Health Sciences North Research Institute shares the progress it has made in health research in Northern Canada, highlighting some of its major focus areas
The Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) is the affiliated research institute of Health Sciences North. HSNRI is designed to bring together researchers, clinicians, regional partners, and industry, and is founded on the basis of fostering translational research. HSNRI is a significant regional resource in health and biomedical research and has achieved recognition in many fields. HSNRI researchers are at the forefront of innovative and new discoveries, engaging our communities and implementing these discoveries through integrated knowledge exchange and reciprocal partnerships.
The breadth and depth of health research expertise within HSNRI and its affiliated hospital provide the unique opportunity to merge initiatives and form collaborations that assemble stakeholders from the research community to address challenging and complex problems. HSNRI focuses on the following research priorities:
Northern & Indigenous Health
Our region is geographically and demographically unique with its numerous rural and remote communities. Northerners and Indigenous peoples face unique health challenges given the vast expanse of the region and issues with access to health care services and providers. As a result, people in this region have poorer health status and face unique challenges due to culture and geography. Our Northern population health research focuses on the specialised needs of populations such as Indigenous peoples; those with chronic health conditions; and, those in rural and remote areas.
The Health Sciences North Volunteer Association Chair in Healthy Ageing leads this important area of research, which is designed to promote healthy ageing and vitality across the lifespan. The priority also focuses on the discovery of therapies and solutions for multiple conditions associated with ageing. This area of research works closely with the Infection & Immunity, Cancer Solutions, and Personalised Medicine programs to help improve the quality of life of Northern Ontarians and to other jurisdictions. It also intersects with the priority in Northern and Indigenous Health to promote healthy ageing across the lifespan.
Northeastern Ontario has significantly higher rates of cancer incidents and mortality than the rest of Ontario. HSNRI recognises a need for studying cancer, supporting cancer patients, promoting cancer research, and providing personalised treatment solutions. HSNRI supports these initiatives through the Tumour Biology research program, the Supportive Care Oncology Research Unit (SCORU), and the development of a Research Chair in Cancer Solutions to build capacity and support collaborations and partnerships.
Infection & Immunity
HSNRI’s vaccine development and immunotherapy program is oriented towards combating chronic and infectious diseases that are prevalent in many Northern communities. Specific infections currently under investigation by HSNRI scientists include Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter, and Influenza. Vaccines and immunotherapies will be designed not only to prevent disease but mitigate the disabling consequences of these illnesses.
Personalised Medicine is an emerging technology that can be harnessed to research and treat many of the diseases that are more common in Northeastern Ontario. The goal of Personalised Medicine is to evaluate the unique genetic causes of each patient’s illness, or predisposition to an illness, and tailor medical treatments specifically for each patient. Ultimately, person-centred approaches to understanding how values and context contribute to the clinical decision-making process will help improve health outcomes in the prevention and treatment of cancer for the people and communities of Northern Ontario.
Large Scale Collaborative Research Projects
Population Health Ecosystem for Ontario’s Northern and Indigenous Communities (PHEONICS)
The PHEONICS Platform will be Northern Ontario’s first transformative research and development network built on a fully integrated cloud-based Information and Communications (ICT) platform. Connecting clinicians, patients, entrepreneurs, and leading academic and industry researchers, PHEONICS will accelerate the growth of an emergent health sciences research data cluster by offering access to a high speed data network and research infrastructure and contribute to the development, testing and application of solutions for critical healthcare and economic challenges that are faced by our Northern and Indigenous communities. Within this context, HSNRI will create an innovation ecosystem of researchers, industry, clinicians, regulators and patients built on a high speed computer platform designed to stimulate research and development on health care priorities of direct interest and benefit to Northern populations, as a means to further the broader goals of Northern health equity and economic prosperity.
The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) leads cutting-edge studies that evaluate health care delivery and outcomes. HSNRI is partnering with Laurentian University, NOSM, and ICES to develop a Northern-based satellite location. Hosting ICES North at HSNRI will help connect Northern researchers with valuable data and with world class researchers. Having a regional-based ICES satellite will also help attract new funding opportunities to ultimately help address the population health needs of Northern communities with a specialised focus on Indigenous health.
Walford Road Research Facility
This capital project was funded in part by the Greater City of Sudbury, the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, NOHFC, and FedNor. Renovation of the former St. Theresa’s school will provide HSNRI with approx. 32,000 sq. ft. of new research space. The facility opened in June 2017 and will help attract new talent in the health sciences cluster and provide state of the art space for our learners.
Solutions for the North, in the North, by the North
This is an exciting time for HSNRI as we apply our research strengths to new initiatives, align our work with our affiliated hospital’s health priorities, and steer HSNRI toward a prosperous future. We recognise and embrace a population health and health equity vision that intersects with the vast technological advancements at our disposal. This is evident through our cloud-based PHEONICS Platform and ICES North initiatives. HSNRI is now strategically positioned to lead the development of sustainable solutions to address the health care challenges faced by Northern and Indigenous Communities.
The people and communities of Northern Ontario are the key stakeholders and beneficiaries of our research enterprise. HSNRI initiatives and activities support the meaningful involvement of the people of Northern Ontario in identifying research priorities, designing and participating in research projects, and disseminating and translating research results to enhance health. HSNRI understands that interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches are mandatory in order to appropriately address the complex issues that impact health.
Health Sciences North Research Institute
Tel: +1 (705) 523 7300
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