WCH CONNECTFebruary 10, 2020

WCRI to launch national skin research network

  • February 10, 2020
  • BY Sarah Warr

Dr. Vincent Piguet, Dr An-Wen Chan, Dr. Aaron DruckerDr. Vincent Piguet, Dr An-Wen Chan, Dr. Aaron Drucker

Skin disorders, while not generally thought to be life-threatening, are in fact a leading cause of overall disability and death in Canada. And yet, much of the research in dermatology is conducted in isolation by a dispersed community of scientists and clinicians. To help close this health gap Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) will be establishing a first-of-its-kind, national skin research network called the Skin Investigation Network of Canada (SkIN Canada).

WCRI scientists, Drs. An-Wen Chan, Aaron Drucker and Vincent Piguet, were recently awarded $1.2M in research funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Network Catalyst Grant to establish this revolutionary network. The vision of this unique network is to catalyze and sustain innovative, patient-driven and high-quality research that improves the skin health of Canadians. 

“SkIN Canada will serve as a direct response to the need to expand skin research expertise, create new collaborations and enhance skin health through innovation,” says Dr. Chan, dermatologist at Women’s College Hospital (WCH). “We will bring together multidisciplinary teams, including patients, clinicians and scientists, to lead novel research programs that can be translated into improved care for a broad range of skin conditions.”

SkIN Canada will have three initial focus areas: inflammatory skin conditions, wound healing and skin cancer. A variety of initiatives, including the development of a research map, a virtual biobanking platform and clinical trials and translating networks, will link experts and patients across the country while providing centralized data and resources to support studies. Knowledge translation will also play a vital role in ensuring that all activities and research are effectively communicated to patients, clinicians, scientists, industry members and policymakers. 

Another key strategic aim of the network will be to grow the community of skin researchers by supporting the growth of talent across academic ranks and training levels. Annual training boot camps, trainee exchanges and leadership positions for early-career investigators will help develop the next generation of research leaders in dermatology. 

“Skin conditions are incredibly common across Canada and, unfortunately, there are still many gaps in care that exist within our health system,” says Dr. Piguet, head of dermatology at WCH. “We are very excited to receive this funding to create SkIN Canada, establishing WCH as a national leader in dermatology research.”

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