2018 Lawson Impact Awards Recipients
Scientist of the Year Award
Dr. Robert Teasell
Dr. Robert Teasell is considered a global leader in stroke rehabilitation research and has been instrumental in transforming neurorehabilitation clinical care across Canada. He has led the development of three internationallyrenowned evidence-based reviews for stroke rehabilitation, brain injury and spinal cord injury, which are regarded as the three most comprehensive research syntheses in neurorehabilitation in the world. Dr. Teasell has advised and helped plan stroke care for all of Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and six provincial healthcare systems. This is in addition to the many clinical guidelines and models of care he has helped develop and update to inform clinicians how to best apply available evidence to patient care. Dr. Teasell has also published extensively on chronic pain research with a recent focus on the role of obsessive personality traits in determining chronic pain disability and coping abilities. He has authored 326 peer-reviewed articles, as well as many other collaborative group peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, published abstracts, posters, presentations and monographs. He has also been the editor for 14 special journal editions and is on the editorial board for Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, Journal of Rehabilitation, and Pain Research and Management. Drawing on his clinical and research expertise, Dr. Teasell has supervised many students and has been committed to developing the next generation of medical researchers.
Dr. Mandar Jog
Dr. Mandar Jog is recognized for his publication, “Functional Ability Improved in Essential Tremor by IncobotulinumtoxinA Injections Using Kinematically Determined Biomechanical Patterns—A New Future,” published in PLOS ONE. Tremors, typically caused by Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor, are a common movement disorder symptom, yet there is no effective treatment. Botulinum toxin has been identified as a possible treatment; however, if the injection of botulinum toxin is given in the wrong place or the patient is not given the correct dose, it can cause negative side effects. Another challenge is that everyone experiences tremors in different ways. The location and strength of the movements, and how often they occur varies widely. Using sensor technology, Dr. Jog and his team were able to isolate independent muscle movements. They created a system that matched the muscle activity pinpointed by the sensors with the correct amount of botulinum toxin to administer. This kinematic technology can be applied to the pre-treatment assessment of patients and the information generated can guide the placement of botulinum toxin. Through clinical trials, participants have experienced striking improvements to the severity of their tremors after receiving the assessment and tailored injections. Up until this time, the only option for patients whose tremors could not be managed pharmacologically was deep brain stimulation, an invasive procedure with operative risks. Dr. Jog’s innovative approach could also be more widely applicable to a number of different movement disorders.
Dr. Joseph Gilbert Research Contribution of the Year Award
Dr. Manuel Montero-Odasso
Dr. Manuel Montero-Odasso is recognized for his publication, “Association of Dual-Task Gait With Incident Dementia in Mild Cognitive Impairment,” published in JAMA Neurology. Currently there is no definitive way for health care professionals to forecast the onset of dementia in a patient with memory complaints. His publication demonstrates that gait, or motion testing, while simultaneously performing a cognitively demanding task can be an effective predictor of progression to dementia and eventually help with earlier diagnosis. The study is assessing seniors with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a slight decline of memory and other mental functions, which is considered a pre-dementia syndrome. Researchers asked participants to walk while simultaneously performing a cognitively demanding task, such as counting backwards or naming animals. Individuals with MCI that slow down more than 20 per cent while performing a cognitively demanding task are at a higher risk of progressing to dementia. The “gait cost,” or speed at which participants completed a single task (walking) versus a dual-task, was higher in those MCI individuals with worse episodic memory and who struggle with executive functions such as attention keeping and time management. The results reveal a ‘motor signature’ of cognitive impairment that can be used to predict dementia. The hope is to combine these methods with promising new medications to slow or halt the progression of MCI to dementia.
Industry Partner of the Year Award
London X-Ray Associates
London X-Ray Associates (LXA) provides diagnostic medical imaging services in the London community and hospitals across southwestern Ontario, and has been a significant collaborator of the Lawson Imaging research program for the past 30 years. After St. Joseph’s Health Care London installed its first CT scanner in 1986, financial and operational support from LXA contributed to Lawson becoming a world leader in CT Perfusion research. This support continued through the years. Beginning in 2008, Lawson Imaging initiated the introduction of a PET hybrid imaging program, including a cyclotron facility, PET/CT scanner, photoacoustic imaging and Canada’s first PET/MRI scanner in 2012. LXA provided funding and dedicated research time of their radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians to help Lawson Imaging recruit scientists, strengthen research in new areas, and secure grants, making the program a success. LXA is now working with Lawson Imaging to launch a new initiative aimed at introducing new imaging and therapy technologies to London.
