2020 is a year of opportunity for our network. Many of you will remember our roots, as we together founded the Canadian National Transplantation Research Program in 2013. The goal was to bring together our country’s diverse donation and transplantation research communities, an ongoing effort that we are just as passionate about today. Over the last 6 years, our network has grown to include more than 300 scientists, students, collaborators, patient/family/donor partners and knowledge users at 33 sites across Canada, working together on our shared goals through research, innovation, and knowledge translation projects.
In 2018, we refreshed the vision of our network and articulated the next steps towards our mission of achieving One-Transplant-for-Life: that Canada fulfills every donation opportunity and realizes the potential of transplantation as a true, cost-effective and final cure for many chronic diseases and refractory blood cancers. We also renamed the network the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program, recognizing the importance and equal weight of the donation communities with the transplant communities, together with patients, families and donors. With a redesigned structure, we are now offering enhanced research support and infrastructure to the community, to help accelerate research and innovation projects, leverage the vast interdisciplinary expertise of the network, grow funding opportunities and success rates for our members, and position our trainees and early career researchers for successful careers in the field. We encourage all of you to explore the many resources available and reach out to network staff for more information.
With our members’ and partners’ collective and coordinated efforts, we are moving the field forward in an array of new and exciting ways. Here are just a few highlights of work going on across the network:
- Theme 1 (Create a culture of donation) will be hosting a conference call on March 18, 2020 to review the new amendment to the Medical Assistance in Dying bill. The review will be led by Jennifer Chandler, with contributions from Matthew Weiss and perspectives from Laurie Blackstock, Theme 1 patient, family, donor lead. For more information and to join the call, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Members of Theme 2 (Inform universal practices for donation) recently met with Dr. Caroline Tait and others to better understand the Métis, Inuit and First Nations perspective on the differences of neurological and circulatory death and how that can better inform practices for donation nationwide.
- Members of Theme 3 (Engineer and allocate better grafts) were recently awarded CIHR funding to study a novel cell death pathway and its role in long-term graft survival. Inhibiting this pathway could be a strategy to prevent cell death, organ injury and thus transplant rejection, as well as increasing the possibility for donation after circulatory determined death.
- Members of Theme 4 (Tailor an optimized immune system for each patient) are trialling photopheresis-based cell therapy for the treatment of chronic graft vs host disease in a national multi-center clinical trial (CARE). Patient recruitment and sample collection are now complete, and the analysis phases, involving collaborations across the network, are underway.
- Members of Theme 5 (Restore long-term health) are working with patients and families to implement tools to capture patient-reported outcomes in solid-organ transplant recipients. The overarching objective is to improve health outcomes by implementing ePROMs into standard clinical practice.
CIHR has been an outstanding supporter of our vision for donation and transplantation research in Canada since our inception. Now in 2020, it is time for our maturing network to work toward become self-sustaining, and find new ways to continue developing the resources and supports that can help bring our communities together and increase the quality of our research and training. We are looking forward to further strengthening the relationships among members and with our partners to achieve this goal. Over the course of the year, we will be evaluating the CDTRP’s progress, assessing what activities and supports are offering the most value to the community, and considering what may need recalibration. You may be contacted in the coming months for your thoughts, and we look forward to engaging with you in these ongoing conversations. As always, we are grateful for all of our members’ and partners’ perspectives and contributions as we work toward our shared goal of enhancing collaboration, supporting high quality training, advancing the quality of donation and transplantation research, and transforming research into an improved quality of life for Canadians.
Lori West, Scientific Director
Marie-Josée Hébert, Scientific Co-Director
Sonny Dhanani, Associate Director
Jean-Sébastien Delisle, Associate Director