Updates on funding, studies, and initiatives
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MICYRN News        Winter 2017  |  9.1

Funding Announcements

Funding Announced for the Preterm Birth Network  
Congratulations to the Canadian Collaborative Network to Improve Outcomes for Preterm Infants and Their Families team, which has been approved for funding by CIHR. The proposal was rated an impressive score of 4.6, and will receive $4.25M over five years. The network will have a measurable impact on maternal-infant-developmental outcomes for families affected by preterm birth.

MICYRN provided a letter of support for the grant application illustrating how the network could assist in their work.

SQUEEZE Trial Awarded CIHR Project Scheme Grant
Congratulations to the SQUEEZE TRIAL team (lead PI Dr. Melissa Parker, McMaster University) on recently being awarded almost $2M in a CIHR Project Scheme Grant, which was one of the largest grants awarded in the competition. Canadian Critical Care Trials Group and Pediatric Emergency Research Canada are project partners, and a paper on the SQUEEZE Trial was recently published in the journal Trials. Septic shock remains one of the most significant and potentially preventable causes of death in children worldwide. The study aims to investigate substances in the blood that may help clinicians recognize and treat sepsis faster, as well as determine how best to use IV fluid in treatment, which is currently a subject of great controversy. MICYRN wrote a letter of support to accompany the grant application.

New MICYRN Vice Chair

MICYRN is please to announce that Brent Scott (ACHRI) has accepted the role as vice chair for the network, taking over for Alan Bocking (Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute). Dr. Scott has made numerous contributions to MICYRN in his previous capacity as a board director and member representative for ACHRI.

A great thank you goes out to Dr. Bocking for the significant impact he has had on the network as vice chair over the last two years, and we are happy to say he will continue as a board member until the 2017 AGM.

Improving Opportunities in Research Participant Recruitment

Engaging Healthy Families to Help Others
The Healthy Infants and Children’s Clinical Research Program (HICCUP) is developing a registry of healthy children and parents in Alberta who are willing to take part in pediatric health studies. Healthy controls play an important role in health research and the discovery of the causes and treatment of childhood illnesses. The program will provide researchers and investigators with ready, systematic access to healthy controls for their studies. Families who participate can take pride in knowing that they have positively contributed to child and community health in Alberta. 
HICCUP is a collaboration between the Women and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI), Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation and University of Calgary's Department of Pediatrics.
Learn more about how to get involved!

Streamlining Permission to Contact Improves Researcher Access  
The BCCH Biobank Secret Superhero Campaign launched a year ago and since then has significantly increased patient and family awareness of biobanks and how their participation can help research. In addition to fostering awareness, BCCH implemented the Permission to Contact (PTC) Protocol, designed by Peter Watson (UBC) to help remove obstacles to patient consent and enrollment. The single form asks patients if they would like to be contacted for future research opportunities as part of the routine health clinic practice. The Protocol, which led to several publications, will soon be used through the BC Support Unit.
Also recently, Dr. Vercauteren, Director of the BioBank, received a CIHR grant with other distinguished investigators for the study “Filling the void: Public engagement around a new model for access to research resources”.  This work will help further facilitate research engagement.

Youth Engagement Improving Pediatric Studies
KidsCan advisor Vivian Tsang presenting at Mini Med

The Vancouver young persons’ research advisory group, KidsCan, had the opportunity to present at one of BCCHR’s recent Mini Med School courses in November. Since 2003, nominated high school students attend these highly successful evenings, which are designed to give a basic understanding of various research fields, while exploring up-to-the-minute basic science research, clinical applications and social and ethical implications related to that field.
The KidsCan team presented on the projects they are involved in and how students can take part as new members of the team.  As a result, they received applications from 47 potential new advisors for upcoming projects, including Child-Bright, the Chronic Kidney Disease network, and a diabetes group. Over the winter break, KidsCan advisors worked with the Child-Bright and Cansolve education program leads to provide input on CIHR modules designed to train patient/public research advisors.

