Our Stories

St. Michael’s Hospital celebrates new research and education facilities

Building designed to bring together researchers, educators and clinicians

Toronto, May 5, 2011

St. Michael's Hospital President and CEO Dr. Robert Howard (centre) and lead donors Patrick and Barbara Keenan St. Michael's Hospital President and CEO Dr. Robert Howard (centre) and lead donors Patrick and Barbara Keenan

By Leslie Shepherd

St. Michael’s Hospital today celebrates its new Keenan Research Centre and Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre.

The two centres are among the first in the world – and the only ones in Toronto -- specifically designed to bring together researchers, educators and clinicians to brainstorm ideas across professions and to take best practices and research discoveries to patient bedsides faster.

“Combining research, education and practice creates an incubator or hot-house effect.” said Dr. Robert Howard, president and CEO of St. Michael’s. “All areas are able to function more effectively by being near to one another. The result will be a new culture that improves care by changing how we work together, interact, share ideas, set priorities and deliver results.”

The Keenan Research Centre, named for long-time hospital donors and philanthropists Patrick and Barbara Keenan, will be home to more than 400 research staff and 92 principal investigators working in 110 offices, 234 cubicles and 4,640-feet of state-of-the-art laboratory benches – the length of 2.5 CN Towers.

The centre will house most of the hospital’s research programs and will provide researchers with formal and informal opportunities to spend time with clinicians, educators and other researchers. The centre is focused on a “bench to bedside” research orientation, carrying questions from the patient into the laboratory and then taking the research discoveries from the laboratory back to clinical educators and to patient bedsides.

About half the researchers in the building work on basic and clinical science, such as how cells get injured and how they repair themselves, as well as the molecular and physiological causes of disease such as kidney disease, heart disease and lung failure.

The other half focus on clinical, epidemiological and policy issues. Those in the Centre for Research on Inner City Health conduct research to better understand the linkages between poverty, social exclusion, and poor health. The Centre for Global Health Research focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of premature death in developing countries, specifically on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and chronic diseases.

The Keenan Research Centre, with the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, is part of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. The building was designed by prominent Canadian architect Jack Diamond.

“The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and similar centres of excellence are crucial elements of our government’s science and technology strategy,” said federal Industry Minister Tony Clement. “By combining world-class research with practical training in a hospital facility serving the people of Toronto, the institute will serve as a model for hospitals in Canada and around the world.”

The Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre centralizes the expertise to disseminate knowledge to students, staff, patients and their families. The newly designed health sciences library and patient education programs incorporate leading edge practices and information that will lead to improved patient outcomes.

Each year, St. Michael’s helps to educate the next generation of health-care professionals by placing more than 3,000 students, ranging from medical, nursing and other health-care students, to future planners, administrators and engineers. All of these learners will come together in a new student centre to register, seek advice, address administrative issues and interact with one another. St. Michael’s is a leader in interprofessional education, which promotes collaboration of professions and team training.

The education centre is also home to the FitzGerald Academy, a top choice for University of Toronto medical students, and the Centre for Faculty Development, which teaches the teachers how to teach.

It also includes the Allan Waters’ Family Patient Simulation Centre, an innovative facility that prepares health-care teams for the real-life dramas that happen in the hospital every day. Much like how the aviation industry uses flight simulators to train pilots, health-care professionals use patient simulators to learn first-hand how to care for patients and respond to critical situations. The teaching tools include life-size plastic and latex mannequins that breathe, have a pulse and respond to intravenous medications, CPR, defibrillators and other interventions the same way humans do. The centre can be transformed into a full-size operating room, an intensive care unit or patient ward.

See More of Our Stories in 2011