2022 PSI Symposium Recap – Improving the Health of Ontarians: Past, Present, and Future

After two years of pandemic push back, PSI opportunely welcomed back our grantees, committees, and doctors to the 2022 PSI Symposium. This year’s symposium included a full day of PSI activities, including a resident presentation by Dr. Raed Joundi, open-floor and roundtable discussions, and three certified and accredited educational presentations* by Dr. P.J. Devereaux, Dr. Deborah Cook, and Dr. John Marshall. 

The day commenced with PSI president Dr. Robin Walker giving his opening remarks for the first ever in-person symposium since 2019, updating attendees on PSI’s 2021 impact report and activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, PSI began a COVID-19 funding stream to maintain support for our researchers during the pandemic, all the while giving a one-year blanket extension on all research funded during that period. PSI also increased grants funding support salaries through the PSI Graham Farquharson Knowledge Translation (KT) Fellowship award. 

PSI’s focus on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) was discussed by Ms. Giselle Bodkin. Commenting on the state of EDI at PSI, Ms. Bodkin stated: “if you don’t consciously include people, you unconsciously exclude them” – our slogan to intentional inclusion as a research grants provider in the Ontario healthcare space. Ms. Bodkin walked us over the steps PSI has taken so far, including having grantees self-identify in order to analyze the statistics and fill in any missing diversity gaps with such data. With the newly instated EDI committee, PSI hopes to create a more inclusive, diverse space for our grantees.  

PSI Governance Committee Chair Dr. John Drover presented a governance update, including what the committee will be focusing on for the next year. Dr. Drover’s focus is on revitalizing the governance committee to be more effective in support of research in Ontario. In regards to revitalization, Dr. Drover told the symposium that “we’ve been focusing on [next steps] to move us into the future.” This will be achieved in partnership with external firm Overlap Associates by utilizing strategic planning exercises in the upcoming months.

Our first presenter, Dr. P.J. Devereaux of McMaster University, focused on his Perioperative Care Program. 

Dr. Devereaux discussed perioperative cover (silent) stroke and its association with perioperative and 1-year outcomes, understanding the effects of perioperative aspirin, and research for the relevance of atrial fibrillation and chronic incisional pain. 

Our second presenter, Dr. Deborah Cook of McMaster University, gave a heartfelt presentation on how opportunities for early career investigators make a difference in their career: including how PSI helped to fund one of Dr. Cook’s studies early on in her career. “In most studies, the same senior investigators do the work. PSI focuses on enabling new investigators – I was one of them. It was the first validating grant I’ve received,” she noted. 

Dr. Cook commented on PSI’s support for her over the years, stating that groups have an organizational culture. “I think of the way a personality is to an individual, organizational culture is to a group,” she said. “I was struck early on by the open-minded, communicative approach of [Executive Director] Sam Moore through PSI, and learned a little more of the organizational culture beyond the myth and the vision that is being actively refreshed.” 

Dr. Cook then focused on three women physician-led PSI funded studies that made impactful changes in the critical care realm: including Dr. Jennifer Johnson’s study on probiotics in the immunocompromised, Dr. Joanna Dionne’s study on diarrhea, and Dr. Brittany Dennis’ study on end-of-life care during the pandemic. 

PSI Resident Research grantee, Dr. Raed Joundi, presented his 15-year study on temporal trends in stroke incidence and outcomes in Ontario. Dr. Joundi thanked PSI for the support he received, which he ascribed as vital to establishing his career early on. 

Presenter Dr. John Marshall of University of Toronto spoke about PSI’s three decades of support in his research, and how, as he stated: “support from PSI Foundation has been critical to allow [him] to move forward” in his research since the early 1990s. His presentation included the topic of how biomedical research in critical care can change medical practice and patient lives. Dr. Marshall’s first funded research project looked into the role of gut liver axis in the pathogensis of Multiple Organ Failure. “I see PSI as the seed that can allow grant visions to take shape…my first funding came from PSI Foundation,” he said. 

Dr. Marshall spoke of the importance and “extraordinary power” of collaboration; especially that of PSI’s collaboration with grantees, peer reviewers, and researchers; and how it is vital to furthering the world of medical research. With the analogy of the Hubble Space telescope and an “unprecedented collaboration of scientists,” Dr. Marshall connected PSI’s grants funding streams to how PSI has helped further research – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A panel discussion was then hosted by panelists Dr. John Marshall, Dr. Andrea Gershon, Dr. Naana Jumah, Dr. Ishrat Husain, and Dr. Deborah Cook. This discussion was based on key guiding questions, such as ‘what the future of physician-led medical research should look like,’ ‘what role physicians should play in shaping the future of medical research,’ andwhat the greatest challenges and opportunities facing clinician researchers are now and moving forward.’ PSI has taken into account the feedback provided to us from these needed discussions, and plan to integrate it into our organization moving forward.

