April 26, 2023
Government of Alberta Approves Planning for Centre for Research & Innovative Care
Alberta Health Services is taking steps to develop new treatments and cures for children by fully integrating research and frontline care. In partnership with the Government of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, AHS has begun planning to build a “Centre for Research & Innovative Care” on site at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
“We are ready to lead a critical shift in children’s health and wellness. A new Centre for Research and Innovative Care will help reduce the time it takes for discoveries in the lab to impact patient care by embedding research into the hospital and ensuring the best outcomes possible for children and their families.”
– Jason Copping, Health Minister
“Patients in research-intensive hospitals experience lower mortality rates and better health outcomes,” says Mauro Chies, President and CEO of AHS. “As children’s illnesses grow more complex and acute, there are fewer ‘textbook’ answers available to clinicians. This Centre will enable us to conduct real-time research and write important new chapters in the future of child health.”
“This Centre will be the next important step in a long-term vision generously supported by our community. Step one was building an excellent clinical enterprise at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Step two was creating a child-focused research institute. Now, step three will bring them together in this new Centre so more children’s lives can be saved and changed through innovation.”
– Saifa Koonar, President and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation
More than 40 years of philanthropic support through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation has helped the University of Calgary recruit and retain what is now the largest and most productive concentration of child health scientists in the country. UCalgary child health researchers are conducting studies of national and international importance and, in the past two years alone, have been awarded nearly $100 million in competitive research funding.
“UCalgary’s network of medical researchers need to be connected to frontline clinicians to truly transform children’s health. The new Centre will provide a home for important research discoveries that will help children and youth in our community, across the country and around the world. It will also expand the health innovation and life sciences sectors in Alberta and create a vibrant training ground for the next generation of child health experts.”
– Dr. Ed McCauley, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calgary
Three years ago, when Nella Grant was born, she was unable to breathe. The lack of oxygen caused damage in her brain and seizures – some lasting for an hour at a time. For 11 days, a neurocritical care team at the Alberta Children’s Hospital – including physicians, nurses, therapists, and researchers – worked together to save Nella’s life and minimize further brain damage.
“We will forever be grateful to Nella’s team for making the best research-informed protocols available to her. Without them, she could have had a very different life. We count our blessings that she’s now skiing, taking dance classes and, with her growing vocabulary, becoming quite the negotiator – especially around bedtime.”
– Fraser, Nella’s Father
The vision for the new Centre is to provide that same level of research-infused care to all children who enter the hospital. Right now, pediatric hospitals across Canada care for children whose conditions are acute, chronic, complex, and often undiagnosed. The new Centre will help address historic gaps in child-focused research, knowledge and innovation. It will be purpose-built and enable biomedical specialists, data scientists, physicians, nurses and therapists to work side by side under one roof to quickly translate research into better health outcomes for children. Vital clinical research will occur steps away from onsite laboratories. Leading-edge technology, biobanking, big data infrastructure and analytics, and enhanced imaging and genetic sequencing are some of the components within a new Centre that could help inform and advance precision medicine for kids.
“The Centre is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put children and their families at the centre of research. We know it will help us save more lives, reduce long-term disability, develop new treatments, and prevent the onset of symptoms and disease. It will create opportunities for us to learn, transform and heal – in ways that have never before been possible.”
– Dr. Susa Benseler, Director of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute
AHS will initiate business planning for the Centre to determine scope and scale, detailed budget, timelines, as well as an optimal location for construction. The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation will provide funding for this work.