Update to PSI’s Areas of Non-Support: Mental Health

Mental Health Research Now Eligible Under All Funding Streams

PSI is pleased to announce that we now accept grant applications in the area of mental health. Please visit our Funding Programs section for revised funding guidelines. Clinician researchers in the area of mental health are welcome to submit their application under the appropriate funding stream (e.g. New Investigator), as there is no longer a dedicated mental health funding stream.

Previously, PSI had a separate mental health research funding stream offered through a Letter of Intent process. This revision will provide flexibility to clinician researchers to submit mental health grant applications to PSI at any time.

Stay Connected

Follow us on Twitter @PSIFoundation for the latest news and updates, such as updated application forms and policy revisions.

Grants Approved in November 2018

Results from November 2018 Grants Committee Meeting

PSI Foundation is pleased to announce that 7 operating grants were approved totalling $679,500. In addition to these grants, PSI awarded three 2019 Research Trainee Fellowships for $150,000 ($50,000 per award) and one 2019 Graham Farquharson Knowledge Translation Fellowship for $300,000. For more information regarding these funded studies, please visit the Funded Research page. PSI Foundation would like to thank all of our applicants for submitting their applications.

Stay Connected

We invite you to follow us on Twitter  to stay on top of PSI news, including new funding opportunities and updates to our funding guidelines.

Dr. Christopher Witiw: Focusing on the Value of Spine Surgery

Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM)

Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is the leading cause of spinal cord impairments in adults worldwide. Recent evidence indicates that surgical intervention for DCM is associated with improved function and quality of life, regardless of disease severity. Albeit effective, surgery for DCM remains costly. Moreover, wait times for spine surgery in Ontario remain lengthy and this is likely to continue as the population ages. Health policymakers require an assessment of quality and value of surgery to develop an informed decision and optimize health resource allocation.

Cost-Effectiveness of Surgery for DCM – Dr. Christopher Witiw and Dr. Michael Fehlings

Through PSI’s Resident Research funding stream, Dr. Christopher Witiw, along with his supervisor Dr. Michael G. Fehlings of Toronto Western Hospital, conducted a study to determine the cost effectiveness of surgical intervention for DCM. The investigators found that surgery provided a Headshot - Dr. Christopher Witiwsignificant improvement in quality of life and by using health economic calculations; they determined that 97.9% of interventions are very cost-effective relative to non-operative management. This finding suggests that resource allocation toward improving access to spinal surgery for those with debilitating condition is an effective allocation of resources. These findings will serve to provide surgeons and policymakers with the evidence needed to guide decision-making and optimize healthcare expenditures.

“This resident research grant, which I received from the PSI Foundation was a tremendous resource. The funding was instrumental in providing the means to combine my research training in health economics with my clinical focus on spine surgery to complete this important evaluation of the value of surgery for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy.”

Impact of the Findings

Dr. Witiw was awarded the highly prestigious North American Spine Society Outstanding Paper Award for the manuscript based upon the findings of the study, which was published in The Spine Journal. Moreover, the data has been presented at numerous international spine surgical conferences and have been honoured with prestigious awards from a number of spinal surgical societies. Furthermore, the findings have been recently incorporated into international surgical guidelines regarding the management of Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy. Despite the success in knowledge translation to the academic spine surgery community thus far, Dr. Witiw believes more is needed to disseminate these findings to those responsible for healthcare resource allocation.

“Much of the care provided by spine surgeons is costly, but at the same time makes a tremendously positive impact on a patient’s quality of life. As healthcare resources become increasingly strained, more research pertaining to cost-effectiveness is needed to empower physicians to work with health policy makers to provide optimal care.”

Future Directions

Dr. Witiw has recently completed his neurosurgical residency training at the University of Toronto and is currently spending 1 year enrolled in a Spinal Neurosurgery Fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Here he is focusing on learning minimally invasive techniques for spine surgery, with the goals of lessening post-operative pain, reducing length of hospital stay and complications and optimizing outcomes. Following this, he plans to return to Toronto to a position as a spine surgeon at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital where he hopes to continue his work on studying and improving the value of spine surgery for patients in Ontario.

Grants Approved in September 2018

PSI Foundation is pleased to announce that 11 grants were approved at the September 2018 Grants Committee meeting. For more information regarding these funded studies, please visit the Funded Research page.

PSI Foundation would like to thank all of our applicants for submitting their research proposals. We invite you to follow us on Twitter  to stay on top of PSI news, including new funding opportunities and updates to our funding guidelines.

