2020 Lawson Impact Awards Recipients

Scientist of the Year Award

Dr. Chris McIntyre

Dr. Chis McIntyre is a world expert and leader in the fields of nephrology and applied imaging, with focus on cardiac injury due to dialysis. Cardiac stunning, one of the major causes for the development of cardiorenal syndrome type IV, was discovered by Dr. McIntyre. His research has improved the prognosis and quality of life of patients with end-stage kidney disease on renal replacement therapy around the world.  

As the director of the Kidney Clinical Research Unit (KCRU), Dr. McIntyre has created a well-integrated, diverse, multidisciplinary research team focused largely on the pathophysiology of chronic kidney disease (CKD) that affects the cardio vascular system, brain, liver, and gastrointestinal structure and function. Dr. McIntyre’s has made patient and public engagement central to the research conducted at KCRU.   

Throughout his career, Dr. McIntyre’s has published in several high-impact journals including BMJ, Nature Reviews Nephrology, Kidney International, and more. He has an outstanding reputation internationally as a highly sought-after speaker.  

Dr. McIntytre is an exceptional mentor to many. The trainees who benefitted from his training have gone on to academic appointments, and many of the undergraduate students taking part in research projects in his lab are now pursuing graduate and post-graduate training. Over the past 15 years, he has supported over 100 young researchers.

Innovation Award

Dr. Cheryl Forchuk

Dr. Cheryl Forchuk is recognized for her work to prevent discharges from hospital to homelessness. Her project, ‘Preventing Hospital Discharge into Homelessness: No Fixed Address Version 2 (NFAv2)’ streamlines housing and income services by bringing them into the hospital, integrating them into a coordinated system of care.   

This research is aimed at finding best practice approaches to prevent homelessness in our community. Version one of this program was a great success, providing direct access to a housing advocate and Ontario Works from inpatient hospital psychiatric units in London. The No Fixed Address v2 program provides individual inpatients, at risk of becoming homeless, with housing and financial assistance while in hospital. A team approach including the local Canadian Mental Health Association, the Salvation Army Rent Stability Bank, Ontario Works and the City of London brings community supports to the hospital. This enables patients to recover from their illness and reduces patients returning to the hospital.    

Dr. Forchuk’s use of in-depth individual quantitative interviews and qualitative focus groups allows stakeholders to voice their experiences with the program as well as capturing traditional outcomes. This innovative program has the potential to be integrated across the province as the best practice in reducing homelessness in communities. Her efforts have been recognized by multiple funding agencies, and it will soon be the model for the rest of the nation to follow.

Dr. Joseph Gilbert Research Contribution Award

Dr. Bekim Sadikovic

Dr. Bekim Sadikovic is recognized for his publication, “Diagnostic Utility of Genome-wide DNA Methylation Testing in Genetically Unsolved Individuals with Suspected Hereditary Conditions” in the American Journal of Human Genetics. His work was selected by the National Human Genome Research Institute as one of the ten most influential studies in clinical genomics in 2019, which involve the use of genomic information from an individual as part of their clinical care to improve the health outcomes for a target population.  

The study developed a machine-learning model to concurrently detect genetic neurodevelopmental syndromes using epigenetic DNA methylation patterns in patient’s blood, called episignatures. His research has led to the development of new technology called EpiSign, which enables molecular diagnosis beyond conventional clinical genetic testing. EpiSign has recently been launched in Europe and North America as the world-first clinical test for diagnosis of rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorders. EpiSign currently enables diagnosis of over 60 genetic neurodevelopmental disorders, with ongoing expansion in other genetic disorders and oncology.   

Dr. Sadikovic’s work received a Genome Canada grant for $4.7 million, funding a national clinical trial (EpiSign-CAN) which will test 4,000 patients across Canada to assess the clinical and health system impact data required for routine implementation of this technology.   

Dr. Sadikovic has made significant contributions to the field of molecular biology and its direct application to clinical medicine, and biomarker and diagnostic technologies in areas including hereditary genetics, paediatrics, adult neurodevelopment, and cancer. 

Staff Award of Excellence

Dr. Janice DeMoor

Dr. Janice DeMoor is the manager of Lawson’s Grant Development team. Throughout her time in this role, Janice has been devoted to supporting Lawson scientists, trainees, and residents in advancing their research career. She has been instrumental in establishing the grant development team at Lawson to support researchers, and ensures that her team operates with the same level of drive and efficiency as herself.  

