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Congratulations to Dr. Sonya MacParland, Senior Scientist at UHN's Ajmera Transplant Centre and associate professor at the University of Toronto (U of T), for receiving a new grant to launch a regenerative medicine training program.
The program is being led by Dr. Michael Sefton, Scientific Director of Medicine by Design and University Professor at U of T.
Regenerative medicine is a top innovation priority for the government of Canada because it involves strategies for organ and tissue repair and regeneration that could offer a long-lasting therapy for many diseases. Regenerative medicine researchers often use stem cells, which can turn into almost any cell in the human body, to make healthy cells to transplant into a patient.
Dr. MacParland says the Canadian government recognized regenerative medicine's importance because there is an urgent need to get it into the clinic.
"Every year, hundreds of people are dying on the organ transplant waiting list," she says. "Sometimes a transplant is the only treatment available to them.
"We need to get to the point where we have regenerative medicine therapies that replace the need for transplantation."
This need is why Dr. MacParland, along with a group of inter-disciplinary researchers, has helped launch a state-of-the-art new training program, which was announced earlier this month and will be funded by the Canadian government's Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program at $1.6 million over six years.
Dr. MacParland is the Course Director for the Training Program in Regenerative Medicine (TPRM), which for the past 20 years has offered scientific training to graduate students across Canada to complement their graduate programs through educational seminars as well as an annual symposium.
The feedback that Dr. MacParland hears often from TPRM students is that they want more and broader training in regenerative medicine. This new program will give her and other researchers an opportunity to expand TPRM.
Dr. Atul Humar, Director of UHN's Ajmera Transplant Centre and a co-applicant on the grant, says this training program integrates and strengthens existing training partnerships, including one between Medicine by Design and the centre, and will help to foster new opportunities and connections for high potential students.
"We want to create linkages between the clinical side and emerging science and technologies, and also bring multiple disciplines together," says Dr. Humar, who is also a professor in the Department of Medicine at U of T. "The grant will allow us to do exactly that by providing unique training opportunities for talented students across a spectrum of disciplines related to regenerative medicine and transplantation."
Congratulations to Dr. Danielle M. Andrade, Medical Director of the Epilepsy Program at UHN and the Director of the Krembil Brain Institute Epilepsy Genetics Program and professor in the Department of Medicine at U of T, for receiving the 2023 Dravet Award.
Dr. Andrade received the award for her immeasurable work in research and knowledge of Dravet syndrome in adolescents and adults. Dravet syndrome, previously known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), is a rare form of genetically-determined treatment-resistant epilepsy that begins in infancy and progresses into adulthood and can significantly impact individuals throughout their lifetime.
Dr. Andrade is also the Director of the Adult Genetic Epilepsy (AGE) Program at U of T, a pioneer program established to promote care and research in adult genetic epilepsies. She is also the former Chair and now Co-Chair of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Task Force on Child to Adulthood Transition.
Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees of this year's Oncology Nursing Day Awards!
Oncology Nursing Day was established 20 years ago to celebrate the incredible role oncology nurses play in our national health care system. All oncology nurses across UHN provide exceptional care, demonstrate leadership in cancer education and participate in quality and research-based initiatives.
UHN's oncology nurses are trailblazers of oncology care, which knows no boundaries as cancer can affect those across all social groups.
The 20th annual Oncology Nursing Day was celebrated earlier this month with our awards ceremony recognizing oncology nursing excellence at UHN. While there are countless untold stories of oncology nurses impacting the lives of so many UHN cancer patients and their families, this year we had 36 nurses nominated for five awards with 49 interprofessional nominators.
"The Rising Star Oncology Nursing Award" is presented to an oncology nurse who is new to the field of oncology nursing – less than five years since graduating, less than three years in oncology. The recipient of the award is recognized for their contributions to excellence in nursing practice and patient-centered care. This year's recipient is Levine Alveza, 16P – Acute Palliative Care Unit.
"The Michael Kamin Hart Award of Excellence in Adolescent and Young Adults" is presented to a nurse who has made an exceptional impact on the experience and care of adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer. This year's recipient is Kestral Danzmann, 15A – Inpatient Malignant Hematology.
"The 90/10 Professional Development Project Award" provides financial support to a staff nurse to develop and complete a project focused on: developing a nursing practice-based initiative to improve patient/family outcomes or that creates a quality work environment. This year's recipient is Monica Ku – GI Clinics for her project on developing and running a weekly half-day virtual nurse-led smoking cessation clinic.
"The Award of Excellence in Nursing Preceptorship/Mentorship/Teaching Award" is presented to an oncology nurse in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the overall growth, development, and education of nurses and nursing students in oncology through preceptorship, mentorship, or teaching. This year's recipient is Claudia Grande – APNE for Solid Tumour Malignancies (17A/B), Short Stay (18B) and Palliative Care (16P).
