York forges new partnership with Southlake Regional Health Centre

York scientists will soon have new research opportunities in biomedical and health research, thanks to a partnership between Southlake Regional Health Centre and the University.

The two organizations have created a research partnership “incubator” that will assist and support York and Southlake scientists to collaborate on biomedical and health research. Activities will include identifying research partners and funding opportunities, as well as facilitating ethics approval.

Building on York’s proactive research outreach strategy into York Region, Professor Michael Siu (right), associate vice-president research, science & technology, spearheaded the effort in developing the partnership with Southlake. “Given York’s excellence in biomedical and health research, we were excited to establish a relationship with a teaching and research-focused hospital such as Southlake,” says Siu. “This partnership recognizes the University’s contribution to research within York Region, and it will enable our scientists to translate their research into solutions for the well-being of all Canadians.”

As research liaison specialist − a position jointly funded by Southlake and York − Dr. Dave Tulbert will work concurrently with York University researchers and Southlake clinicians to establish new collaborative research projects in all of the clinical sciences, as well as related areas such as health care management and sociology. “Our objective is to introduce, facilitate and coordinate collaborations to create win-win situations between York faculty and Southlake clinicians,” says Tulbert.

Southlake Regional Health Centre, in Newmarket, is the only community-based hospital in Ontario to offer six regional tertiary programs, including cardiac and cancer care. Patrick Clifford, Southlake’s manager of professional practice and research ethics, worked with Siu to establish this research liaison office. It is a full-service hospital with a regional, clinically advanced focus. “Some of the most respected and talented clinicians in Canada work at Southlake,” says Clifford. “We are delighted to partner with York in bringing proven academic researchers together with our 400 physicians and 1,500 clinical staff; a combination that should make for some exciting partnerships and important research.”

A number of collaborative opportunities have already been identified. Three that have moved beyond the conceptual stage are a cardiac biomarker project involving York Professor Imogen Coe of the Department of Biology and Southlake cardiac surgeon Dr. Charles Peniston; a project on using advanced computer algorithms for better radiation therapy led on the York side by Professor Amir Asif, chair of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering; and a project on eating disorders with York Professor Jennifer Mills of the Department of Psychology and Drs. Adele Lafrance and Ahmed Boachie from Southlake’s nationally recognized child & adolescent Eating Disorders Program.

As a regionally designated site, Southlake is responsible for developing and providing advanced levels of care to the over one million people who reside in York Region, Simcoe County and, in some cases, as far north as Muskoka.