We thank all who attended our symposium this year. PSI will continue striving towards fulfilling our mission of improving the health of Ontarians, through the support of physician-led research and education in the years to come.

Check out our YouTube playlist for exclusive video content from the PSI 2022 Symposium.

*This event is an Accredited Group Learning Activity as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and approved by the Continuing Education and Professional Development Office at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. 

PSI Foundation 2019 Annual Meeting Focuses on Knowledge Translation

Physicians and researchers representing different disciplines, organizations and career stages attended PSI Foundation’s annual meeting on April 24, 2019 in Toronto. The meeting, with its focus on knowledge translation (KT), featured presentations and roundtable discussions, as well as networking opportunities for those who attended.

Knowledge translation is meant to improve outcomes for patients

Using different examples of research, the morning’s speakers demonstrated the challenges and barriers associated with KT, but also its importance in improving patient outcomes.

Dr. John Sievenpiper, a physician-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and the 2015 Graham Farquharson Knowledge Translation Fellow, spoke about how research and KT have helped to inform clinical practice guidelines around dietary recommendations related to sugars and cardiometabolic health. With current popular diets favouring extremely low sugar consumption, Dr. Sievenpiper’s team performed meta-analyses of trials and observational studies examining the role of sugar-sweetened beverages and other sweet foods (including fruit juice, fruit and yogurt) in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

The evidence suggests that while sugar-sweetened beverages have adverse associations with health, the association for other foods is not as simple. These studies have informed clinical practice guidelines to move away from dietary recommendations focused on one nutrient or a one-size-fits all approach to something more tailored: the best diet is the one that patients will adhere to.

Questions and Answers after Dr. John Sievenpiper's presentation

Dr. Andrea Gershon, a scientist and respirologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the 2013 Graham Farquharson Knowledge Translation Fellow, spoke about her research to improve care for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as an example of the KT cycle. She and her team identified knowledge gaps, for example the lack of quality measures for COPD, then researched existing knowledge through literature reviews and expert panels.

Diagnosis of COPD provided an example of another part of the KT cycle – assessing barriers and developing ways to overcome them. While pulmonary function tests (PFT) are the gold standard for diagnosis of COPD, only 35% of diagnosed patients actually received one. Her team identified the barrier – a belief that PFT does not improve outcomes – and found evidence from population and health databases that showed that patients who received PFT did have better outcomes. They are now using this knowledge to develop strategies targeting both clinicians and patients to increase rates of PFT.

With these two specific research examples in mind, Dr. Sharon Straus, Director of the KT Program at St. Michael’s Hospital and a professor at the University of Toronto, discussed different KT strategies and potential barriers that can hinder the process. Key barriers include:

  • The sheer volume of knowledge. With thousands of papers published every day, it’s impossible for a practising physician to keep up.
  • Strategies that only target individual physicians. Instead, strategies need to include the provincial health care system and workflows at individual hospitals.
  • Lack of evaluation and sustainability. These ideas should be incorporated into KT strategies right from the beginning.

In the roundtable discussion that followed, participants emphasized the importance of understanding and engaging the end user when developing KT strategies, the need for institutional cultures that support changes to workflows and processes, and the importance of learning about KT and opportunities for mentorship earlier in medical education, while recognizing that KT is its own specialized field. Finally, patient engagement in the research process was discussed, including considering them as stakeholders in grant review panels and as end users of the research.

Roundtable discussions

Business meeting features highlights of PSI’s history and plans for the future

The afternoon began with the Foundation’s business meeting, with reports from the committee chairs included in the Annual Report. Board member Dr. Deborah Cook provided a history of PSI Foundation and statistics about the number and types of grants funded, and Dr. Bill Hemens, President of PSI’s board, provided an update on PSI’s 50th anniversary plans for next year, which include the establishment of a mid-career award and a Knowledge Translation Fellow in Mental Health and Addiction, and hosting the Health Research Alliance’s meeting in Toronto in September 2020.

With this context, most of the afternoon consisted of roundtable discussion about ideas to help improve PSI Foundation. Many participants emphasized the importance of PSI’s community grants and suggested ways to improve support for community-based physician-researchers, as well as provided ideas to help connect and engage researchers, physicians and medical students.

PSI thanks all of the participants of the annual meeting for attending and contributing to the productive discussions.

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.

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