London ranks in the top 10 for hospital-based research

Lawson Health Research Institute is ranked eighth in the country according to the 2019 edition of “Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals List” by Re$earch Infosource. This strong national position has been maintained by Lawson for the past six years and also keeps the institute within the top five in Ontario.  

The results 

The research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s), Lawson has also maintained the top ranking for research intensity among the large tier institutions with $612,800 of research spending per researcher. 

“As a hospital-based research institute, our innovation happens where care is delivered,” says Dr. David Hill, Lawson Scientific Director. “Every day, teams of researchers are working directly with clinicians and patients to improve treatments or create entirely new ones. They also find innovative methods of delivering services that drive efficiency and reduce costs.” 

Dr. David Hill

Dr. David Hill, Lawson Scientific Director. 

The top 40 list analyzes hospital-based research institutes from across the country on several metrics, including total research income from the previous fiscal year. The ranking looks at funds received from all sources, including both internal and external, to support research at the organization. According to the report, Lawson received $123,790 million in research income in 2018, which represents 0.4 per cent in growth from the previous fiscal year.

“We are known across the country and around the world for our high level of research activity and success, despite our size. London punches well above our weight when it comes to health research,” adds Dr. Hill.

“Our position as a leading research institute is the foundation for brilliant research and worldwide partnerships tackling the most pressing challenges in health care.” 

What does this mean for London, Ontario? 

There are millions of dollars every year coming in London from elsewhere in Canada and in the world. Approximately 60 per cent of that is spent on jobs. Lawson employs over 2,000 people in hospital-based research. This is a major source of quality employment for Londoners and people in the surrounding region. Dr. Hill notes that this is one of the real benefits of having a strong biomedical industry associated with the city. 

“Another real benefit of having research directly in the hospitals is that our researchers focus on gaining knowledge that advances our ability to treat patients and find solutions to wicked problems that have been around for a long time.” 

For example, Lawson researchers have been tackling the issue of homelessness from within hospital walls. The No Fixed Address (NFA) strategy reaches and supports patients during the crucial transitional period when they are being discharged from the hospital and re-integrated into the community. Learn more about this successful research initiative

Dr. Cheryl Forchuk

Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, Lawson Scientist leading the NFA strategy in London hospitals. 

How are we adapting to the current funding environment? 

While federal funding for research in Canada is slowly starting to increase, this sector experienced over a decade of decreasing funding that placed the country far behind other nations in terms of investing in health research. 

“We have become better at what we do in competing for grants and other funding sources, in particular from the government,” explains Dr. Hill. 

Also, “Lawson has been diversifying our sources of funding. We’ve have engaged in more partnerships with industry and joint research and development projects with companies. Not only does that have the advantage of providing additional resources, but also is often a more practical way of directly delivering our knowledge into salable products”

Strong partnerships 

This year, Re$earch Infosource is showcasing “Building Bridges: Pathways to Building Research Capacity and Discovery through Collaboration.” Health researchers in London have collaborations across many sectors that result in big impacts for the people in this region and beyond. 

As just one example, a group of scientists from Lawson, Brescia University College and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University provide academic support to London’s Fermented Foods Project that brings together industry partners, the agricultural sector, academic and health institutions, the City of London and the London Economic Development Corporation. 

The goals of this group, funded by the Weston Family Microbiome Initiative, are to support new product development and batch production, enhance customer confidence, quantify health benefits and establish a competitive advantage. 

Dr. Gregor Reid in the lab

Dr. Gregor Reid, left, is one of the researchers for London's Fermented Foods Project.