Dr. DeMoor serves as an excellent role model and mentor, openly sharing her knowledge and experience with peers from across the industry. She is a generous manager and has greatly enriched collaborative efforts across the organization, including the establishment of a patient engagement initiative at Lawson.  

Dr. DeMoor is highly respected within the research community due to her knowledge of funding opportunities and grantsmanship, her dedication to her work, and commitment to her team. She is an exemplary and supportive manager, fostering her team in developing their skills, finding their passion in the field, and supporting them in related projects. She is a great leader, exemplified by her team’s attitude and work ethic.

Leadership Award for Fellows and Students

Stephanie Marrocco

Stephanie Marrocco is a PhD candidate working with Dr. Dalton Wolfe at Parkwood Institute, a part of St. Joseph’s Health Care London. Her doctoral research focuses on practice patterns of physiotherapists to determine which practices are associated with the best possible outcomes in persons with spinal cord (SCI) and acquired brain injury (ABI). Her work involves mobilizing physiotherapists, hospital leadership and researchers towards greater collaboration.   

Stephanie is an invaluable part of her lab, helping to develop and implement experiential learning opportunities for Health Studies and Kinesiology students as well as mentoring students one on one.   

Stephanie is an exceptional leader and strong advocate of the “exercise as medicine” perspective. Stephanie co-led two program retreats for the Parkwood SCI Rehabilitation Program and has helped develop a national strategy for physical activity programming for persons with SCI. She is formerly a representative for the Lawson Association of Students and Fellows, the first representative of this committee placed at Parkwood Institute Research. Stephanie offers a student perspective and advocates for trainees at Parkwood Institute Research and maintains a leadership role on the Research to Practice team.

Industry Partner of the Year

Rogers Communications

Rogers Communications (Rogers) is a leader in smart home security services, mobile services, and a valued industry partner. Rogers has worked with Lawson to support leading-edge research for the use of smart technologies within health care. Rogers has been involved with multiple smart technology projects. The “TELPROM-Y” project uses a mobile health smartphone application to improve the mental health of youth between the ages of 14 to 25. Rogers provides talk, text and data plans at discounted rates for youth so they can participate in the research. Rogers has helped tremendously with the recruitment of participants and accommodates the need for privacy and confidentiality. Contributions made by Rogers help improve the lives of individuals experiencing mental health issues.

Community Partner of the Year Awards

Keith Samitt
London Health Sciences Foundation  

 Keith Samitt has been supporting the London Health Sciences Foundation since 2003. He is a passionate advocate for collaborative cancer research. For the past 17 years, Mr. Samitt has been dedicated to supporting research and innovation in urologic oncology, head and neck cancer, and metastasis studies through the Gerald C. Baines Centre for Translational Cancer Research, and the Cancer Catalyst Grants Program. The impact of his support is evident in the SABR COMET trial, research on circulating tumour cells, and pancreatic cancer research. He also served on the Cancer Campaign Cabinet volunteer committee during London Health Sciences Foundation’s $200 million campaign, and has hosted awareness events in his home to inspire the community to give.   

Canadian Pacific
Children’s Health Foundation  

Since 2014, Canadian Pacific (CP) has supported the Children’s Health Foundation and is dedicated to improving the heart health of children in our community. The launch of the CP Healthy Hearts Research Fund supported discoveries of new prevention techniques, as well as better therapies and cures for threats to children’s heart health. CP’s generous donations are empowering Lawson researchers; Dr. Thomas Drysdale to uncover the causes of congenital heart defects, Dr. Jason Gilliland to reduce obesity in children through large-scale interventions, and Dr. Kambiz Norozi to investigate how remote counseling can influence lifestyle changes in kids with cardiac issues. CP’s leadership is helping our researchers and doctors to enhance cardiac health of paediatric patients.  

William and Lynne Gray
St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation   

Since 1980, William and Lynne Gray have supported St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation by donating to various areas of research. They have generously contributed to research in the field of urology through their support of the Miriam Burnett Chair in Urological Sciences. Mr. and Mrs. Gray also made a substantial investment that helped with the creation of the Gray Centre in Mobility and Activity at Parkwood Institute, a part of St. Joseph’s Health Care London. The Centre was the first of its kind in Canada. Their philanthropic support has helped advance healthcare in our community, contributing to new medical technology and fueling new discoveries.