Ottawa, Ontario — Friday June 14, 2019
The CHEO Research Institute is thrilled to announce that two of its researchers, Dr. Kym Boycott and Dr. Hanns Lochmüller, have been awarded prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chairs (CRC) through the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine. The CRC Program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Dr. Boycott is the new Canada Research Chair in Rare Disease Precision Health and Dr. Lochmüller is the Canada Research Chair in Neuromuscular Genomics and Health. These are the first Tier 1 CRCs for the CHEO Research Institute.
“This is a signal of CHEO and the University of Ottawa’s international leadership in rare disease genomics and neuromuscular disease,” says Dr. Martin Osmond, CEO and Scientific Director of the CHEO Research Institute. “Recruiting and retaining these two exceptional scientists who are globally recognized in their field demonstrates Canada’s commitment to improving the care and outcomes of the patients and families we serve every day. It will also have impact beyond just their areas of research as both Dr. Boycott’s and Dr. Lochmüller’s work in rare disease is leading the way for precision medicine in all areas of health.”
Dr. Boycott’s research through this CRC will expand and improve the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases to improve the clinical care and well-being of the nearly one million Canadians affected by these devastating diseases. Dr. Lochmüller’s research focuses on rare inherited neuromuscular diseases, and in particular on understanding why small variations in the human genome lead to these frequently disabling, sometimes lethal, and rarely treatable conditions in children and adults.
As clinician scientists, both Drs. Boycott and Lochmüller are well-known for their translational research that goes from bench to bedside and back to the bench. Their commitment to the families they care for has spurred their achievements in diagnosing and treating rare disease. Dr. Boycott sees families through the CHEO Genetics Clinic as well as through regional programs in communities such as North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. In addition to being a clinician in the Division of Neurology at CHEO, Dr. Lochmüller is also a member of the Neurology team at The Ottawa Hospital and cross-appointed to the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Both are Full Professors at the University of Ottawa.
“I’ve never wanted to do either basic science or clinical science exclusively: I enjoy working across disciplines,” says Dr. Lochmüller. “I’ll see kids or adults in the clinic, we’ll be running trials and I’ll get an idea. With families’ permission, I can take samples and data I collect in my clinic to my lab and integrate it into the work we’re doing at the ‘bench.’ From there, we can use cell and animal models to figure out what’s going wrong in the gene and bring it back to the clinic. The CRC will help accelerate this work and I’m really delighted to have this opportunity to bring Canadian families with neuromuscular disease into my clinical and basic research and also to train up new world-class investigators.”
“I’m pleased to be recognized with the CRC,” says Dr Boycott. “Rare disease research is a significant area of growth in Canada, where we lead the world in making critical gene discoveries, developing diagnostic tools for some of the toughest cases, and helping to shorten the time to diagnosis. With this support, I’ll be able to attract world class talent and I can do my best research – for Canada, for CHEO and for my patients and their families. I want to create a dynamic learning environment that improves the lives of families living with rare disease and produces the next generation of great researchers.”
Dr. Lochmüller held academic leadership positions in Germany and the UK and was recruited to Ottawa through the CRC program. Dr. Boycott’s CRC recognizes her international leadership, including her role as Chair of the Diagnostics Committee for the International Rare Disease Research Consortium. With their combined expertise in harnessing genomics to diagnose, understand, and treat rare disease, they will improve the health and well-being of families at CHEO, across Canada, and around the world.
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