WCH’s Researchers Awarded New Funding

Over the past few months Women’s College Hospital (WCH) researchers have been the recipients of multiple new grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal funding agency for health research. With seven projects and studies selected, WCH teams are leading in research areas like dermatology, HIV, diabetes, and primary care.

The following WCH researchers have recently been awarded grants from CIHR:

  • Dr. Aaron Drucker
  • Dr. An-Wen Chan
  • Dr. Mona Loutfy
  • Ghazal Fazli, PhD (Supervisor:  Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe)
  • Dr. Noah Ivers

To highlight the breadth of research being undertaken, let’s spotlight two projects – The Women-Centred HIV Care Hub: Mobilizing and Scaling-up the Women-Centred HIV Care Model across Canada led by Dr. Mona Loutfy and Skin Investigation Network of Canada (SkIN Canada): Advancing interdisciplinary, patient-relevant research to improve skin health led by Dr. An-Wen Chan.

The Women-Centred HIV Care Hub: Mobilizing and Scaling-up the Women-Centred HIV Care Model across Canada

Encompassing clinical care, education, advocacy and research, the Women-Centred HIV Care Model, or WCHC Model, was created to foster holistic HIV care delivery for patients and provide resources for healthcare practitioners to enable a better understanding of the unique needs of women with HIV.  Based on findings from a ten-year community-based cohort study of 1,422 women from across the country who are living with HIV, the WCHC Model responds to the inequities women living with HIV regularly experience with respect to access and quality of care in Canada by integrating anti-oppressive care practices such as person-centred and trauma and violence aware care.

The new CIHR-funded hub will allow Dr. Loutfy and her team to develop a national strategy to improve awareness of the WCHC model with the aim of enhancing outcomes, eliminating gaps and improving healthcare quality for women with HIV. It will lead to knowledge sharing, education, mentoring and capacity building in women and HIV research, policy and care.

As part of this work, the hub team will develop a curriculum for the WCHC model to enable spread and scale across the health system, as well as hold culturally appropriate knowledge mobilization events. A centralized web-based resource will share information on available services and research findings with and for women, girls and gender-diverse people living with HIV. Additionally, the hub will prioritize training and mentoring for trainees and early career researchers focused on women and HIV.

Applying a collaborative approach, the team will include those with research, clinical and community engagement expertise from across Canada. Women with HIV will be actively involved at the leadership level of the project and sub-hubs and working groups will be created to reflect the diversity of experiences and needs amongst women living with HIV. For example, there will be sub-hubs for Indigenous women, Black women and trans women/transfeminine persons, as well as nonbinary persons. By applying a multidisciplinary and diverse approach, the hub team will be strongly positioned to advance awareness of the WCHC model, and as a result improve healthcare for women with HIV.

Skin Investigation Network of Canada (SkIN Canada): Advancing interdisciplinary, patient-relevant research to improve skin health

The Skin Investigation Network of Canada or SkIN Canada led by WCH’s Dr. An-Wen Chan aims to bring together a diverse community of researchers, patients and clinicians to catalyze and sustain innovative high-quality research related to skin health. Initially formed in 2020 through a CIHR grant, this new funding will enable SkIN Canada to continue its work over the next five years.

To advance dermatology related research, SkIN Canada has created a national forum to enable collaboration and further capacity in the field. The Network is guided by patients and knowledge users to ensure that the research produced is responsive to and reflective of real-world needs. Research projects within the Network focus on three key areas: inflammatory skin conditions; wound health, skin fibrosis and regeneration; and skin cancer.

The Network has had an impressive start. The SkIN Canada team has effectively mapped the skin research landscape in Canada and completed a landmark priority setting initiative involving over 500 patients, care providers, and researchers. SkIN Canada is also home to C-Nest the Canadian Network for Skin Disease Trials. The next five years of funding will help expand SkIN Canada’s current activities and introduce new initiatives to drive high impact skin research in Canada.

In addition to supporting its current portfolio of 16 projects, SkIN Canada will expand the resources and implementation of its national clinical and translational research platforms, facilitated by a new master data sharing agreement and data bank. The organization will also develop new teams through workshop funding and two new cross-cutting working groups – Skin of Colour and Rare Skin Disease – to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.  

Further, the network will broaden its training activities to support the next generation of leaders in skin research and patient engagement. By partnering with patient organizations and internationally recognized leaders in open science and knowledge mobilization, research outputs will be effectively translated to policy and patient care to enhance impact.

Congratulations to all the grant recipients at WCH!