Why do we fund Research Chairs?
Our Chairs are senior researchers, linked with an academic institution, who strive for excellence in arthritis research. In the process, they create and foster world class centres of research, while helping to train the next generation of highly skilled specialists. Funding for these Research Chairs assist the university in recruiting excellent faculty members, support outstanding students, and conduct essential research.
How do Research Chairs help people with arthritis?
Research Chairs bring a higher profile to arthritis research across the country, drawing an increasing number of professionals to the subject - and improving not only arthritis research, but ultimately care and treatment for people living with arthritis.
An endowed Arthritis Society Chair in Rheumatic Diseases/Rheumatology at the University of Calgary was established in 1999 and is currently filled by Dr. Marvin Fritzler.
In his role as Chair, Dr. Fritzler has focused on cutting edge research, including continuing studies of GW proteins and GW bodies and extend these findings to an understanding of their role in miRNA and RNAi pathways, and participating in and leading a number of team research grants. In addition, he is working to develop state of the art diagnostic platforms – including instituting testing for cytokines in osteoarthritis, scleroderma and patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Fritzler pursues the ongoing goal of transitioning arthritis research focus from discovery to development of applications. He continues to establish, support and strengthen academic rheumatology and its ties to basic research, clinical research and clinical practice in rheumatology, and to foster the academic development of new arthritis researchers by supporting trainees and research associates at the University of Calgary.
A number of endowed Chairs have been established in BC, which has leveraged significant funding from the University of British Columbia and others. Currently there are two Arthritis Society Research Chairs at the University of British Columbia:
Dr. Harold S. Robinson – The Arthritis Society Chair in Arthritic Diseases – within The School of Rehabilitation Medicine (established in July, 1991)
Currently filled by Dr. Linda Li
Dr. Linda Li is an Assistant Professor at the School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of British Columbia. In 2006, she was the first rehabilitation professional appointed as Harold Robinson / The Arthritis Society Chair in Arthritic Diseases.
She completed her Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy at McGill University and Master's of Science at the University of Western Ontario. She earned a Doctorate in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto in 2004. Two years later, she completed a CIHR-funded Post-doctoral Fellowship in knowledge translation at the Ottawa Health Research Institute.
Dr. Li's research and academic activities focus in two areas: models of care in the management of arthritis, and the development and evaluation of knowledge translation strategies. Her research centres on assessing health service delivery models, and understanding and facilitating the use of evidence by health professionals and patients. Areas of methodological expertise include clinical epidemiology, knowledge translation, clinical trials, and survey design.
As the lead investigator of a randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness of Primary Therapist Model, Dr. Li examined the value of extended roles of physiotherapists and occupational therapists in the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The results showed that patients with RA can achieve better clinical outcomes after treatment from a rheumatology-trained primary therapist as compared to a physical therapy and/or occupational therapy generalist. Her research has challenged the thinking around traditional roles of rehabilitation therapists and the discipline-specific model in arthritis care.
Mary Pack – The Arthritis Society Chair in Rheumatology (established in October, 1991)
Currently filled by Dr. Diane Lacaille
Diane Lacaille is an assistant professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of British Columbia, and a research scientist at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, in Vancouver. She practices rheumatology at the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre and she has a hospital appointment at Vancouver Hospital Health Sciences Centre (VHHSC). She completed medical school and internal medicine training at McGill University in Montreal, and her Rheumatology training and a Master's in Health Sciences, clinical epidemiology track, at the University of British Columbia.
Her research focuses on two areas: 1) Studying the impact of arthritis on employment and preventing work disability. 2) Evaluating the quality of health care services received by people with RA, using a population-based cohort of RA for the province of BC.
Currently she is funded by an Investigator Award from the Arthritis Society of Canada. Previously she was funded by a New Investigator Award from Canadian Institutes of Health Research and The Arthritis Society of Canada, as well as from a Research Scholar Award from VHHSC.
She holds peer-reviewed operating grant funding for her research from the CIHR, CAN, She also holds a NET grant with a team of researchers (PI: Dr Esdaile) evaluating early OA. She has published her research in Arthritis and Rheumatism, Journal of Rheumatology, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Human Immunology, Health Policy, Lancet, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.
She is a member of the Canadian Arthritis Network, Co-Leader of Theme 5, member of the Training and Education Committee. She is a member of the OMERACT Special Interest Group working on measures for evaluating employment. She is also a member on the Young Investigator Subcommittee of the American College of Rheumatology Committee on Research, the Editorial Board of the Arthritis Care and Research Journal and of the Journal of the Canadian Rheumatology Association.
She has received distinction awards for her contribution to rheumatology research, including the Young Investigator Award from the Canadian Rheumatology Association and the Quality of Life Research Award from the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA)—a distinction award for having obtained the highest score of all applications in Arthritis, Pain and Disability. Finally, she was a recipient of the Martin M. Hoffman Award for Excellence in Research at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Lacaille was recently appointed the Mary Pack – The Arthritis Society Chair in Rheumatology.
Building on her research on employment and arthritis, she has developed the first comprehensive program specifically designed to prevent Work Disability (WD) in employed people with inflammatory arthritis, such as RA. The program enhances self-management of problems encountered at work due to arthritis and modifies risk factors for WD. The program was pilot tested and showed promising results. It resulted in concrete changes and improved self-confidence and self-rated productivity at work. Next, she plans to test the program's effectiveness at reducing WD in a randomized controlled trial. By preventing WD, this research will reduce the tremendous economic and social burden of RA.
As part of her research evaluating the quality of care for RA at the population level, she has assembled a population-based cohort of RA patients in BC. This research has exposed important gaps in care for RA. She found that the majority of RA patients do not receive the care that is recommended for their disease. More than half are not using the medications considered essential for RA (DMARDs) and few are followed by rheumatologists. These results point to the need for educating family physicians and people with RA about the shift in treatment paradigms in RA, and to the need for increased rheumatologist access and manpower. This research is important to people with RA and their health care providers and has potential to improve the quality of care and outcome of RA. She is now working on understanding the underlying reasons for the gaps identified and on developing strategies to address these gaps.
Dr. Ross Petty—The Arthritis Society Research Chair in Pediatric Rheumatology
Fundraising is ongoing for this Chair—currently not filled.
In 2011-12, The Society contributed $1 million towards the establishment of this Chair at the University of British Columbia.
This endowed Chair in Rheumatology at the University of Manitoba established in 2003 is currently filled by Dr. Hani El-Gabalawy.
Dr. El-Gabalawy is a Canadian clinician-scientist-educator in the field of Rheumatology and is Professor and Head, Division of Rheumatology, University of Manitoba. He also holds the position of Director of the Arthritis Centre at that institution. He has established a research program focused on dissecting the cellular and molecular basis of rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. El-Gabalawy's research interest is the pathogenesis of early synovitis, and the mechanisms sustaining synovial inflammation and proliferation. His program combines clinical observation with synovial tissue biopsy and analysis. His lab has expertise in the analysis of synovial tissue samples and cells using gene expression and proteomic profiling, and immunohisotologic techniques.
Dr. El-Gabalawy has served as Chair for both the Canadian Council of Academic Rheumatologists, and the Examinations Board in Rheumatology for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Dr. El-Gabalawy continues his work on rheumatoid arthritis in First Nations, and had CIHR grant renewed in 2008 for a further 5 years (~$1 million in total) and continues to train young clinicians and investigators, and leads a vibrant and productive Arthritis Centre at the University of Manitoba
The Arthritis Society provides leadership and funding for research, advocacy and solutions to improve the quality of life for Canadians affected by arthritis.
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