This is the second edition of our special series to mark The Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program’s 10th Anniversary!

Learn more about the people and projects that have left their mark on the network!

The Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program is celebrating its 10th Anniversary, and to mark this special occasion, we want to highlight the people and projects that have made a significant impact on the network.

Patient, family, and donor partners: nothing about us without us

Since its inception, the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP) has been fortunate to work with patient, family and donor (PFD) partners who have been involved every step of the way – from the initial stages of research to the dissemination of findings. Upholding the principle of patient engagement, the CDTRP has created a place for them in all stages of the research process, ensuring that their needs and perspectives are central to the work being done.

One important initiative core to this commitment is the creation of the Patient Researcher Partnership Platform in 2016. This platform brings patients and researchers together to develop research projects that respond to the needs of patients and families. The platform has continued to evolve over the years, to give a special place to all patient, family and donor partners in the research process.

By working closely with patients, families and donors, the CDTRP has been successful in ensuring that its research truly focuses on improving the lives of those affected by donation and transplantation. This has been a central priority for the Program and its partners since the beginning, and it remains a key focus for the future.

As we celebrate 10 years, it is important to recognize the vital contributions of those who have made this work possible. Through their dedication and collaboration, they have helped to advance our understanding of donation and transplantation and improve outcomes for patients and families across Canada.

Patient Voices: Sandra Holdsworth and Sylvain Bédard’s CDTRP Story

Meet Sandra Holdsworth and Sylvain Bédard, two long-time patient partners who have been with us since the very beginning. In these interviews, they share their experiences with the network and discuss the impact it has had on their patient journey. Sandra and Sylvain also reflect on their favorite memories from CDTRP’s Annual Scientific Meetings and share their hopes for the future of patient engagement in research. Join us in learning from these inspiring individuals and gaining a deeper understanding of the vital role that patient partners play in shaping healthcare research.

About Sandra Holdsworth

Sandra Holdsworth worked in banking for 30 years before, she received a liver transplant in 1997, following years of undiagnosed rare liver disease and Crohn’s disease. She now lives with a permanent ostomy, chronic kidney disease, and PTSD. Sandra is a Patient Partner co-lead with the Canadian Donation Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP), focusing on long term outcomes, including, exercise, nutrition, and mental health. She is also an advocate for organ and tissue donation, mentoring others on their healthcare journeys.

About Sylvain Bédard

Sylvain Bédard first heard of the word transplant in 1980 when he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart disease that had taken the life of his 18-year-old sister. Sylvain fought for 20 years before finally receiving the gift of life. Involved with the transplant community (CEPPP) and patient partner with the CDTRP, Sylvain shares his life with Charlie, his dog who has been providing him with motivation and comfort for many years.

Our trainees: the future of donation and transplantation research

Since the network’s inception, trainee support has been at the forefront of our mission, and we are proud to have nurtured the next generation of donation and transplantation researchers. In September 2013, we launched the CNTRP National Academic Training Program, which is now known as the Education and Career Development Platform. This platform continues to provide critical support to trainees across the country.

Since day one, trainee support has been an integral part of the core activities of the network. We recognize the importance of mentorship in developing the next generation of researchers, and we are pleased to offer mentor support and collaboration opportunities to our trainees. Additionally, we provide a special place at our Annual Scientific Meetings for trainees to showcase their work.

As we reflect on the past 10 years, we are excited about the future of donation and transplantation research. Our trainees and researchers are at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to pressing issues in this field, and we are committed to providing ongoing support for their work. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners and stakeholders to advance the mission of the CDTRP.

Navigating the Path to Research Success: Insights from CDTRP Alumni Dr. Anne Halpin and Dr. Vanessa Silva e Silva

We had the pleasure of speaking with Anne Halpin and Vanessa Silva e Silva, two former CDTRP trainees who are now pursuing successful research careers. They shared their experiences with the CDTRP Education and Career Development Platform and how it prepared them for their current roles. We also discussed the specific skills and knowledge they gained from the program that have been most helpful in their careers. Lastly, they offered valuable advice for current trainees who are interested in pursuing graduate studies and a research career.

