Farewell but not Goodbye: Fall Convocation 2018

Farewell but not Goodbye: Fall Convocation 2018

As we welcome one cohort of students to the program, we say goodbye to another. Last week, the University of Toronto had its Fall Convocation, recognizing the accomplishments of its graduates. We had several graduates come together on this overcast November Tuesday, to celebrate and reflect on their time at the Translational Research Program.

Julia Antolovich, Razan Bouzieneddine, Craig Madho and Kathleen Mounce were among the TRP alumni at convocation. They worked on their capstone project entitled ICONS, Improving Cancer Outpatient Nutrition Status. Their research examined why the current tools and resources to improve nutrition in cancer outpatients weren’t working. From this, they identified barriers to be addressed in redesigning current initiatives. You can read more about their project here.

Catherine and Haley were also at the fall convocation. Their capstone project, Fall Risk Assessment at a Geriatric Rehab Hospital, sought to evaluate the current methods of fall risk assessment being used and how they can be improved. You can read more about their project here.

Also at the ceremony was Kate Kazlovich, representing her capstone team: Invasive Placentation. With team members Connor Janeteas, and Dr. Julia Kfouri, they understood invasive placentation as a medically and surgically complex condition, and recognized the opportunity to improve the sharing of knowledge between physicians in the medical community. For their capstone project, the team created a 3D printed simulation of invasive placentation that could be used to facilitate training of physicians on the intricacies of interventions. You can read more about their project here.

Dr. Joana Dos Santos was also there to represent her capstone team: Refractory Incontinence in Children: Is There Hope? With team members Dr. Reza Vali and Edyta Marcon, they sought to understand what treatment options patients and parents were interested in, and to learn what it takes to bring a treatment used in adults to the paediatric setting. Their final milestone was the initiation of a pilot project at SickKids to test the efficacy of an adult treatment in children. You can read more about their project here.

We at the TRP are proud of the hard work that our students put into these projects and all they learned along the way. Over two years, the faculty has seen these students grow, in their thinking, their skillset, and their passion to fostering an innovative healthcare system. We offer our sincere congratulations to all our alumni who’ve graduated this year. We’re excited to see you move forward as Translational Researchers and follow the amazing work you’ll spearhead.

Where our 2018 graduates are now:

Ahlexxi Jelen: Laboratory Manager, The Hospital for Sick Children; Co-Founder HIIO
Catherine Rivers: Project Coordinator, Think Research
Connor Janeteas: Medical Applications Specialist, Cimetrix Solutions Inc.
Craig Madho: Research Analyst, OpenLabs; Knowledge Broker, NICE
Edyta Marcon: Senior Research Associate, Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto; Course Instructor, Translational Research Program, University of Toronto
Hayley Roher: Health Data Analyst, Ontario Internship Program MOHLTC
Joana Dos Santos: Medical Urologist Urology, The Hospital for Sick Children; Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto
Julia Antolovich: Project Assistant, Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Sinai Health System
Julia Kfouri: Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Sinai Health System, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Kate Kazlovich: Junior Creative Innovation Associate, INVIVO Communications Inc.
Kathleen Mounce: Field Case Manager, AmerisourceBergen
Marcos Silva: Staff Anesthesiologist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Lecturer, Department of Anesthesia, University of Toronto; Medical Director, Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS), The Michener Institute
Megan Lofft: pursuing opportunities that will combine her experience in the fitness industry with health research, education and translational research skills.
Razan Bouzeineddine: pursuing further studies in health services research
Robby Spring: Laboratory Manager, Baycrest; Co-Founder HIIO
Vaishnavi Batmanabane: Clinical Research Project Coordinator, The Hospital for Sick Children

Interested in hearing about the TRP from one of our alumni? Craig Madho wrote a blog post on what drew him to the program and what he learned along the way, that you can find here.

Found in Translation: New PIPEDA Data Breach Reporting and Notification Requirements-What You Need to Know

Found in Translation: New PIPEDA Data Breach Reporting and Notification Requirements-What You Need to Know

Written By: Dr. Gabriella Chan

Is my information safe?

Do you remember every account you’ve ever created or every point of contact you’ve made online that required your personal email address or your mother’s maiden name to receive a “free” product? Probably not. The reality is that we don’t have any idea what kind of personal information about us is floating on the web, who has it, and what they can do with it. We either place our blind trust in these organizations to keep our information secure, or worse yet, we don’t even give it a second thought – until a data breach is publicized through the media.

