Each hospital’s research mission has a rich history. At both hospital organizations, leaders recognized opportunities to leverage in-house experts to conduct research and improve care. However, they also recognized the challenge in supporting these activities without dedicated space and resources.
Through great foresight, our hospitals founded the official research institutes that serve as Lawson's foundation:
- 1983: Supported by Sister Mary Doyle, former Executive Director of St. Joseph's, the Sisters of St. Joseph's establish the hospital's official research institute. LHSC and Upjohn jointly open the Victoria Upjohn Clinical Research Unit at South Street Hospital (formerly Victoria Hospital), focusing on Phase I-III clinical trials.
- 1987: The St. Joseph's research institute is named the Lawson Research Institute (LRI) in honour of London businessman and philanthropist Colonel Tom Lawson and his wife, Miggsie Lawson - close friends of Sister Mary Doyle and major supporters of the research mission.
- 1990: Victoria Hospital takes over the operation of the clinical research unit at South Street, renaming it the Victoria Clinical Trials Centre.
- 1997: The Victoria Clinical Trials Centre is renamed London Health Sciences Centre Research Inc. and becomes a fully incorporated research institute overseeing all hospital-based research within London Health Sciences Centre sites: Victoria Hospital, University Hospital and South Street Hospital.
- 2000: LRI and LHSCRI merge to form a joint venture: Lawson Health Research Institute.
Today, this alliance allows researchers to move seamlessly between hospital locations and Western University. By pooling knowledge and resources, Lawson retains and develops the expertise, equipment and infrastructure that is crucial for innovation.
Since forming in 2000, Lawson has pioneered breakthroughs across various disciplines of health research and reached several institutional milestones.
- 2019: Lawson led research team is the first in the world to develop a new imaging tool, showed that MRI can be used to measure how the heart uses oxygen.
- 2019: New studies from Lawson and Western University found for the first time that HIV can be transmitted through the sharing of equipment used to prepare drugs before injection and that a simple intervention can destroy the HIV virus, preventing that transmission.
- 2019: In the first genomic analysis of head and neck cancer by smoking status, researchers at Lawson, in collaboration with researchers at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and UCLA Cancer Centre, carried out a comprehensive genetic analysis of HPV-negative tumours to better understand the link between smoking and cancer recovery.
- 2019: Lawson scientists develop molecular diagnostic tool to analyze epigenetic patterns, facilitating diagnosis of rare, unknown hereditary disorders. London Health Sciences Centre is the first site in the world to offer this type of testing.
2018: Research shows high-dose radiation can improve survival in patients with cancer that has spread to give or less sites. The SABR-COMET study was the first randomized phase II clinical trial of its kind.
2018: An international collaborative study between Lawson Health Research Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Royal Marsden and Epic Sciences is one of the first to demonstrate that a blood test can predict how patients with advanced prostate cancer will respond to specific treatments, leading to improved survival.
2017: In one of the largest microbiota studies conducted in humans, researchers at Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute and Tianyi Health Science Institute in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China have shown a potential link between healthy aging and a healthy gut.
2017: Dr. Alan Getgood and his team at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute are the first in Canada to participate in an investigative trial to determine the safety and efficacy of using a patient’s own cartilage cells to repair knee cartilage injuries.
2016: Researchers at Lawson are the first in Canada to use a Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) probe in Positron Emissions Tomography (PET) scans to provide improved and highly specific images used for better diagnosis and management of prostate cancer.
- 2015: Lawson scientists, in collaboration with Ceresensa Inc., produce novel PET-transparent MRI head coil, a world first in imaging technology
- 2015: Lawson announces partnership with STEMCELL Technologies for commercialization of tools for Parkinson’s disease research
2015: Novare Pharmaceuticals and Lawson announce issuance of a U.S. patent for the composition-of-matter and use of RHAMM-binding peptides with a wide range of potential therapeutic uses. The patent also has claims for the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer, and for prescribing a course of treatment for the diagnosed cancer.
- 2014: Lawson announces licensing agreement with Yabao Pharmaceutical Group in China to develop and test a new life-saving drug to treat sepsis
- 2014: Lawson researchers are part of a Canadian team who have developed a way to produce a key medical isotope, technetium-99m (Tc-99m), using hospital based cyclotrons
- 2013: The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Western opens at Lawson
- 2012: Lawson installs Canada's first PET/MRI at St. Joseph's Hospital
- 2011: Lindros Legacy Research Building officially opens at University Hospital
- 2010: Lawson opens the Cyclotron and PET Radiochemistry facility at St. Joseph's Hospital
- 2009: Lawson receives a record $7 million donation to support the Canadian Research & Development Centre for Probiotics
- 2008: Lawson establishes an experimental anti-thrombolitic clinic to calculate personalized dosage of drugs based on a patient's genetics
- 2007: The first totally endoscopic closed-chest robotic coronary artery bypass surgery on a patient's beating heart is performed at University Hospital
- 2006: Lawson opens the Aging, Rehabilitation & Geriatric Care Research Centre, the first centre of its kind in Canada, at Parkwood Institute
- 2005: Lawson creates the first Ontario Cardiac Rehabilitation Registry
- 2004: Lawson scientists release a three-year study on the effects of the Walkerton water disaster
- 2003: Lawson opens the Victoria Research Laboratories at Victoria Hospital, the first collaboration of its kind in Canada bringing together research from cancer, children's health and vascular biology
- 2002: Lawson installs the first Positron Emission Tomography and Computer Tomography (PET/CT) scanner in Canada at St. Joseph's Hospital
- 2001: St. Joseph's is one of five sites in the world piloting the Diabetes Electronic Management Systems