Welcome to the CHEO Research Institute’s 2022-23 online annual report. This year’s report looks different than in previous years, as we streamline and deliver highlights from this past fiscal year in an accessible, easy-to-review format.
This year saw the CHEO Research Institute return to in-person work opportunities after more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions. We launched the hybrid work model for the Office of Research Services, hosted live events such as the CHEO Bears’ Den, launched our Mentorship Program, and returned to conferences in Canada and around the world to share our latest discoveries and more.
The CHEO Research Institute made considerable progress in bolstering our data and artificial intelligence (AI) capacity through significant investments in cutting-edge infrastructure and hiring key personnel such as our first-ever AI Data Scientist. We continue to build our Innovation and Commercialization Core as we innovate a better way forward for our health care system by bridging gaps and breaking down traditional silos.
Our seven Research Teams continue to hit their stride as they bring together scientists and clinical investigators through regular meetings and annual retreats, to align and share resources with the common vision of making discoveries to inspire the best life for every child and youth.
The fiscal year ended with mixed emotions as we said goodbye to Rhonda Correll, the CHEO Research Institute’s long-serving Chief Operating Officer, who retired on March 31, 2023, after more than 30 years with CHEO (15 of which were with the Research Institute). Under Rhonda’s skilled leadership, the Research Institute grew as an organization, expanded its areas of research, and delivered strategic priorities to meet the changing landscape of pediatric research. She will be missed, but her legacy lives on and we look forward to awarding the inaugural Rhonda Correll Leadership Award at the 2023 CHEO Research Institute Awards of Excellence. Rhonda’s retirement led to a strategic functional realignment of the CHEO Research Institute leadership team; with the creation of six director roles to lead us as we embark on our next strategic plan in concert with CHEO in 2024.
Thank you to Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO, for his partnership in helping to further integrate research at CHEO, and to Steve Read, President and CEO of the CHEO Foundation, for his continued support and championing of research at CHEO. A special thank you to Chris Dyrda, Chair of the CHEO Research Board of Directors, and all our Board members for their strategic guidance and direction. I look forward to working with the new CHEO Research Institute leadership team as we continue to support and facilitate the ground-breaking work of CHEO researchers and their teams; all of which is inspired by the children and families who inform and shape the research we do today that will become the clinical care of tomorrow.
Dr. Jason Berman
CEO and Scientific Director, CHEO Research Institute
Vice-President Research, CHEO
“I am continually inspired and motivated by the ingenuity and talent of the researchers, staff, trainees, and volunteers at the CHEO Research Institute. As they continue to work together towards a brighter future for children and youth through impactful discoveries and innovations, our Board of Directors is humbled to support them in their incredible pursuits.”
Chris Dyrda, Chair, CHEO Research Institute Board of Directors
“We need to right-size pediatric health care by increasing the scale and scope of our services to better meet the needs of a growing population of children and youth. Research and innovation will help us do that. The CHEO Research Institute is an integral part of Team CHEO and by further integrating research into the DNA of CHEO, we are living our vision of providing the best life for every child and youth.”
Alex Munter, President and CEO, CHEO
“The CHEO Foundation is proud to fuel the ground-breaking discoveries made at the CHEO Research Institute that will impact the lives of children right here at home and worldwide. Research at CHEO is made possible because of the generous donors who see the promise and hope research provides, and the researchers who bring that promise to life.”
Steve Read, President and CEO, CHEO Foundation
Strategic Plan Report Card
With one year remaining in the CHEO Research Institute strategic plan ‘Oh, the Places We’ll Explore! 2024’, here is a high-level report card on key strategic goals completed during the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Incredible work continues across the Research Institute to deliver on the many strategic goals of the current plan, and we look forward to a renewed strategic plan for research at CHEO for 2024 and beyond.
2022-2023 Highlight Reel
Using a protocol developed at UC San Francisco, physicians have successfully treated a fetus with a devastating genetic disorder for the first time, and the child is now thriving as a toddler, a case study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports.
The child’s disorder, infantile-onset Pompe disease, is one of several lysosomal storage diseases that begin to cause severe damage to major organs, such as the heart, before birth. After six prenatal enzyme replacement treatments at The Ottawa Hospital, the child, Ayla, was born at term. She is receiving postnatal enzyme therapy at CHEO and is doing well.
Contrary to popular belief, rest from school may not always be the best after a concussion, a new study published in JAMA Network Open finds. In fact, an early return to school is associated with a lower symptom burden after suffering a concussion and, ultimately, faster recovery.
The kids are not alright: Emergency department visits for attempted suicides rose globally among youth during pandemic
Even though pediatric emergency department visits decreased greatly overall during the COVID-19 pandemic, a newly published study led out of the University of Calgary and co-authored with researchers from the University of Ottawa, CHEO Research Institute, Toronto’s SickKids Hospital for Sick Children, and University College Dublin, shows there was also a sharp increase in emergency department visits for attempted suicide and suicide ideation among children and adolescents in that same period of social isolation.
Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and CHEO Research Institute have treated the first patient in an innovative clinical trial of a cell therapy that aims to prevent very premature babies from developing a chronic lung disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). This is the first trial of its kind in in the world.
For more than a decade, the Care4Rare Canada Consortium (Care4Rare) has provided answers for families living with undiagnosed rare disease. Care4Rare is an international trailblazer in rare disease, using cutting-edge technologies to discover the underlying cause while bringing diagnostic innovations into the clinical care pathway for rare disease.
The CHEO Research Institute launched a new software platform for generating synthetic data to improve access to electronic health record information and combined research datasets, while significantly reducing threats to privacy. It will advance pediatric research in precision health, which requires large datasets for generation of algorithms to personalize treatments.
Take a look inside the inaugural CHEO Bears’ Den pitch event where health care innovation takes centre stage. On Friday, November 18, 2022, a handful of med-tech start-ups were welcomed into the CHEO Bears’ Den to pitch their products and ideas with the aim of supporting and improving children’s health care. This event is a great example of how CHEO is leading the way with innovative ideas to tackle health care challenges today and in the future. Learn more!
The current crisis in pediatric health stems from years of under-funding and under-resourcing. We need to right-size our pediatric system to meet the evolving needs of our fast-growing population of children and adolescents. These youth represent our future.
We also need to rethink how we deliver care, how we incorporate research and innovation clinically, and how we produce better outcomes.
CHEO clinical trial informs Health Canada approval of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for young children and infants
Health Canada approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old on July 14, 2022. This vaccine is safe for kids and it works.
The CHEO Research Institute is one of 87 sites in Canada and the United States participating in the clinical research study, called KidCOVE, to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Moderna mRNA-1273 (COVID-19 vaccine) for children six months to under six years of age.