Perhaps the companies in the health sector might be a slight exception. We tend to be more aware of the implications of having our personal health information fall into the wrong hands, so we have higher expectations that custodians of our health information safeguard it accordingly. Privacy regulation of personal health information is a provincial matter. In Ontario, the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) sets the rules around the collection, use and disclosure of individuals’ personal health information.

On a broader scale, to ensure adequate measures are taken to protect Canadians’ personal information, there is legislation in place. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) provides the privacy legislation framework for Canadian organizations in the private sector. PIPEDA requires organizations to protect the personal information they’ve collected about an identifiable individual. Ontario’s PHIPA has been declared substantially similar to PIPEDA.

On November 1st 2018, an amendment to PIPEDA came into effect that imposes certain obligations on organizations that experience a breach of the security protecting personal information in their custody. This amendment requires three points of action:

  1. Reporting the breach to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner
  2. Notifying individuals and other organizations affected by the breach
  3. Maintaining accurate records of every data breach

These added requirements reflect Canada’s respect for the privacy of personal information. Organizations will have to implement or update their handling practices to ensure compliance with the new legislation.

You can read my full post on what these changes mean for you, here. This is a comprehensive overview explaining what a breach of data is, when to report it, how to follow the notification obligations, and the requirements on record-keeping.

Found in Translation: Blue Roses – A Spotlight on Death and Dying in the Shadows

Found in Translation: Blue Roses – A Spotlight on Death and Dying in the Shadows

‘Knowledge Translation’ can take many forms, and local Ottawa documentary film makers Ed Kucerak and Dr. Danielle Rolfe have taken their craft to the next level with the recent world premiere of Blue Roses – an often difficult but endearing look at end-of-life care in the shadows of ‘traditional’ society.

Blue Roses headlined the Saturday program of the 29th edition of the One World Film Festival, the National Capital Region’s longest-running documentary film festival raising awareness on social justice, human rights and environmental issues. The film makers accompanied the hospice palliative care outreach team of Mission Hospice in Ottawa, with their unobtrusive camera documenting acts of resilience and a community finding strength in its members to bring care to those often suffering in silence.

Getting health and social care is a challenge for people living in rooming houses, who often face poverty, mental illness and addictions at the best of times – but these individuals are often completely invisible to the people who typically provide palliative and end-of-life care. As part of outreach activities, the Ottawa Mission, a champion of care for the homeless and marginally housed since 2001, provides all aspects of health and spiritual care, and works with several partner agencies in the National Capital Region to meet the needs of all patients. Their presence strengthens the community and brings meaning and dignity to people who may otherwise be forgotten.

Utilizing the power of the medium of film, the documentary provides a voice to patients and community members, highlighting the need to include lived experience into evidence-based decision-making/patient-centred care. The powerful shots showcase the size and depth of the issue – but also paint a hopeful and inspiring picture of the power of human contact and interaction in the face of obstacles (such as access to pain medication).

Received with a standing ovation at its premiere, the documentary deserves a broad audience – and will hopefully be picked up by mainstream distributors for TV and program cinema. In the words of an audience member: “Everyone deserves dignity – and society will continue to be judged by how it treats its poor and homeless.”

An abbreviated version of the documentary will be shown as part of the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly’s (NICE) Reel Aging series in collaboration with the University of Toronto’s Institute for Life Course and Aging at the Bahen Auditorium (40 St. George Street, Room 1170) on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 from 6:30 PM.

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day was on October 13th. This year’s theme was Palliative Care – Because I Matter!, providing the perfect opportunity to reflect and start thinking about your own values and (care) needs. You can find further information on advance care planning here.

Disclaimer: The author is a member of One World Arts, Box Office Co-lead for the One World Film Festival and chairs the End-of-Life Issues Theme Team for the NICE, a knowledge translation network dedicated to enhancing the care of older adults in Canada and abroad.

Written by: Christopher A. Klinger, PhD

Credit: Feature image was edited from a photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash.

Found in Translation: Tweet Tweet

Found in Translation: Tweet Tweet

Deep breath. I am finally ready to confess: I have never tweeted. Wait–that’s not quite true, I’m an excellent tweeter while reading P.D. Eastman’s “Are you my mother?” to my kids. Stellar, if I do say so myself. I have not Twitter tweeted, though.

Yikes, I just looked up when Twitter began. 2006. Gulp. Embarrassing!

It gets worse; I work in medical communications. I have somehow worked in communications for over a decade without a Twitter account.

