Two Lawson researchers each receive $400K CIHR grants to improve kidney care

Two researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute have each been awarded $400,000 as part of the Canadian Institute of Health Research’s (CIHR) new Health System Impact Embedded Early Career Researcher Awards. 

The funding will see the researchers apply their skills to find and implement solutions to improve kidney care by focusing on challenges in the health-care system.

Dr. Kyla Naylor and Dr. Danielle Nash will each spend four years working with provincial organizations. Dr. Naylor will work with the Trillium Gift of Life Network -Ontario Health, which is the organization responsible for coordinating provincial organ and tissue donation and transplant services. Dr. Nash will work with the Ontario Renal Network - Ontario Health, which is the organization responsible for managing delivery of advanced kidney services in the province.

Dr. Danielle Nash, left and Dr. Kyla Naylor.
Dr. Danielle Nash, left, and Dr. Kyla Naylor.

“The treatment options for kidney failure is either a kidney transplant or dialysis. The majority of Canadians who have kidney failure receive dialysis,” says Dr. Naylor, who is an Associate Scientist at Lawson and an Adjunct Scientist at ICES. “However, a kidney transplant compared to dialysis can improve a patients’ quality of life, can give on average 10 more years of survival, and when compared to dialysis, can save the health-care system millions of dollars.”

In her research program, Dr. Naylor will begin by developing a kidney transplant measurement framework that will enable continuous performance monitoring and increase equitable access to transplant. 

“The first goal of this project will allow kidney transplant centres and regional renal programs to evaluate their performance and set goals towards improvement,” Dr. Naylor says. “The second is to improve kidney transplant education materials to provide patients with the information to make an informed decision about kidney transplant, and the third is to address geographical barriers to transplantation.”

Dr. Naylor will be using ICES data, which includes administrative health-care data for Ontario’s 14.5 million residents, with the goal of eventually making access to kidney transplantation more equitable for the thousands of Canadians living with kidney failure.

The goal of Dr. Nash’s research program is to use a learning health system model to better understand patient-identified gaps in kidney care across Ontario, and to develop solutions to fill these gaps in collaboration with the Ontario Renal Network and patient partners. 

“Chronic kidney disease is a serious illness that can lead to kidney failure. The best way to prevent kidney failure is to detect chronic kidney disease early and provide optimal care during this time,” explains Dr. Nash, who is also an Epidemiologist and Scientist with London Health Science Centre’s (LHSC) Kidney Dialysis and Transplantation Program. “Since many patients do not have symptoms, it can go unnoticed for a long time. However, it can be detected using simple blood and urine tests.”

Province-wide data from ICES Ontario and the Ontario Renal Network will be used for the research data. 

As part of both studies, the researchers will also be interviewing health-care providers and patients to assess additional barriers to treatment.

“One in four patients do not see a nephrologist in a timely manner and 60 per cent are not receiving adequate time in multidisciplinary kidney care clinics before initiating dialysis,” says Dr. Nash. “Education on treatment options (typically dialysis or a kidney transplant) needs to happen early for patients who are at high risk for kidney failure, so they can make an informed decision about treatment.”

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