Community Partner of the Year Award
CAISA Fashion Show
Organized by Western University’s Canadian Asian International Student Association (CAISA), the CAISA Fashion Show is one of the largest student-run charity fashion shows in Canada. With a team of over a hundred executive members, performers, and models, they produce one of the most anticipated shows in the London community. CAISA Fashion Show has been supporting Children’s Health Foundation since 2002. The funds raised by the event have enabled innovation and discovery in the areas of concussion research, epigenetics, personalized medicine, stem cell research and novel models of genetic research.
London Run for Ovarian Cancer
The London Run for Ovarian Cancer (RFOC) has been supporting London Health Sciences Foundation for 16 years. Proceeds from the annual run were instrumental in initiating and developing the Translational Ovarian Cancer Research Program (TOCRP) at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in 2007. The TOCRP is now a well-recognized research group in the field and has built one of the largest human ovarian cancer primary cell line repositories in the world. The research performed at the TOCRP to help improve the lives of women facing ovarian cancer in London, Canada and around the world, would not be possible without the Run for Ovarian Cancer.
Kyle MacDonald and John Franklin
Kyle and John began supporting St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation in 2014. In 2017, to honour their fathers, both of whom had distinguished careers in the Canadian military, they made the largest single philanthropic gift to Veterans Care at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute in the history of the program. Kyle and John directed a significant portion of their gift to establish The MacDonald/Franklin Operational Stress Injury Research Centre at Parkwood Institute. These funds will be used to advance research into operational stress injuries to develop, test and evaluate new and effective treatments to enhance care for those who have experienced a psychological injury as a result of their military service.
Staff Award of Excellence
Sarah Best is a research manager for the Cognitive Clinical Research Group at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute. Sarah’s leadership has resulted in an increase in the volume and complexity of trials for people with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease by growing a team of skilled, well-trained staff. Her attention to detail has helped with the retention of participants in the research group’s increasingly more complex and longer studies. She readily passes on her knowledge and dedication to excellence by mentoring the Lawson trainees that have worked with the research group over the years. In her national role as budget officer for the Consortium of Canadian Centres for Clinical Cognitive Research and platform implementation team member for the National COMPASS-ND Study, she has helped to raise the profile of Lawson and Parkwood Institute as national leaders in dementia research. Sarah’s caring and mentoring management style creates an environment that motivates staff to do their best.
Sheila Fleming is executive assistant to Dr. David Hill, Lawson’s scientific director, but she also provides support in a variety of ways to the entire Lawson administration team and research community. Just one of the many examples of this is the invaluable support she provides Lawson’s Communications team in the planning of Lawson’s annual signature events: London Health Research Day (LHRD), Lawson Impact Awards and Café Scientifiques. The strong relationships she has built across Lawson, as well as hospital and academic partners, have made her a “hub” for the entire organization. Her outstanding relationship-building skills also support Dr. Hill’s advocacy efforts. Sheila always considers the needs of scientists, staff and trainees, and she is a passionate advocate for them. She does whatever she can to help ensure Lawson researchers succeed and that their work makes a difference.
Leadership Award for Fellows & Students
Amanda McIntyre is a PhD candidate in nursing working with Dr. Robert Teasell’s research team at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute. Amanda began as a research assistant in 2011 and has built an impressive academic record, while at the same time obtaining a nursing degree from Western University and then going on maternity leave for a year. Amanda has been an author on 50 peer-reviewed publications, 13 of which she was first author. Amanda is the senior member and leader of Dr. Teasell’s research team assuming a supervisory role to many students and volunteers. She has been integral to creating a highly collaborative and productive research environment. Her research interests cross the continuum of health care from the Emergency Room to rehabilitation in the community. She is the project coordinator and an editor of the Spinal Cord Injury Evidence-Based Review, and took an active role in the Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Rehabilitation Care. She received a St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation fellowship award to examine the transition of stroke rehabilitation patients into the community. Her doctoral research will focus on the delivery and access of care in emergency departments and the influence this has on patient outcomes. Amanda is also the graduate students’ representative on the Nursing Research Advisory Committee at Western University, allowing her to act as an advocate for current and future nursing students. In addition to her many research obligations, Amanda continues to take regular nursing shifts to build her clinical experience.