Why not? At first, because I didn’t understand what it was. Later, because I was trying to stay present and engaged with family and friends in front of me. I like eye contact and hugs, so do my kids.

Why now? Samantha Yammine led a wicked workshop at the TRP Rhetoric of Science class this week. She is awesome, you should follow her. (Follow her on Twitter–not in person.) She showed us how and why to communicate science through social media.

Her do’s and don’ts for science communication via Twitter helped me feel equipped. Here are a few:

Do Don’t
•   connect with scientists and science-lovers

•   tell stories or create ‘Top 5’ lists by replying to your own post

•   share beautiful photos and videos of your cells with image descriptions and closed captioning

•   exclude or offend

•   oversell your findings or ideas as consensus if they’re new

•   dramatize or exaggerate your results

Above all, do tweet. Twitter allows for massive cross-border conversations on the topics most important to us. Join these conversations. Express your values and ideas. Read and listen. Debate, collaborate, and influence your colleagues’ aspirations. Inspire and be inspired.


by Sandy Marshall

Alumnus Reflection: the Journey to Translational Research

Alumnus Reflection: the Journey to Translational Research

Written by Craig Madho

The healthcare landscape has always existed with two very clearly defined pillars: researchers and practitioners. While they exist in different capacities in the hospital setting, the roles can always be reduced down to one of two binary states. As the body of research in Toronto began to grow, the need for a third pillar rapidly emerged – not one that exists parallel to researchers and practitioners, but one that bisects them and creates a bridge for moving research into practice: a translational researcher.

As a student at the U of T, I took a non-linear path from my bachelor’s degree to my master’s degree at the Translational Research Program (TRP). I completed my BSc at the University of Toronto in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology as a specialist student. Being in the specialist program, I had the opportunity to undergo a Professional Experience Year (PEY) working with an industry group in the field. I was fortunate to get a PEY at the Applied Health Research Centre (AHRC) in St. Michael’s Hospital as a Research Assistant where I helped manage phase 2-4 clinical trials both nationally and internationally. During my time at the AHRC I was given several opportunities to see how high impact research was being reduced to practice and I was given the chance to help facilitate that movement. That was the moment I knew my interests were not in discovery research, but in how to best utilize that research to improve patient outcomes.

When I returned to finish my BSc, I quickly started searching for opportunities to learn more about how to move research into practice. I read about how business circles create customer profiles for identifying target customers and understanding markets; I looked at how engineers solicit design specifications from users when developing devices; I immersed myself in knowledge translation literature to understand how these circles were approaching moving healthcare research into practice at the patient level. Taking this a step further, I worked in a health tech software development start-up where I was able to learn and practice these skills directly.

I was considering graduate programs as the next step in my career development when I learned about the TRP. Reading about the TRP, I realized that this program was a platform where these interdisciplinary ideas were brought together in the healthcare lens. I see this nexus as being invaluable because, at its core, these concepts involve building healthcare interventions from the perspective of the end-user, which in this case is the patient. This was exemplified by one of the capstone projects, the Timely Project that tackled the lengthy wait times for mental health service access at U of T. Seeing the impact of this project convinced me that the TRP would be a good home for my curiosity. This is why I joined the TRP: to be on the forefront of building a healthcare system that is authentically patient-centric and is accessible to everyone.

My capstone project, which is the professional masters equivalent of a thesis project, looked at how to improve cancer outpatient nutrition by assessing nutritional resources and understanding how to revitalize them from the context of patient needs. My capstone partners (Kathleen Mounce, Razan Bouzeineddine, Julia Antolovich) and I had the pleasure of working closely with 3 key cancer patient resources in Toronto; ELLICSR, Wellspring, and Gilda’s Club; as well as several cancer patients that access these resources. Through our work, we identified gaps in programming that can be addressed by these groups in order to help deliver education on maintaining a proper diet as a cancer outpatient, which helps not only reduce the physical side effects of chemotherapy but also helps reduce long-term recurrence of cancer.

In addition to my capstone work, I applied a user-centric philosophy to several of my extra-curricular activities. During my time as a student, I was one of the co-presidents of the Institute of Medical Science Students Association (IMSSA). Outside of IMSSA, I was the co-founder of the IMS Peer-to-Peer Mentorship program, a member of the Student Alumni Faculty Engagement Committee, lead organizer of the Pillars of Health (an annual TRP networking event) committee, and a lead on the UofT Talks organizing committee. Through my work with these various student groups, I strived to instill the importance of co-creating with the target users in mind to create an experience that is both valuable and meaningful. For my work with these groups, I have been graciously honoured with the 2018 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, the inaugural Graduate Community Development Fund Award, and the Roncari Book Prize.

