2022: $400,000 INVESTED IN ADVANCED THERAPEUTICS
Advanced Therapeutics is a multidisciplinary group of clinicians and scientists with the common goal of developing and delivering “bespoke” therapies for rare genetic diseases where no satisfactory treatment currently exists. Their work is vital to Precision Child Health, and the initiative is one of the first of its kind in the world.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators enabled the team to hire a dedicated program manager, develop systematic and equitable criteria for access, establish an Advanced Therapies Board to identify patients suitable for “bespoke” treatments, and pursue partnerships with academics, industry, patients and families, and funders to develop novel therapies and sponsor small-scale clinical trials.
2021: $300,000 INVESTED IN MENTAL HEALTH LEADERSHIP
Seventy percent of mental health challenges begin in childhood and youth. The earlier we intervene with mental healthcare, the greater our impact will be over the lifespan. In 2020, SickKids launched the Mental Health Strategy — and an international search began for a visionary leader.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators enabled the recruitment of Dr. Louise Gallagher, her relocation from Dublin, Ireland, and the setting up of her research program. As the new Chief of both the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative and the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Gallagher is leading a transformative clinical research strategy for child and youth mental health, and aligning it with Precision Child Health.
2020: $400,000 INVESTED IN SICKKKIDS TISSUE AVATARS FOR THERAPY
A new program called STAT — SickKids Tissue Avatars for Therapy — uses stem cells from individual patients to model their disease and test different treatment responses in the lab. STAT’s goal is to find the safest and most effective treatments for all patients, starting with rare conditions that lack treatment options.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators helped get STAT off the ground and prove the concept with two pilot projects, for patients with cystic fibrosis and heart disease. This support helped the team demonstrate the potential to develop STAT into a SickKids-wide drug screening platform, which they hope to establish within five years.
2019: $420,000 INVESTED IN NICU REDEVELOPMENT & EQUIPMENT
SickKids treats some of the smallest, sickest babies in Canada. As demand grew, our NICU lacked the space to give newborns and families room for privacy and healing. Our critical care units also needed point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) machines on hand to insert an intravenous line quickly and accurately, instead of waiting for a machine to free up elsewhere.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators supported the NICU’s renovation with a new four-bed room. This increased capacity to 47 beds, helping the team adapt to surges, reduce crowding, and improve comfort, privacy, and wellbeing for newborns and families. SickKids also purchased three POCUS machines for the NICU, the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, and Acute Care Transport Services.
2018: $500,000 INVESTED IN RNA SEQUENCING FOR CANCER & RARE DISEASES
Up to 70 percent of SickKids patients have a genetic component to their illness and could benefit from precision diagnosis. But standard-of-care genetic testing is costly, diagnoses fewer than half of patients with a rare disease, and doesn’t detect many genetic changes in tumours (information that could make cancer treatments more effective). A novel genetic test called RNA-sequencing could improve rates of diagnosis.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators helped fund a pilot study to diagnose patients with a rare disease or cancer, using RNA-sequencing as an additional tool in 500 patients. SickKids also hired four new diagnostic lab staff to translate the research vision to the clinic. Health partners provided SickKids with additional samples to trial RNA-sequencing as a clinical test.
2017: $500,000 INVESTED IN SICKKIDS-GHANA INITIATIVE
Children and youth make up 30 percent of Ghana’s population, yet there are very few healthcare providers trained in paediatrics. Each year, more than 51,000 newborns and children under five die, often due to preventable illnesses like pneumonia and malaria. To change this, SickKids worked with partners in Ghana to train nurses in paediatrics.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators helped support the training of 326 nurses who graduated from the Associate Program. These nurses are now empowered to advocate for vulnerable populations in their home communities using the leadership skills acquired through their training.
2016: $320,000 INVESTED IN PARTNERSHIP FOR MENTAL & PHYSICAL HEALTH
With the goal of transforming care for patients with both mental and physical illness, the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA) was established as a collaborative partnership led by SickKids, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Trillium Health Partners, and the University of Toronto, in conjunction with Ontario’s Health Ministry.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators helped support the MPA, enabling SickKids to identify interventions with the potential for scaling up. One example is a project on the effectiveness of an outpatient treatment program for adolescents (12 to 18 years) with obesity and psychiatric disorders, which helped participants normalize their eating, make healthier choices, and manage their mental health.
2105: $260,000 INVESTED IN IMAGE-GUIDED INTERVENTION
Combining robotics, imaging, and simulation, the Centre for Image-Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention (now known as the Posluns Centre) makes image-guided procedures faster, less painful, and safer.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators helped support the development of an endoscopic tool used for brain surgery. This dynamic tool expands a surgeon’s dexterity and allows them to operate through a small incision and opening in the skull. Building upon this success, the team created a prototype of a similar tool to work in tandem with an MRI, vastly improving accuracy. With innovations like these, brain surgeries will become less invasive and more effective.
2014: $190,000 INVESTED IN COMPASSIONATE CARE FOR FAMILIES
The Paediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) provides compassionate care to patients and families coping with serious, potentially life-limiting illness. Working with teams across SickKids, PACT focuses on comfort, quality of life, and grief support.
IMPACT: Support from SickKids Innovators enabled PACT to recruit and train two clinical fellows to manage and serve the 50 percent increase in referrals over previous years. The positions proved so valuable that PACT integrated the fellows into the team full-time, significantly increasing capacity for care with five physicians instead of three.
2013: $100,000 INVESTED IN THE PAIN CENTRE
More than 75 percent of SickKids patients experience pain. Through innovative pain management and prevention strategies, the Pain Centre at SickKids aims to minimize and eliminate pain for good.
IMPACT: SickKids Innovators supported three concept-stage research projects, including the use of a small robot to soothe young cancer patients. These studies informed SickKids and other centres on how to manage pain in less invasive ways, and enabled SickKids to seek additional funding for larger-scale studies. The findings were shared widely at pain conferences and through an Innovators-supported online pain curriculum with 10 education modules and more than 8,000 viewers.