Brad Wouters
Dr. Brad Wouters, UHN's Executive Vice President of Science and Research, is featured in the opening episode of Season Two of "Behind the Breakthrough." (Photo: UHN)

The podcast all about groundbreaking UHN medical research and the people behind it, is back.

Season Two of "Behind the Breakthrough" starts Tuesday, Oct. 27 with a special edition on the impact COVID-19 has had on UHN Research, featuring a wide-ranging and provocative interview with Dr. Brad Wouters, UHN's Executive Vice President of Science and Research.

Dr. Wouters takes podcast host Christian Cote behind the scenes of how UHN Research dealt with the fallout after a global pandemic was declared in March 2020. From the difficult decision to shut down ongoing research, to being on the brink of more than 1,000 layoffs, he gives a revealing account of how his team weathered the crisis.

"It was an extremely difficult thing to do," says Dr. Wouters. "The financial situation was dire…we couldn't continue to absorb the risk."

Dr. Wouters details weeks of lobbying by UHN leadership to convince the federal government to provide financial assistance to the research community across Canada and help avert layoffs.

By contrast, Dr. Wouters explains how the pandemic spurred UHN's research community to jump into the new and fast moving world of COVID-19 research with now more than 150 projects and trials underway.

Dr. Wouters also takes direct aim at the dangers of political interference in medical research.

"It's very concerning," he says. "Those decisions shouldn't be made by politicians or shouldn't be made through political motivations. They should be driven by the weight of the evidence."

And he speaks to his concern over anti-vaccination influence when a vaccine for the coronavirus is finally discovered.

"We live today with the consequences of that and the anti-vaccine movement and many, many individuals who still fear these false fears around safety of what are very safe and effective vaccines," Dr. Wouters says. "That's what's what I really worry about."

Podcast Research  

The Dr. Wouters COVID-19 special edition on Oct. 27 launches Season Two of "Behind the Breakthrough," which will air every Tuesday and Thursday with an all-star lineup of UHN scientists.

Upcoming episodes include Dr. John Dick and his prodigious research into blood stem cells, Dr. Taufik Valiante's development of an implantable chip that identifies when an epileptic seizure starts – and stops it from happening, and Dr. Stephanie Protze's world-leading research in the development of a pacemaker stem cell.

"Behind the Breakthrough" launched in October 2019 with compelling and intimate interviews featuring UHN's world class research community, including Drs. Heather Ross, Don Weaver and Mathieu Lupien.

The series has built a steady and growing audience of more than 8,000 listeners on it's listening platforms including Podbean Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Play. Season One of the program was recognized by the 2020 Canadian Podcast Awards with nominations for "Outstanding Branded Series" and "Outstanding Science Series." Learn more about Behind the Breakthrough.

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