Connecting with Clinician Researchers in Ontario

PSI Lunch & Learn Workshops

What is PSI Lunch & Learn?

PSI Lunch & Learn workshops are designed for clinician researchers in Ontario to increase their understanding of PSI’s funding programs and priorities, as well as connect new investigators with well-established PSI grantees. Through this program, PSI aims to connect with our stakeholders from the six medical universities in Ontario and have a greater understanding of barriers that exist in undertaking research funding opportunities.

Recent Workshops at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Centre for Education Research & Innovation (CERI) 

In June, PSI hosted Lunch & Learn workshops at two institutions: Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Centre for Education Research & Innovation (CERI) at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. We had the pleasure of having well-established PSI grantees join us at our workshops to present their successful experiences in research. At CHEO, Dr. Nancy Dudek shared her experience with PSI from a grantee’s perspective, from submitting an application to publishing numerous journal articles in the areas of medical education and amputee rehabilitation. She also provided the attendees with some tips she has learned along the way, when applying for PSI grants. At CERI, Dr. Patrick Luke presented his research in organ transplantation and demonstrated how his PSI grants have helped him establish a strong research program. In addition to the PSI grantees’ presentations, both workshops also included a presentation by PSI, as well as questions and answers (Q&A) period. On behalf of PSI and its Board of Directors, we would like to thank all our attendees and presenters for joining us at our recent workshops.

Stay Connected with PSI

We hope to expand our Lunch & Learn workshops to more medical universities in the near future. To stay on top of the latest PSI news and upcoming events, we invite you to follow us on Twitter (@PSIFoundation).


2018 PSI Annual General Meeting

Every April, PSI Foundation invites stakeholders, including its House of Delegates, Board of Directors, recent grantees, and other guests, to take a look back at the previous year’s highlights. On April 25th, 2018, PSI had its 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto.

The meeting commenced with opening remarks and report by the PSI President, Dr. Jim King. During this first half of the meeting, our stakeholders engaged in PSI’s business. Dr. Andrew Baker, Grants Committee Chair, presented his report on the Foundation’s granting and program activities. Mr. John Sharp, Finance Committee Chair, tabled the 2017 audited financial statements for ratification; he, moreover, provided a brief financial summary.

In addition to the reports on granting activities and financial results, special guest Dr. James Rourke, former Dean of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland,  presented his report on PSI’s external review, which was completed in 2017. For more information on PSI’s highlights in 2017, please take a look at our 2017 Annual Report.

PSI’s business was followed by the Scientific Session. Three PSI grantees presented their projects and outcomes during this session: Dr. Jennie Johnstone from St. Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto, Dr. Andrew Morris from Sinai Health System, and Dr. Alex MacKenzie from University of Ottawa. Dr. Johnstone spoke about PROSPECT (PRObiotics to prevent Severe Pneumonia and Endotracheal Colonization Trial), emphasizing the importance of preventing ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP). Dr. Morris presented his work in Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs in critical care units, discussing the challenges in effective change management. Dr. MacKenzie shared the scale and complexity of rare diseases by outlining his research in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

In between these sessions, the attendees interacted with three PSI Resident Research grantees, who presented posters of their PSI grant at the meeting. This year’s resident poster presenters included Dr. Laurence Bernard from University of Ottawa, Dr. Benjamin Kwan from Western University, and Dr. Christopher Witiw from University of Toronto.

On behalf of PSI and its Board of Directors, we would like to thank all our attendees and presenters, including the scientific session, resident poster presenters, and Dr. James Rourke. PSI invites you to follow us on Twitter (@PSIFoundation) to stay on top of the latest news and updates.

Drs. Yaron Finkelstein and Suzanne Schuh: Predictors of Serious Outcomes in Infants with Bronchiolitis

Drs. Yaron Finkelstein and Suzanne Schuh’s PSI grant, BRonchiolitis Epidemiology: Air pollution and Trends of Hospitalization (The BREATH Study) was awarded in December 2014. Since then, their first manuscript, Predictors of Critical Care and Mortality in Bronchiolitis after Emergency Department Discharge, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Pediatrics. Moreover, its critical findings led to its selection as one of the top four out of more than 3,000 abstract submissions to the annual conference of the Pediatric Academic Societies. This was presented as a platform at the American Pediatric Associations Presidential Plenary on May 7th, 2018, at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre.

Follow us on Twitter (@PSIFoundation) to stay on top of the latest news and updates.

Stay Informed

Grant and foundation updates straight to your inbox.