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Two critical care researchers at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton – Dr. Deborah Cook and Dr. Kimberley Lewis – have been awarded multi-million-dollar research grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to lead international, multi-centre trials.

Dr. Deborah Cook, a St. Joe’s critical care physician who was named Canada’s Top Female Scientist in 2022, was awarded an additional $1.9 million towards an $8 million trial re-evaluating the downstream effects of prophylaxis for stress ulcers in 4,800 critically ill patients. This international study is the largest Canadian-led global trial in the history of critical care research. Previously, Dr. Waleed Alhazzani led the pilot study for this trial from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

“The entire St. Joseph’s ICU community is dedicated to high quality, inter-professional patient and family-centered care, and to advancing practice through quality improvement and rigorous clinical research,” said Dr. Cook, who is also the Academic ICU Director at St. Joe’s.

Dr. Kimberley Lewis, also a critical care physician at St. Joe’s, was awarded $3.7 million to conduct an international, multi-centre trial focused on non-invasive ventilation in critically ill patients. The inDEX trial will determine whether the sedative dexmedetomidine reduces the need for intubation in patients with respiratory failure who are otherwise unable to tolerate non-invasive ventilation. A pilot study conducted by Dr. Lewis, which led to the larger inDEX trial, was supported by the Constantine Douketis New Researcher Award in 2021.

The funding announcement was made on Thursday by Filomena Tassi, MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, during a press conference at McMaster University. Tassi was joined by Dr. PJ Devereaux, co-lead of the Pan-Canadian Accelerating Clinical Trials Consortium (ACT).

“Clinical trials are the most informed way of determining whether or not effects exist for drugs and interventions, and they’re a crucial part of how we advance health for Canadians,” said Dr. Devereux. “ACT and its 11 clinical trial units and 28 research networks from across the country will work to ensure that Canadians have access to participate in clinical trials that are relevant to their health.”

Tassi and Devereux announced a $39 million investment to the Accelerating Clinical Trials Consortium. Hosted at the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), a collaborator of The Research Institute of St. Joe’s, ACT will work to build Canada’s clinical trial capacity and will support hundreds of researchers across the country.

In addition to the critical care research projects and ACT funding, three other McMaster project grants were announced. Collectively, researchers across Hamilton were awarded nearly $20 million to advance their work and fund clinical trials. 

“Significant investments like these are further proof that Hamilton is a powerhouse in the health sciences and innovation sector,” said Sarah Howe, executive director of The Research Institute of St. Joe’s. “We’re thrilled to see St. Joe’s researchers leading impactful, multi-centre trials with the support of CIHR.”

 

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