A Closer Look at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Photo curtesy of BCCHR
MICYRN’s coordinating centre currently operates out of BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (BCCHR), and in this issue we take a closer look at BCCHR, one of the original network members. Formerly known as CFRI, the research arm of BC Children’s Hospital has gone through significant change this past year, including its rebranding and entering the first year of a new five-year strategic plan. Building on its four research themes – i) Childhood Diseases, ii) Brain, Behaviour and Development, iii) Healthy Starts, and iv) Evidence to Innovation – investigator groups were established to further strategies in discovery, prevention, and treatment. Executive Director Wyeth Wasserman explains that the structuring of research into the four themes has energized the BCCHR community and is “opening new strategic directions and creating opportunities for research innovation.”
Facilities and services are also undergoing incredible growth and expansion with construction of the new Teck Acute Care Centre (TACC) at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, scheduled to open later in 2017. The TACC will allow for larger care teams using newer technology, with space for emergency, medical imaging; procedures suites; NICU and PICU; renal dialysis; high risk labour and delivery; medical and surgical inpatient units; the oncology/hematology/bone marrow transplant program; the Anesthetic Care Unit; the milk handling room; and transfusion medicine.
At its current site, BCCHR continues to host a number of highly successful community and education programs, including the Mini Med School (see youth engagement article above), and a number of events where local high school children learn about research and explore a variety of career options. This level of engagement has helped develop a strong relationship with the community and has encouraged a number of students to further their studies in the health sciences.
With more than 1000 affiliated investigators conducting discovery, translational and clinical research, studies led out of BCCHR are often cited in national and international news. Most recently, prevention research has shown that infections early in life may activate immune responses that prevent leukemia, and screening newborns for a common virus is a cost-effective way to prevent lifelong disability. BCCHR researchers have also found that most childhood injuries don’t impact quality of life in the long term, and discovered an early warning sign of transplant rejection.
In rare disease and genomics research, pediatric patients are receiving new leading-edge genomic testing that is improving treatment options, while the discovery of epigenetic patterns associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder could be the first step towards earlier diagnosis.
Through the MICYRN partnership, BCCHR and the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI, Edmonton) have been working together on an informatics initiative to better understand the i2b2 (Integrating Biology & the Bedside) software demonstration project, led by Dr. Elodie Portales-Casamar, to acquire and test a scalable open-source informatics framework to enable secondary usage and sharing of clinical data for discovery research. MICYRN is supporting half of a full-time i2b2 programmer role. Dr. Portales-Casamar leads the MICYRN Clinical Informatics working group, which also includes Ashley McKerrow from BCCHR, while Jennie Prasad, Dr. Caron Strahlendorf, and Dr. Marc Levine all sit on the MICYRN Research Ethics Board (REB) working group. In addition, several BCCHR researchers are involved with three significant CIHR-funded, MICYRN-supported initiatives – Research Advancement through Cohort Cataloguing and Harmonization (ReACH), Can-SHARE (Canadian arm of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health), and Rare Diseases: Models & Mechanisms Network (also funded in part by Genome BC). BCCHR is also one of six Canadian Pediatric Trials Network sites facilitated by MICYRN.
The collaboration between MICYRN members encourages the exchange of innovations that is helping research institutions achieve economies of scale and optimize investment in research.

Linking Environmental Data with Pregnancy/Birth Cohorts

Left to right: Alvaro Osornio Vargas, Piush Mandhane, Anita Kozyrskyi, Stephanie Atkinson, Meghan Azad, PJ Subbaro, Eric Lavigne (photo by Ayaz Hyder)
The Canadian Urban Environmental (CANUE) Health Research Consortium, which is partnering with some of the largest health and cohort databases in Canada and was supported by MICYRN in its grant application, held a workshop with over 100 attendees for its various research arms in early December. At the breakout session, the working group for the Maternal-Fetal-Child Integrated Research Analysis theme (pictured above) discussed common interests in environmental exposures and outcomes and possible approaches to link the pregnancy and birth cohort databases being created through the ReACH project (also supported by MICYRN in its successful grant application) with CANUE databases.
The working group participants represented a great mix of expertise and interests, including members from several of the pregnancy/birth cohorts and experts in government and other environmental databases. The group prioritized two initial projects: 1) a thorough search of the ReACH catalogue of cohorts to determine which environmental exposures and outcomes of interest to CANUE have been measured in the existing cohorts; and 2) validation of physical activity as measured by questionnaires in many of the cohorts against accelerometer measures completed in part of the CHILD study. Stephanie Atkinson (ReACH co-PI) and Megan Azad (CHILD cohort study co-lead) serve as co-chairs of this CANUE working group.
Who We Are 

MICYRN is a national network that links 20 maternal and child health research centres in Canada to share innovations and reduce duplication of efforts across the country. 



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Please contact us if you have any news or events you would like included in our quarterly newsletter or on other platforms.

Upcoming Events

Lifelong Learning in Paediatrics Course
Quebec City, QC
February 10-12
Canadian National Perinatal Meeting
Montebello, QC
February 14-17
CHSPR’s 29th Annual Health Policy Conference 
Vancouver, BC
March 9-10

SOGC West/Central CME 2017
Banff, AB
March 16-18

94th CPS Annual Conference
Vancouver, BC
May 31-June 3 
Nutrition and Nurture in Infancy and Childhood
Cumbria, UK
June 12-14

SOGC 73rd Annual Clinical Meeting 2017
Ottawa, ON
June 20-23

International Neonatology Association Conference
Lyon, France
July 7-9


News in Brief

The December Enpr-EMA newsletter is now available.

Look for the RDMM winter newsletter out later this month.

Visit our initiatives page for updates on clinical trials.

MICYRN's AGM will be in Montreal this year. Stay tuned for updates.


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