Good morning, TeamUHN!

It is a pleasure to connect with you across care, research, and education through this weekly CEO update – all in service of A Healthier World.

Key reminders and updates

  • Last week, the Government of Canada announced $23.6 million in funding to establish an international team – led by UHN – to develop leading-edge regenerative therapies for heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Dr. Michael Laflamme at UHN's McEwen Stem Cell Institute will lead the group's efforts to develop therapies that seek to replace heart tissue damaged by a heart attack or another injury with new heart muscle made from stem cells. "We have reached a pivotal point in the field of regenerative medicine with the convergence of new technologies, significant advances in basic research and recent strides towards clinical application," Dr. Sara Vasconcelos, Senior Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute and co-principal investigator on the project, told UHN News. "This funding will enable the big thinking, sharing of knowledge, and interdisciplinary teams needed to push regenerative therapies for heart disease towards the clinic." The funding is administered through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) Transformation program, which seeks to enable Canadian-led, interdisciplinary research teams to address major challenges, such as overcoming cardiovascular diseases. Learn more about this project and its three complementary experimental strategies on UHN News. Read the news release from the federal government on its support for "high-risk, high-reward" research.
  • UHN's Dr. Trevor Pugh has been awarded a $5-million federal grant to advance brain research. Pugh, a Senior Scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, is leading the “Brain Single Cell Initiative," which will help develop a Canadian national core facility dedicated to making single-cell genomics technologies available to brain researchers. The funding from the Canada Brain Research Fund and Brain Canada was matched by sponsors, donors, and partners. Toronto Members of Parliament Jean Yip and Julie Dzerowicz made the announcement Friday on behalf of federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. Learn more at UHN News.
  • Congratulations to the CenteR for Advancing Neurological Innovation to Application (CRANIA) on building a new 0.5T MRI scanner for CRANIA's Neuromodulation Suite at Toronto Western Hospital. This state-of-the-art scanner – the first of its kind in an Ontario hospital setting – made its debut last week after two years of construction and planning. Its addition to the suite will lead to better diagnoses for neurological disorders and better treatments.
  • The Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network has welcomed a new partner. The Grand River Regional Cancer Care Program recently became the second cancer program in Ontario to join the program, which seeks to have centres work together to share expertise, information, and resources, and enhance access to cancer services. This agreement will mean better access to services, clinical trials, and research for Waterloo Wellington residents, and will see both the Princess Margaret and Grand River leverage their respective strengths and resources to improve cancer care and access. “This partnership will strengthen ties between our two centres and provide streamlined access to clinical trials, advanced molecular testing, and other innovations for patients being seen at the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre," says Dr. Keith Stewart, VP Cancer, UHN, and Director of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Read more at UHN News.
  • Don't miss the International Conference on Aging, Innovation and Rehabilitation (ICAIR) on May 8 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Co-hosted by The KITE Research Institute at UHN and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto, this unique event will bring together top researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs working to improve the lives of those living with the impacts of illness, disability, and aging. Students, academics, and clinicians from across UHN, the U. of T., and more than 20 other universities in Canada, the U.S., and Asia will be participating. Keynote speakers include Princeton University's Dr. Ruha Benjamin, who will explore issues at the nexus of data and democracy, and Zen Koh, co-founder of Fourier Intelligence Group based in Singapore, who will discuss the rehabilitation technology industry's past, present, and future. Visit the conference website to learn more. Register for ICAIR here.
  • More than 1,100 TeamUHN members have already taken the Strategic Plan refresh survey and shared their thoughts on '3 Big Questions' to shape the next stage of UHN's journey. Don't miss out on your chance to weigh in. Visit the survey website or scan the QR code below to get started and be entered into draws for a number of exciting prizes! Questions? Email

Closing Notes

This week is National Hospice Palliative Care Week. This year's theme – "Palliative Care Everywhere" – speaks to how compassionate care that alleviates the suffering of people with life-limiting illnesses can be delivered in any setting, from hospice and hospital to long-term care and home. In UHN's Palliative Care program, physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, spiritual care professionals, social workers, and other interdisciplinary team members work together to prevent and ease suffering and improve the quality of life of those facing significant challenges. They provide exceptional care across Princess Margaret, Toronto General, Toronto Western, Toronto Rehab, and Kensington Hospice. We thank these dedicated professionals for showing that palliative care is about more than the end of someone's life and for putting patients first.

May is Vision Health Month. It's an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary work of our colleagues at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute who provide the highest level of patient care, research, and education in ophthalmology. Vision loss affects people of all ages. Today, more than 5.5 million Canadians live with eye diseases, such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, and this number is expected to double over the next 20 years. Clinicians and scientists at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute work together at the forefront of innovation, conducting cutting-edge research and developing new treatments for blindness and vision loss. A recent paper published by Dr. Michael Reber, Senior Scientist at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, and Dr. Monica Daibert-Nido, Clinician-Investigator at the institute, showed that biofeedback training led to encouraging improvement in visual functions for individuals with homonymous hemianopsia. Read the full study here.

May is also Brain Tumour Awareness Month. An estimated 3,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with brain cancer in 2023, and 2,500 Canadians will die from the disease. It can strike people of all ages, and its impact on both patients and their families can be profound. UHN is a leader in brain tumour care and research and is dedicated to advancing our understanding of this complex disease. The Krembil Brain Institute, at the Toronto Western Hospital, has a renowned surgical neuro-oncology program, which directly links with the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at UHN. Our neurosurgeons can diagnose and provide surgical treatment for patients with brain tumours, while our team members at the Gerry and Nancy Pencer Brain Tumour Centre at the Princess Margaret provide cancer care for patients who don't need surgery. Our interdisciplinary team of specialists – emergency physicians, neurosurgeons, primary care nursing, specialized nurses, Allied Health professionals, and specialists – ensures the best possible care for patients. In conjunction with our world-leading cancer care programs, UHN's dedication to brain tumour research continues to work towards providing patients and families with treatment options. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is looking at using stem-cell-derived therapies to stop glioblastoma growth, one of the most aggressive types of brain cancer. Krembil researchers are working towards using a blood test as a diagnostic tool for certain types of brain cancers and using lasers to treat challenging brain tumours. Learn more about the research by listening to Season 1, episode 5 of the Your Complex Brain podcast, featuring Dr. Gelareh Zadeh.

Don't miss this eye-opening interview with Dr. Michael Seidman, Director of Autopsy at UHN. Pathologists, pathologist assistants, and trainees perform 75 autopsies each year at UHN, and Dr. Seidman has performed hundreds throughout his career. These specialized surgical procedures help clear up mysteries about the mechanism of a patient's death and contribute to learning and research. Autopsies can also provide closure for the families and loved ones of deceased patients. "Unanswered questions can cause significant anxiety and answering some of those questions is part of patient care," he said. Read the full interview, which includes some fun facts that may surprise you about autopsies.

Michener's virtual Student Awards Ceremony will take place online at 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 4 th.This ceremony is a perfect opportunity to celebrate Michener students' incredible achievements in their programs and their dedication to healthcare. The event link will be posted on There is always an opportunity to donate to Michener's student bursaries. Just visit this page to donate.

And now… our video of the week. In this clip, some young friends help us learn more about UHN's Epilepsy Pregnancy clinic at Toronto Western Hospital.


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Have a good week,


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