IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia
QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia
“Wow! That’s amazing. I never even suspected that.” This is the typical comment I get when people find out about the research being done at our academic health science centres, the QEII and the IWK. Each year, hundreds of studies are done here. Most are done in a very effective partnership amongst the health care system and the university system, usually Dalhousie University.
Research ranges from basic science through to clinical and implementation research. Physicians, psychologists, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and many other health professionals are involved.
Research benefits patients in many ways. First of all, patients get exposure to the best and latest treatments because of research involvement. When you are on a clinical trial, you have more people on your team looking out for your health.
The opportunity to do research is an attraction for the best and the brightest specialists. Many would not come to or stay in Nova Scotia without this opportunity.
Clinician-scientists are up on the latest and best developments in their field. If you have a serious illness, would you like to have world expert knowledge at work caring for you? That happens all of the time at the IWK and the QEII. Even having the hospital you go to involved in clinical research trials may improve your outcome, even if you were not in a trial yourself.
About $35-40 million dollars are brought into Nova Scotia each year by health centre research. So health research is good for the economy. Most of that money is spent on research staff which creates well paying jobs here in Nova Scotia.
There are also spin off companies and licensing agreements that bring in money and jobs to Nova Scotia. In my own research, our spinoff company, the not-for-profit Strongest Families Institute, delivers mental health care at a distance to over 2000 families a year across Canada and employs 30 people here in Nova Scotia.
Health research done in Nova Scotia has and continues to improve the health of Nova Scotians. A healthy population is more productive and pays more taxes but more importantly, individuals and families have years of additional quality of life. The truck driver in Yarmouth who got better care for his stroke and was able to return to work benefitted from research done in Nova Scotia. The pregnant woman who was vaccinated during pregnancy and avoided catching the flu, and perhaps dying benefitted from research done in Nova Scotia. The child cancer patient whose treatment was effective benefitted from research done in Nova Scotia.
Health research in Nova Scotia is a partnership. We partner with the funding agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, health charities who support research such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation and companies that we contract with. In addition we partner with generous donors who give money to advance research through the QEII Foundation and the IWK Foundation. Without their support, local researchers would not be competitive in national competitions. The IWK and QEII Foundations often have articles about local research in IZAAK and the QEII Times.
I will devote some of my future blogs to featuring research that is making a difference to patients in Nova Scotia.
~Dr. Patrick McGrath