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With a gift of $90 million, the Rogers Foundation is bringing the promise of precision cardiac health to patients across Canada – and globally – by sustaining, advancing and significantly expanding the reach of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research (TRCHR).
the record $130-million gift in 2014 which established the TRCHR at University Health Network (UHN), the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the University of Toronto (U of T), Tuesday's donation will make an even greater impact in cardiac care by harnessing the ability to treat each person according to their unique genetic, biological, and environmental profiles to better diagnose, correct, predict, and prevent heart failure.
The Rogers Foundation's combined gifts of $220 million to the TRCHR represent one of the most significant philanthropic investments in Canadian history.
"We're proud to support the work of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, which was passionately championed by our late mother, Loretta, from its infancy and reflects her and Ted Rogers' spirit of innovation, ideals, and vision of cutting-edge care for all," says Martha Rogers, chair of the Rogers Foundation. "Today marks the start of an exciting new era in heart health not just for Canadians, but for patients around the globe."
Passionate champions for heart health
"Loretta championed this gift at our Foundation board table when we finalized our new commitment last November," Martha adds "She was proud of and passionate about the accomplishments of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the promise it held going forward to counter the ravages of heart failure and secure better heart health for everyone."
The initial gift in 2014 united the three institutions with a vision to reduce significantly the impact of heart failure in Canada for children, youth and adults alike, with worldwide implications.
In addition to further enabling discovery research, Tuesday's gift – to be matched with $94.2 million in institutional support and fundraising – will help more patients with heart failure to avoid hospitalization, understand the genetic basis of their disease, and receive unique, personalized approaches to heart health.
These advances will reduce instances of heart failure and sudden death while slowing heart failure's progression, setting a new global standard in care.
"In just a few years, the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research has emerged as a model for heart health by following through on our promise of reducing rehospitalizations for heart failure by 50 per cent, among many other landmark accomplishments," says Dr. Mansoor Husain, TRCHR's Executive Director.
"This generous investment from the Rogers Foundation, including the late Loretta Rogers, will not only sustain this impact but allow us to scale across Canada and the world, offering healthcare providers 21st-century tools necessary to prescribe the right treatment for the right patient at the right time in the right place, keep more patients at home, prevent tragic and sudden deaths, and improve overall patient health and well-being."
This second investment by the Rogers Foundation will capitalize on the achievements of the TRCHR's first eight years and ensure its work can continue in perpetuity.
First, building on its successful reduction of rehospitalizations at UHN by 50 per cent, the TRCHR will help prevent heart failure hospitalizations on a global scale. This will involve the enhancement of its Digital Health Platform, including Medly, a proprietary heart failure management program, which enables the rapid assessment and triaging of patients in real time.
The new gift will enhance the Digital Health Platform with cutting-edge wearables, novel sensor-based technologies and artificial intelligence enabled algorithms, creating new systems of care. This program will expand nationally and internationally, beginning with remote, underserved communities as well as children and youth.
Second, the investment will help researchers predict and prevent heart failure by applying artificial intelligence and machine learning analyses to complex patient data, and by building on early genetic and biomarker research to reveal the underlying mechanisms of heart failure and to identify new therapeutic targets for treatment. The TRCHR will expand genomics-based precision diagnosis for heart failure in children, youth and adults, including identification of the genetic causes of cardiomyopathy and congenital heart disease.
Third, the gift will support innovation and education funds to accelerate collaboration on new heart failure care technologies and startups, and to help train the next generation of leaders in cardiac care.
"At SickKids, we envision a future where healthcare is individualized to each child's unique characteristics to provide unprecedented outcomes for our patients and families," says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO. "The Rogers Foundation's generous support will help us move forward with this vision for Precision Child Health and improve cardiac health for children and youth, at SickKids and beyond."
Dr. Kevin Smith, President & CEO at UHN says, "this new Rogers Foundation gift to the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research will have lasting, positive impacts on patients.
"It will drive leading scientific research, cutting-edge technology, timely interventions, machine learning-derived algorithms, and leaps forward in genomic medicine."
U of T President Meric Gertler says, "countless people across Canada and around the globe will benefit from this latest landmark benefaction to the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research.
"On behalf of the University of Toronto, I join our institutional partners in expressing our profound gratitude to the Rogers Foundation, and especially to the late Loretta Rogers, for their continuing vision and transformational generosity."
Addressing a complex global health threat
With many complex causes, heart failure remains one the world's deadliest illnesses, affecting patients across the lifespan and in every demographic group. The high rate of hospitalizations for heart failure presents an additional burden on patients and their families, and on healthcare systems in Canada and worldwide.
One million Canadians suffer various forms of heart failure, and 60,000 are newly diagnosed each year. Canadian heart failure patients experience 1.4 million hospital stays annually, averaging 10 days per stay, a rate that poses an additional burden on hospitals and patients as the system continues responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since its founding in 2014, the TRCHR has made major strides creating an effective, holistic approach to treating this health threat. The TRCHR has reduced re-hospitalizations for heart failure at UHN hospitals by 50 per cent with its at-home patient management technology, Medly, and reduced admissions to hospital from the ER by 25 per cent with a TRCHR-developed heart failure risk-score algorithm.
TRCHR investigators have also been able to identify children at risk for sudden death by discovering a critical new biomarker related to heart failure risk. They have also diagnosed the causal factors of cardiomyopathy in twice as many patients as before the TRCHR began.
This collaborative, groundbreaking work has left an indelible impact on so many patients, including Katie Shea, who, thanks to the work of scientists and clinicians in the TRCHR's Cardiac Genome Clinic, was found to have dilated cardiomyopathy – a genetic form of heart failure.
"I ended up being the first in my family's generation to be diagnosed," Shea says. "I got a call personally from one of the [TRCHR] researchers…the work that's been done since has completely changed my experience and my journey.
"I'm supported and protected, and my family is supported and protected, and you can't repay that.
"I want to thank the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research from the bottom of my heart."