2019 Lawson Impact Awards Recipients
Scientist of the Year Award
Dr. Guido Filler
Dr. Guido Filler is considered a leader in the fields of paediatric nephrology and clinical pharmacology, and world expert in measuring kidney function.
Dr. Filler has extensively studied the use of cystatin C, a new and superior marker for measuring how well the kidneys are working, called glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This marker has been successfully implemented in the clinical routine at London Health Sciences Centre, one of only three centres in Canada. The cystatin C-based so-called “Filler formula” is used globally to determine GFR based on cystatin C. This formula is the only one to be validated for the estimation of GFR in both children and adults. Dr. Filler’s papers rank among the highest cited manuscripts on the topic. Through the impact of his work, the use of cystatin C is now recommended in international guidelines.
Dr. Filler holds an impressive collection of publications. This collection includes 16 book chapters and 326 peer-reviewed manuscripts in international journals, as well as many manuscripts, abstracts and invitations to lecture at international conferences, and collaborating on studies in peer reviewed journals. His reputation is shown through his numerous invitations to speak at international conferences. An example is in 47 years, he is the only Canadian invited to speak at the International Pediatric Nephrology Seminar in Miami.
He shares passion for research with his students, having mentored many and bringing them to successful publication. The impact of his mentorship lasts with most of his trainees pursuing a career in medicine, some specializing in his area of expertise.
Dr. Don Richardson
Dr. Don Richardson is recognized for his publication, “Predicators of Long-Term Treatment Outcome in Combat and Peacekeeping Veterans with Military-Related PTSD,” published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Dr. Richardson has developed and maintained two clinical research databases: a database of self-reported measured by patients at intake at the Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) clinic and a treatment outcomes database. Through this data, he has clearly shown that military trauma populations are complex and are at greater risk of becoming resistant to treatment than most civilian trauma populations.
The research is aimed at addressing gold-standard treatment modalities for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their utility in military populations, as well as other therapies that may be beneficial. The research also focuses on the role of psychiatric comorbidities, and how they interact and impact symptom presentation, treatment, and presence of suicide behaviours.
Dr. Richardson’s ability to track changes in self-reported health status across treatment goals gives researchers unparalleled insight into the pharmacologic modalities best suited for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and veterans. Identifying less-than-optimal results for an individual patient allows the team to adjust the treatment plan accordingly.
Dr. Richardson’s innovative approach has the potential to identify medication interventions that are particularly well-suited for the complex needs of CAF members and veterans with OSIs, and those that are less effective than desired.
Dr. Joseph Gilbert Research Contribution of the Year Award
Dr. Sarah Morrow
Dr. Sarah Morrow is recognized for her publication, “Effect of Treating Acute Optic Neuritis with Bioequivalent Oral vs. Intravenous Corticosteroids: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” in JAMA Neurology.
Dr. Morrow’s research focuses on Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a chronic neurological disease. One important area of her research focuses on the use of corticosteroids for MS relapses, when a patient’s symptoms worsen. High dose corticosteroids are the standard of care for the treatment of relapses. This guideline is based off a 1992 landmark study that has been criticized for no clear evidence that the intravenous (IV) route is superior to taking the medication orally.
The study compared the equivalent doses of IV and oral corticosteroids for acute optic neuritis, an inflammatory disorder causing painful loss of vision typically in one eye, on visual recovery over six months, similar to the landmark study. Recruitment for the blinded, randomized clinical trial took three years to complete. They evaluated patients within hours of the referral, before randomization and treatment with either oral or IV corticosteroids.
Dr. Morrow’s publication successfully showed the bioequivalence of high dose oral and IV corticosteroids, meaning the two treatments methods achieve the same goal. She also showed that oral compliance with oral therapy is not an issue, and this route is preferred by MS patients. She demonstrated that oral treatment is less expensive, and more convenient and accessible for patients living in remote areas without easy access to IV treatment.
The results have led to a national and international change in the approach to treatment of optic neuritis, improving the care of persons with MS. Dr. Morrow’s research led to improved access to emergency care for people living with MS and drastically reduced MS treatment costs to the health care system.
Staff Award of Excellence
Saagar Walia is a research coordinator and manager for the Research 2 Practice Team lead by Dr. Dalton Wolfe. An essential member of the team, Saagar has demonstrated excellence across a variety of contexts – both internal to the research team and the broader Parkwood Institute Research programs at Lawson. He has also had a significant impact on several clinical programs at Parkwood Institute, a part of St. Joseph’s Health Care London, through his coordinative role in joint research-clinical initiatives.
