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Five St. Michael’s researchers receive Canadian Institutes of Health Research awards

Toronto, July 12, 2016

Drs. Tara Kiran, Aisha Lofters, Dan Werb, Darren Yuen and Monika Kastner
(Left to right) Drs. Tara Kiran, Aisha Lofters, Dan Werb, Darren Yuen and Monika Kastner

Five St. Michael’s Hospital scientists were among the 53 successful applicants across Canada in the recent round of salary award competitions from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). In this round, 9.4 per cent of researchers in Canada who were recognized for scientific excellence are with St. Michael’s.

The CIHR New Investigator Award helps outstanding new researchers develop their health research program through a five-year salary support award. The most recent, and final round of the CIHR New Investigator Award program, was highly competitive. Only 38 awards were granted across Canada. Four St. Michael’s scientists received this prestigious award—Drs. Aisha Lofters and Dan Werb, with the Centre for Urban Health Solutions; Dr. Darren Yuen, with the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science; and Dr. Monika Kastner, an affiliate scientist of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

The CIHR also awarded Dr. Tara Kiran, a scientist with the hospital’s Centre for Urban Health Solutions, an Embedded Clinician Researcher Salary Award. Her award is designed for early- and mid-career clinicians who are engaged in research that is critical to advancing health system change in transitions of care between hospital and community. Only 15 of these awards were granted across Canada.

Dr. Kiran received the CIHR Embedded Clinician Researcher Salary Award to work within Health Quality Ontario (HQO) developing a set of quality measures that assess how good the care is for people admitted to hospital and discharged home. Tara’s research program will develop a quality standard that outlines what good care looks like when people are discharged home from hospital; assess the feasibility of systematically collecting and reporting on these measures for hospitals, primary care practices, and home care organizations in Ontario; and conduct a study to evaluate the impact of having HQO publicly report measures and prioritize measures for local quality improvement.

Dr. Lofters received the CIHR New Investigator Award for her research program on “Reducing Cancer Screening Inequalities for Marginalized Populations: Moving from Knowledge to Action.” Dr. Lofter’s research will use innovative methods to tailor cancer screening interventions for marginalized groups; evaluate interventions using rigorous study designs such as randomized trials; and monitor sustained knowledge use through knowledge translation and analyzing provincial-level data.

With his CIHR New Investigator Award, Dr. Werb research program Preventing Injecting by Modifying Existing Responses (PRIMER) will determine how often people who inject drugs initiate others into injecting; assess factors potentially influencing the risk of this initiation; investigate drug scene roles that increase the risk that people who inject drugs might initiate others into injecting; and test the impact of an existing structural or biomedical intervention on the risk that people who inject drugs will initiate others into injecting. Learn more about Dr. Werb’s PRIMER.

Dr. Yuen received a CIHR New Investigator Award to support his growing research program, focused on developing new ways to diagnose and treat kidney scarring—one of the most common causes of kidney failure. Recognizing that the kidney stiffens when it scars, Dr. Yuen’s research will use innovative techniques to image kidney stiffness as a way to measure kidney scarring without the need for a painful and risky biopsy. As this stiffening also drives the scarring process, his lab is also developing new anti-stiffness agents that shut off scarring, and which hopefully will therefore prevent kidney failure. Learn more about Dr. Yuen’s kidney scarring research.

Dr. Kastner’s CIHR New Investigator Award will support her program of research developing and implementing an electronic tool for seniors who have multiple chronic diseases. The tool will help seniors, the largest growing proportion of our population in Canada, receive the most appropriate care. Dr. Kastner is also North York General Hospital's Research Chair in Knowledge Translation and Implementation.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.