"The Rose Dean Essence of Oncology Nursing Award" is presented to an oncology nurse in recognition of an outstanding contribution to nursing within the cancer program aligned with the "best of nursing" themes: the power of the presence of nursing and the importance of truly "being with" patients and colleagues; the use of knowledge in providing excellent practice; and the ability to create and foster an environment that enables nurses to be their best. This year we had two award recipients – Catherine Bergman, Surgical Oncology Unit at TGH 10ES and Jocelyn Brown, CNS in Pain and Palliative Care.
Congratulations to Dr. Azadeh Yadollahi, Senior Scientist at UHN's KITE Research Institute, on her joint initiative with the U of T and Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, which has been awarded a $1.65 million 6-year NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grant to train the next generation of digital health innovators to design for equity.
The NSERC CREATE in Translating Cardiovascular Remote Diagnostic and Monitoring Technologies for Equitable Healthcare (CaRDM Eq) will be led by TRANSFORM HF – an initiative dedicated to supporting digital innovation for equitable access to high-quality heart failure care. CaRDM Eq is the first training program of its kind.
CaRDM Eq is one of only 20 initiatives being funded through the national NSERC CREATE program.
The multidisciplinary team led by Dr. Azadeh Yadollahi is comprised of 10 professors from U of T and McMaster University, spanning engineering, chemistry, public health, and medicine.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of hospitalization in Canada and has become a significant strain on the Canadian health care system. Structurally underserved and isolated populations carry the greatest burden of CVD morbidity and mortality, and face major barriers to accessing high-quality cardiovascular care.
"Digital health innovations can address these barriers, but they must be co-developed and co-implemented through a health equity lens to ensure we aren't exacerbating existing disparities," says Dr. Yadollahi. "CaRDM Eq aims to bridge the digital divide by training innovators to consider a suite of factors as they deliver impactful and equitable solutions."
Congratulations to Fiona O'Neill, Patient Care Coordinator for UHN's Sprott Department of Surgery at Toronto Western Hospital's Operating Room, for receiving the Provincial Donation Champion Award!
As the OR Patient Care Coordinator, Fiona has always been supportive of donor cases. Despite staffing challenges and caseloads, Fiona is always ready to collaborate and find ways to accommodate donor recovery surgeries.
She is always an advocate for organ and tissue donation. Her leadership and positive attitude contributes to the pro-donation atmosphere at Toronto Western Hospital. For these reasons, Ontario Health (Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN)) has chosen to recognize her.
Fiona has been in her role since 2019. Prior to that. she was a perioperative nurse in the OR at TWH after graduating from Queen's University with her Bachelor of Nursing Science in 2015. Fiona completed her Master of Nursing from Athabasca University earlier this year.
Congratulations to Robert Jr Edralin, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Program Coordinator Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) at the Collaborative Academic Practice at Toronto General Hospital, for also receiving the Provincial Donation Champion Award!
RJ, as he is known, received this award for being a consistent advocate for organ and tissue donation following MAID at UHN, since its inception in 2016. He consistently works to ensure all eligible patients are given an opportunity to consider organ and tissue donation as a part of their end-of-life care plan and has almost single-handedly called in all inpatient MAID referrals at UHN.
RJ has also worked on improving processes to support and educate staff as well as elevate organ and tissue donation following MAID throughout the network of MAID coordinators in Ontario. For these reasons, Ontario Health (Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN)) has chosen to recognize him.
R.J joined UHN in 2012 and started his career as a staff nurse on the Nursing Resource Team (TG/TW) and Emergency Department (TW). In 2016, R.J became one of the first nurses in Canada to hold a dedicated MAID nursing position as the inaugural MAID Clinical Care Coordinator at UHN, followed by a promotion in 2021 to his current role as the MAID Clinical Nurse Specialist, for recognition of the Advanced Practice Nursing domains identified within his seasoned experience with complex, organization-wide MAID coordination.
While keeping up-to-date with evolving federal legislation and provincial requirements, R.J continues to build and preserve safe, compassionate, and ethical care at UHN, where he has since provided clinical practice support for MAID provisions on over 40 in-patient units across all hospital sites, including the co-development and navigation of MAID/organ donation pathways for eligible UHN in-patients and out-patients.
R.J is also an active consultant, educator, and guest speaker in both clinical and academic settings, including his recent role as an inaugural Co-Chair for the Ontario MAID Coordinator Community of Practice.
RJ holds a B.Sc. in Nursing and a master's in Nursing from Toronto Metropolitan University, along with a Certificate in Leadership and Management from the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at U of T.