Fueling innovative discoveries with creative approaches

A holiday message of thanks from VCHRI executive director Dr. Robert McMaster and associate director Dr. David Granville.

From pairing robotic pets with dementia patients to exploring how machine learning could enhance prostate cancer treatments, the creative approaches of our VCHRI team are shaping the future of health research and care. And our out-of-the-box thinking is paying off.

This year, VCHRI researchers attained record-high funding through grants and awards, with over $120 million in financial support for our talented scientists. We saw top dollars go toward pioneering projects, such as improving spinal cord injury management and recovery at ICORD, determining both the health and economic burden of asthma at the Centre for Heart and Lung Health, finding the causes of neurodegenerative disease at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and developing new therapies to address drug resistance at the Vancouver Prostate Centre. VCHRI also awarded over 40 individual researchers and teams funding to support their efforts.

“Our researchers are making significant discoveries that are opening doors for innovative approaches in the delivery of health care in this province and beyond,” says Dr. Robert McMaster, VCHRI executive director. “Whether integrating technologies into research methods or collaborating with different teams and disciplines, there is a growing interest in exploring novel approaches to meet the health care needs of the future.” 

“The creative ideas of our scientists are resulting in groundbreaking discoveries and expanding the capacity of the health care system,” says McMaster.

This year, many of our researchers explored how state-of-the-art equipment could enhance clinical efficiencies and outcomes. For example, the skin cancer probe captured headlines for its ability to help with the early detection of melanoma. The new technology could be used as a preliminary screening tool for skin cancer. Researchers are also navigating advanced technology for greater efficiency and cost-savings. 3D printed surgical guides could assist with the complicated undertaking of reconstructive jaw surgery and significantly increase the accuracy of the procedure. 

Our research teams are increasingly examining the integration of digital technology into health care practices. A phone app is helping transplant patients keep on top of taking essential medications. The technological aids also help clinicians identify which patients are not taking their medications properly so they can intervene quickly, before patients’ health is negatively impacted. For younger patients in rehab, they might find their recovery a lot more enjoyable thanks to a virtual reality video game designed to improve their motor learning.

These examples, along with research into disease progression, new medications, disease risk factors and health care costs, to name a few, are all vitally important for the advancement of medical knowledge and invention of life-saving techniques and tools that can be brought to market. 

“Our researchers are doing the necessary legwork to move ideas into practice,” says VCHRI’s associate director Dr. David Granville. “Their work is crossing disciplines and integrating the most cutting-edge technology to deliver the best possible results.”

“The collaborative approach of the VCHRI research team is leading to innovative commercial applications that are bettering patient care and outcomes, along with the health care system as a whole,” says Granville.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the pursuit of excellence in research. Your ongoing contributions play a vital role in the exceptional health care provided to British Columbians and beyond. We wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season, and a rewarding year to come.

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