Now that my time as a student in the TRP has come to an end, I am very grateful for the mentorship and opportunities given to me. I plan to take my experience and learnings into a career as a healthcare innovator, knowledge mobilizer, and translational researcher working with the various groups I met as a master’s student. My current projects include working with the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) as a knowledge broker on various innovation projects related to health issues in Toronto’s aging population, such as opioid use in seniors, as well as supporting NICE in their new Intergenerational Homeshare Project, which seeks to break down generational barriers to provide affordable housing for students while also tackling big issues like senior social isolation, aging in place, and ageism. In addition to my work with NICE, I am working with the editorial team at The Local, a hyperlocal healthcare magazine run out of UHN OpenLab, to tell the story of population health data and highlight health gaps in Toronto’s communities. As research moves forward, I hope to continue to work closely with the healthcare system to ensure that we are able to deliver the best possible patient-centred care.

See Craigs article with The Local’s series Unsung Heroes: Ghirmai the Interpreter and connect with Craig on LinkedIn or Twitter.

First Year Review : A Student’s Perspective

First Year Review : A Student’s Perspective

“One year of TRP done! It’s been busy and eye-opening.”

Meet Kathleen Camaya, a registered nurse (RN) in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Hospital for Sick Children. She’s been working at SickKids for 9 years and is entering her second year in the Translational Research Program (TRP) at the University of Toronto.

Now that you’ve completed your first year, what are your thoughts?

“From day one, Rich (TRP Instructor) and Joseph (TRP Director and Instructor) encouraged us to network and get out of our comfort zone. I feel like I finally got what they were talking about at the end of the year.”

Change doesn’t happen in isolation, and the TRP encourages students to cross between the silos of healthcare to form meaningful connections that can lead to interdisciplinary collaborations. The program aims to not only instruct, but inspire students to drive change in their communities.

What drew you to this program?

“I didn’t want a theory-based program. I wanted something hands on and TRP sounded like a program that was unique and forward thinking. I liked that it was open to various fields in health care with a focus on the patient or end user.”

The TRP is more than just courses or projects, it will change the way you think about health-related problems and gaps. This two-year, course-based professional degree is designed for highly motivated students of diverse professional and academic backgrounds to advance problem-solving designs in medical and health science contexts. Through flexible coursework and hands-on leadership experience, students are provided with analytical tools and frameworks to help build professional translational researcher skills.

What was a memorable experience from your first year?

“Throughout the year, we had many discussants speak in the Foundations in Translational Research course about a variety of topics spanning the pathway from bench to bedside and influences on the stages of research.”

Among the first year courses, the MSC1000: Foundations in Translational Research course aims to provide students with a high-level perspective of the research, discover, translation and commercialization landscape by fostering discussions with guest speakers who have real-world experience in these areas.

“One of the guest speakers that inspired me was UHN’s OpenLabs, a design and innovation shop dedicated to finding creative solutions to problems in health care. I was very interested in their approach to health care barriers and the public rounds they held every Tuesday. Following that class, I attended an OpenLabs rounds and met Adeline Cohen, who was working on the Toronto Rehab Urban Farm project. I connected with her after rounds and through our conversation, I discovered our shared interests in nutrition and the need to improve nutritional education within health care.”

Kathleen, who had extensive experience at the bedside, was able to make a connection that fostered the opportunity to collaborate on a research project in an intersection of their passions.

“…we both share an interest in expanding green space in healthcare facilities. I expressed my interest in her Urban Farm project and she asked me if I’d like to help her out. I volunteered my time to help out with an extensive literature review for her paper. In acknowledgment of our collaboration, Adeline will put my name as one of the authors in her paper. This is the first paper that will have my name on it! Adeline has been awesome to collaborate with and I am happy to help her out with her project.”

Any final reflections on your first year?

“I wanted to thank both Rich and Joseph, for opening up great opportunities for TRP students. It is exciting for me to be able to network and meet people with similar interests and to work on a project together. Following their advice to network and collaborate has really paid off! At first, I was a little unsure of how to go about networking but attending sessions, such as Open Rounds, has helped me to gain confidence in collaborating with others.”

Kathleen’s experience is one of the many stories of TRP students embedding themselves in their community or reaching out beyond their niche to drive change. As Kathleen enters her second year, she’ll be able to draw on these lessons learned and apply her skills to her Capstone project and future directions.