Highly respected by all staff and partners, his dedication and leadership skills have represented Lawson provincially and nationally in his role of manager of various network activities. Saagar served as the manager of a national network called the Spinal Cord Injury Knowledge Mobilization Network (SCI KMN) and facilitated a year-long planning of a national network with several large sponsor organizations. This work laid the groundwork in engaging five academic health centres for the establishment of a new provincially-based network focusing on implementing best practices.
He has led the planning and coordinating of different events and activities and serves on various committees. A few examples of his impressive involvement secondary to his role as manager include serving on the Parkwood Institute Research Day committees, Parkwood Open House committees and the Lawson Central Human Resource Taskforce. Saagar continues to be a catalyst for facilitating the involvement and engagement of others.
Leadership Award for Fellows and Students
Laura Craven is a PhD candidate working with Dr. Jeremy Burton and Dr. Michael Silverman at St. Joseph’s Health Care London. Her doctoral research focuses on the translational use of faecal material transplant. Laura is on her way to be one of the world experts in the preparation, implementation and use of this new therapy, already the first author on two peer-reviewed journals.
Laura oversees many aspects of three clinical studies, and performs much of the lab analysis and bioinformatics. She is an integral part of the lab having trained and mentored numerous students, assisting them undertake their microbiome data analysis and learning how to prepare material for clinical studies.
Laura was a student representative on the organizing committee for “Exchange: A London Health Research Day Forum on Diversity and Inclusivity.” Currently, she sits on the executive committee for the Lawson Association of Students and Fellows (LAFS), where she promotes an engaging environment for students and trainees. She also offers a student perspective and advocates for the trainee voice in the planning of the London Health Research Day.
Leadership Award for Fellows and Students
Lawrence Yip is a PhD candidate in medical biophysics working with Dr. Jeffrey Carson’s research team in Imaging at Lawson Health Research Institute. Lawrence began as a research assistant in 2017. Lawrence has submitted a first author publication and is currently on the authorship list for five other projects.
His doctoral research focuses on using optimal imaging to provide improved visualization of breast cancer lesions during breast conserving surgery. Beyond his own research, Lawrence has been involved in multiple other research projects with different groups at Lawson Health Research Institute. His technical skills and knowledge of system development have been crucial in developing systems in a timely manner.
Lawrence is also an executive committee member of the Lawson Association of Fellows and Students (LAFS), as well as co-organizer and co-chair of Talks on Fridays (TOFS). Recently, he has joined the London Health Research Day Academic Committee, representing his fellow students and trainees in the planning of this large, citywide event. A teaching assistant for the Department of Medical Biophysics at Western University, Lawrence redesigned a fourth year thesis course that provides students the opportunity to develop their communication and research skills.
Industry Partner of the Year Award
GE Healthcare Canada
GE Healthcare Canada is a leader in providing healthcare services and products, particularly medical imaging products like MRI, and has been a long standing supporter of imaging in London, Ontario. GE has partnered with numerous imaging scientists at Lawson, including collaborations with Dr. Charles McKenzie over most of his 25-year career in MRI research. GE have provided tremendous support to research programs, including financial support, access to research prototype software and collaborating on the development of several important advances in MRI image reconstruction. GE is continuing to work with Lawson scientists to develop new applications for MRI.
Community Partner of the Year Awards
Breast Cancer Society of Canada
The Breast Cancer Society of Canada (BCSC) has been supporting Lawson Health Research Institute and London Health Sciences Centre since 1998 with the creation of the Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit (TBCRU) through a partnership with the London Regional Cancer Program. The Breast Cancer Society of Canada provides valuable financial support to four major programs through the TBCRU and has raised more than $10-million for breast cancer research. The unit joins scientists and clinicians together to translate research findings into improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of breast cancer. The BCSC’s support helps bring breakthroughs in the lab to the patient’s bedside as quickly as possible.
Legate Personal Injury Lawyers
Legate Personal Injury Lawyers have supported the Children’s Health Foundation since 2011. The firm supports individuals in taking back their lives after they’ve been permanently changed by injury. These experiences also inspire the firm to help stop injuries before they happen. Legate and Dobson donated a significant gift to support motor vehicle collision research led by Dr. Douglas Fraser. Dr. Fraser’s goal is to drive improvements in rear-occupant safety to prevent crash-related injuries, deaths and disabilities. The support of Legate Personal Injury Lawyers helps fund research to improve children’s health and their safety.
Since 1984, 3M Canada’s partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and St. Joseph’s Health Care London and Lawson has contributed to better health care in our community by supporting many areas of research, including rehabilitation, geriatric care and osteoporosis. Their contributions to research innovation and sharing knowledge in chronic wound management have been the catalyst for advancing this specialized area of care that crosses many disciplines. 3M Canada’s recent support, through the gift of the Dr. Frank Prato Research Chair in Molecular Imaging, provides opportunities to enhance Lawson’s Imaging Research program and help train the next generation of leaders.