​Partnership will benefit cancer patients, and drive global impact and research

(L to R) Dr. Mansoor Saleh, the Founding Director of the Aga Khan University's (AKU) Cancer Centre, Dr. Keith Stewart, Vice President Cancer and Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Program at UHN, and Dr. Zul Merali, Founding Director of the AKU's Brain and Mind Institute, made the announcement of their partnership last week. (Photo: UHN)

Leaders from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at UHN and the Aga Khan University in Nairobi (AKU) came together last week to announce a partnership that will benefit cancer patients, and drive global impact and research.

The announcement, which comes following the signing of a memorandum of understanding by leaders from the two institutions, is the latest in the Princess Margaret's Global Cancer Program, which is committed to addressing disparities in cancer treatment within Canada and internationally to improve equity in cancer care.

"International collaborations like this help share best practices in delivery of cancer services, train the next generation of international cancer leaders and support research with global impact," said Dr. Keith Stewart, Vice President Cancer and Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Program at the UHN.

Dr. Mansoor Saleh, the Founding Director of the AKU's Cancer Centre, called it an opportunity to "join hands across dividing lines.

"Together with the Princess Margaret, we can explore a number of areas that will make a big impact on how we treat our patients," said Dr. Saleh, who travelled to Toronto from Nairobi for the announcement. "Together we can make a difference."

Colleagues at the Princess Margaret will also work closely with Dr. Zul Merali, Founding Director of the AKU's Brain and Mind Institute, to research co-morbid conditions such as cancer and mental health.

"Cancer and mental health often go hand in hand and our two institutions can work hand in hand," said Dr. Merali, who also travelled to Toronto.

Dr. Danielle Rodin, Director of the Global Cancer Program at the Princess Margaret, said she looks forward to working with AKU.

"Opportunities to visit and connect with our international partners help us develop a strong foundation for collaborative projects in education, research, and to improve cancer control globally," she said.

One of the first projects flowing out of the partnership is the implementation at the AKU of a Distress Assessment and Response Tool (DART), developed by Dr. Madeline Li at the Princess Margaret.

The tool for cancer patients is an electronic screening tool that supports patients and their care teams understand needs for integrated, inter-professional care. It helps screen cancer patients for symptoms of physical and mental distress, with the goal of improving their treatment. This will be the first time DART is implemented in Africa.

The AKU, a private, not-for-profit institution, has seven hospitals in six countries and is the premier tertiary, teaching and referral healthcare facility in sub-Saharan Africa.

Enjoying the fruits – make that veggies – of their labour

Since 2016, patients and staff at Toronto Rehab's Bickle Centre have tended to a wheelchair accessible garden. Earlier this month, they held their first potluck of the season featuring their crops. (Photos: UHN)

The crew from Toronto Rehab's Bickle Centre garden came together earlier this month to enjoy the first potluck of the season, incorporating greens and herbs from their own garden.

The garden supplied the lettuce, kale, and callaloo, while staff brought toppings such as chopped veggies, nuts, and fruit. A crowd-pleasing Green Goddess salad dressing was made with the garden's cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, rosemary and chives. It was all washed down with a refreshing mint lemonade, which was concocted using fresh-picked peppermint and spearmint leaves.

"Our garden is so meaningful because it provides staff with a peaceful and rewarding oasis, during an otherwise busy day," says Susan Currie, an occupational therapist who leads the Bickle Garden Crew.

"The potluck was an opportunity for us to come together over our lunch hour, enjoy the fruits – or should I say veggies! – of our labour and feast on the bounty of our hard work."

See where it all started for the 2022 season.

New season of Living Transplant podcast

Candice Coghlan, pictured here with her husband and their baby daughter, is the new host of the Living Transplant podcast. (Photo: Courtesy Candice Coghlan)

The Living Transplant podcast from the Ajmera Transplant Centre and the Centre for Living Organ Donation is launching season three with a new host, Candice Coghlan.

Candice, a kidney transplant recipient and the Education & Outreach Coordinator at the Centre for Living Organ Donation, has lived experience as a hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patient.

She received the incredible gift of life when her mother donated a kidney to Candice in 2009. Since then, she has completed a university degree, married, bought a home, and in 2021, became a mother, when her and her husband welcomed a healthy baby girl.

Candice is excited to be diving into the world of transplant in her role at the centre, and to explore transplant in a meaningful way through the podcast.

Each episode Candice is joined by a guest host with lived transplant experience. Together, they will tell the incredible stories of transplant recipients, donors and caregivers. They will interview experts and explore transplantation through the perspective of doctors, frontline staff, researchers, innovators and transplant pioneers.

Season three episodes include topics such as pregnancy post-transplant, when "the call" comes multiple times, how to write about your transplant journey, kidney pancreas transplants, how to cope when things don't go as planned, the effect on caregivers and the journey of multiple organ transplants.

The hosts share many laughs and some tears. The podcast captures the feelings of what it is like to stare death in the face, how to stay positive and how to move forward to celebrate life when you have been given a second chance.

The personal stories are gut wrenching, heartwarming and show the beautiful strength of transplant recipients, donors, caregivers and their medical teams.

To listen to season three of the Living Transplant podcast, visit the Living Transplant podcast page, stream on Apple, Spotify, YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also see promotions and content about the podcast and activities of the Centre for Living Donation on Facebook, @GiveLifeUHN on Instagram and Twitter.

The Innovation Gallery at KITE: a display of integrated care

Mary Lam, Associate, KITE Directorate. (Photo: The KITE Research Institute at UHN)

It's been more than two years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. The announcement and subsequent impact of the unprecedented health emergency upended the lives of billions around the world. It changed the way we work, learn, do business and engage with family and friends.

At the KITE Research Institute at UHN, scientists, staff and research trainees pivoted to remote work in order to continue conducting important research into aging, injury and rehabilitation.

The reduced foot traffic at KITE's downtown Toronto location ended up providing an unexpected opportunity for the leadership team at KITE.

Led by Mary Lam, Associate, KITE Directorate, the team quickly mobilized efforts to overhaul KITE's one-of-a-kind Innovation Gallery. Located in the lobby of Toronto Rehab, University Centre, the gallery features a new look and feel that showcases both products and people. It includes a high-definition video wall and patient education portal.

The Storyworks team sat down with Lam to learn more about the Innovation Gallery, its purpose at KITE and the potential impact on its intended audience.

Q: What do technology and innovation mean to you?

A: "Innovation to me means making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products. When we talk about technology, I think of science or knowledge that's put into practical use to solve problems or invent useful tools.

Q: What excites you most about KITE and being on the KITE team?

A: "I started working at KITE in 2018. We were smaller and fewer in size than we are now. Regarding your question, I would say that I am excited to collaborate with so many wonderful individuals. I first came on board at the same time as our new institute director, Milos Popovic, and seeing all the great things that have been accomplished in the last four years has been really exciting."

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