ECRI Research Day

Personalizing Medicine: Improving Cancer Care from Cells to Communities

By: Anne Snider | January 30, 2015 | Blog

On Friday January 30, 2015, over 100 ECRI scientists, staff, students and colleagues met to explore  research opportunities and challenges that reflected their commitment to conducting inspiring research : because every patient matters. Thirty-two posters reflected the wide range of activity and productivity within the ECRI community. Following Research Day, the posters will be available for viewing on the JCC 4th Floor over the month of February.


CELLS: From the chance finding of a virus in the Brazilian Sandfly, shown in the lab to significantly reduce tumours in mice, scientists in the McMaster Immunology Research Centre (MIRC) and ECRI are collaborating to bring the National Cancer Institute of Canada Phase 1 Maraba trial to patients in the Hamilton region. This collaboration between laboratory- based scientists and clinical researchers represents over a decade of laboratory work to prepare this promising new oncolytic virus for testing in humans and over a decade of Phase 1 experience in the JCC Clinical Trials Department. This emerging biological therapies group is building the potential to be a one-stop shop to evaluate novel cancer therapeutics. (Brian Lichty and Sebastien Hotte)

EVALUATING HEALTH CARE TECHNOLOGIES: Unlike the rigour that is required to bring a new drug to clinical practice, the health care system is populated with many technologies that have never been evaluated. Once taken up in practice, these technologies become difficult to question and often the true value of their effects are unknown. ECRI researchers collaborating across nuclear medicine and radiation oncology are playing a leadership role in evaluating PET imaging, brachytherapy, stereotactic radiation therapies, and hypofractionation. In an environment of scarce health care resources, both patients and policy makers deserve this level of evaluation. (Tim Whelan)


CLINICAL TRIALS: No ECRI gathering would be complete without some level of irreverence. With reference to a long overlooked, yet highly rigourous, n of 4 RCT of dietary supplements referenced in great detail in the Bible to help frame the discussion, we were treated to opposing considerations on the future of cancer clinical trials by Dr. Over the Hill and Dr. Young Buck. Ever optimistic, ECRI scientists hope to continue to shape cancer trials well into the future. (Ian Dayes, Mark Levine)

IMPLEMENTATING RESEARCH: ECRI is a core part of the JHCC community. The group considered the challenges of implementing meaningful research findings that align with the strategic priorities of the cancer program, supporting innovation – both predictable innovation and disruptive innovation, and ultimately improving the patient experience. This will be an important area of focus in the coming year. (Ralph Meyer)

COMMUNITIES: ECRI researchers are working closely with LHIN leaders and patients to improve the delivery and experience of palliative care. Understanding the distribution and utilization of palliative care resources through evaluation of large health care datasets helps administrators and policy makers understand where to target resources for most impactful and sustainable effect. Linking this information with patient stories of their experience with palliative care keeps the agenda on track. This unique partnership between ECRI scientists, policy makers, and patients provides a powerful example of how working together with a shared goal can improve the system and improve the patient experience. (Susan King, Hsien Seow)

USE OF EVIDENCE: Molecular targeted therapies and the patient experience are changing how evidence is gathered, disseminated, and evaluated. The group considered methodological challenges for practice guidelines and statistical analysis posed by these new and emerging scientific and community priorities. (M. Brouwers, G. Pond)


A good day amongst good friends and colleagues. We look forward to continuing discussion around the ideas and issues raised at this year’s Research Day over the coming months. And to reconvening next year to celebrate our progress.


Click here for the 2015 ECRI Research Day Program

Click here for the abstracts of poster presentations for the 2015 ECRI Research Day.

Video presentation of Dr. Over-The-Hill  vs  Dr. Young Buck a fun debate from Research Day.