About Dr. Anne Halpin

Anne Halpin is Clinical Fellow at the University of Alberta Hospital (Alberta Precision Laboratories). She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology at the University of Alberta. She completed a BSc in Medical Laboratory Science at the University of Alberta as well as received an MSc in Public Health from Trinity College, Dublin. She recently completed a PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Lori West, also at the University of Alberta, where her research focused on immune risk assessment in pediatric heart transplantation related to HLA, non-HLA, and ABO antibodies.

About Dr. Vanessa Silva e Silva

Vanessa Silva e Silva is a PhD-nurse, and a former Organ Donation Coordinator who has been devoted to research and active involvement in Organ Donation and Transplantation activities for over 10 years. Her research expertise is focused in quality improvement of organ donation programs and structures worldwide. She was a Kidney Research Scientist Core Education Program (KRESCENT) fellow and a Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP) trainee. She currently co-leads two groups within the CDTRP structure: Theme 1 “Improve the Culture of Donation” and the Allied Research in Donation and Transplantation (ARDOT) working group. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Brock University, and investigates burnout among donation coordinators, with the support and collaboration of Canadian Blood Services and key organ donation researchers nationally and internationally.

Advancing Donation and Transplantation Research: A Look into the Passionate CDTRP Community

We also need to take a moment to highlight some of the amazing projects that are being led by passionate members of the CDTRP community.

These projects are driven by the desire to advance research in the fields of donation and transplantation and are characterized by their collaborative and innovative nature. They involve people from a wide range of disciplines, including basic and clinical research, stem cells and organs, and donation and transplantation.

One of the key strengths of these projects is the sense of community that they foster. This spirit of collaboration is evident in the way that members work together, both in person and remotely, to achieve their goals. This collaborative work is enhanced by the regular meetings that are held to share ideas and progress, and to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction.

Overall, the projects that are part of the CDTRP exemplify the best of what can be achieved through interdisciplinary research and collaboration. They are making real progress towards improving the lives of those who find themselves involved in donation, those in need of transplants and those living with organ failure.

CDTRP’s Bright Minds: A Look into the Work of Dr. Mélanie Dieudé and Dr. Sonny Dhanani

We had the pleasure of meeting with two very well-known members of the community: Dr. Mélanie Dieudé and Dr. Sonny Dhanani, who have been involved with CDTRP since its inception as researchers, and later as a part of its leadership. In these two interviews, we discussed their projects, how the CDTRP has supported their work, and what unique aspects of the network they find most valuable. Watch the videos below to learn more about their experiences and insights.

About Dr. Mélanie Dieudé

Trained as an immunologist, Dr. Mélanie Dieudé is a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases in the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal, and a researcher in the Immunopathology Axis of the CHUM research center. The CRCHUM Dieudé laboratory team is working to reveal the interaction between zoonoses and immunosuppression, and to study autoimmune responses derived from vascular lesions, of importance in transplant rejection, graft-versus-host disease and systemic lupus erythematosus.  Dr. Dieudé played a leading role in the scientific development of the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP) and served as CDTRP Executive Director from 2020 to 2022. Since January 2022, Dr. Dieudé has joined Héma-Québec as Director of Research, Medical Affairs and Innovation. In this capacity, she leads a team of more than 40 prolific scientists and highly qualified research professionals working in various fields, including transfusion medicine, stem cells, breast milk and human tissues for transplantation.

About Dr. Sonny Dhanani

Dr. Sonny Dhanani is the chief of the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa and Professor (Pediatrics) at the University of Ottawa.

He is now the Chair of the Canadian Donation Physician Network, Chair of Canadian Blood Services’ national Deceased Donation Advisory Committee, and steering committee member of Health Canada’s Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative. Dr. Dhanani is Associate Director for donation research for the CDTRP.

His area of focus is leading international research pertaining to practices and standards for determining death after cardiac arrest for the purposes of donation.

Stay tuned for more stories related to the CDTRP 10th Anniversary in the coming months!