005, and is a certified Advanced Practitioner in Arthritis Care. Her research focus is on the early identification, rehabilitation and education of the spondyloarthritis population, as well as innovative health services delivery by rehabilitation professionals. She has presented and published on the subjects of early screening and non-pharmacological management for axial spondyloarthritis; extended scope practice of rehabilitation professionals in arthritis care, and access to rehabilitation services.
Arthritis; spondyloarthritis; ankylosing spondylitis; physical therapy; rehabilitation; health services
Sjögren syndrome; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); clinical trials; autoimmunity; rheumatology; fibromyalgia
Dr. Touma is a Clinician- Scientist in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Toronto, and clinical epidemiologist whose research focuses on
Systemic lupus erythematosus; outcomes measurement; cognitive function; patient reported outcomes; health related quality of life
Dr. Urowitz’s research focuses on prognosis studies and therapeutic trials in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). He established a cohort of SLE patients who have been followed prospectively according to a rigorous protocol for up to 50 years. This is one of the largest such databanks in the world with over 2,060 patients. Dr. Urowitz is also Director of the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Registry for Atherosclerosis involving over 1,800 patients from 31 Centres in 11 countries.
These longitudinal registries have resulted in numerous important findings concerning SLE disease course, outcomes and comorbidities.
Dr. Urowitz’s initiatives for future research are to study the heterogeneity of SLE in its clinical presentations, immunologic biomarkers, genetic expression and response to therapy leading to a personalized management approach.
Systemic lupus erythematosus; prognostic studies; phenotyping; outcome measures; therapeutic trials
Our research program is focused upon the Systemic Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases (SARD), which include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Sjögren’s Disease, and Scleroderma. These are severe chronic conditions for which there is no cure and that not infrequently have irreversible organ damage at diagnosis. The overall objective of our work is to identify the key immunologic abnormalities that lead to development of SARD and that dictate their clinical features. To this end we are examining the genetic basis for disease development and the immune changes that accompany the disease onset and subsequent flares of disease. This information is being used to develop novel diagnostic tests and therapies, which will improve the ability of physicians to manage these conditions, potentially preventing organ damage.
Systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases; immunology; genetics; biomarkers