Jul 4, 2023

LMP seed funding powers new collaborations

Agile education, Impactful research, Disruptive Innovation, Dynamic Collaboration, Inclusive community
People sitting at a table talking
George Yousef, Carlo Hojilla and Larissa Liontos discuss their ideas at the LMP Faculty Development Day
By Jenni Bozec

Earlier this year, the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine held its first Faculty Development Day.

The afternoon was dedicated to building new collaborations, with faculty joining discussion tables in two rounds: the topics for which were based on suggestions from participants. This Collaboration Café, created in partnership with Krystyna Kongats from the Centre for Research Innovation & Support (CRIS), ended with a call to submit proposals for seed funding for their ideas.

If new collaborations were generated by participants at the event, they could apply to a catalyst grant competition for a share of the $75k made available by the department. Decided by the LMP Vice Chairs Council, the below projects will receive funding and we will update you on their progress at the end of the next academic year!

“What is evident in all the proposals we received was that given the opportunity, when LMP faculty are provided with the time and space, new ideas and collaborations form very naturally. The quality of ideas made funding decisions extremely difficult,” commented Vice Chair Research (Clinical), Myron Cybulsky. “We were extremely impressed by the variety of proposals,” added Janice Robertson, Vice Chair Research (Life Sciences). ”Not only were there innovative and cross-disciplinary collaborations in research, but there were many centered around EDI and teaching, which was fantastic to see.”

Rita Kandel, Department Chair added, “The quality and volume of proposals received speaks volumes about both the untapped potential here in LMP, but also how valuable this event and opportunity was for our faculty. The proposals reflected our strategic priorities, and I am very excited to see how this seed funding can help some of these collaborations get started.”

All the funded collaborations include a variety of faculty members from varied sites and specialisms across discovery science and clinical practice. The LMP Vice Chairs encourage applicants who were not successful to work with the appropriate LMP strategic plan pillar leads to refine their proposals to improve chances for funding next year.

The funded projects are:

Creating an e-learning module for pathology

Collaborators: Carmen Avila-Casado (Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network), Rumina Musani (Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network), Sara Hafezi-Bakhtiari (Lakeridge Health Network), Larissa Liontos (Sunnybrook Health Science Centre), Carlo Hojilla (Mount Sinai Hospital, Sinai Health), Anita Nagy (Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids))

To develop a virtual education (e-learning) model in Anatomical Pathology to support a structured and curriculum-based approach training in different anatomical pathology specialties with remote access to innovative educational material, self-learning experts and educators. This is a result of combining two projects which both wanted to pursue digital education in various fields of pathology.

See a related story: Going global with Hematopathology: how an online teaching platform could revolutionize the field

Wellness Café Lunch & Learn for faculty

Collaborators: Golnaz Karoubi (Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network), Maria Pasic (St. Joseph's Hospital, Unity Health Toronto), Adele Changoor (Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System)

To create a forum where to help LMP faculty to translate Wellness, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (WIDE) concepts into actionable ideas that can be implemented in their daily work practice.

LabMed workshop

Collaborators: Larissa Liontos (Sunnybrook Health Science Centre), Carlo Hojilla (Mount Sinai Hospital, Sinai Health), Susan Poutanen (University Health Network/Sinai Health Department of Microbiology), George Yousef (Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network)

To create a 2-day workshop outside of the regular curriculum that would be fun, interactive and allow undergraduate medical students to learn about rewarding career options in Laboratory Medicine. LabMed specialties are poorly represented in the undergraduate medicine education (UME) curriculum and this lack of exposure limits medical students from determining whether they would be interested in pursuing these career pathways. 

Using novel disruptive technology in Parkinson’s disease

Collaborators: Naomi Visanji (Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network) and Trevor McKee (Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network)

To use a novel disruptive technology, Imaging Mass Cytometry (IMC™), to study immune system dysfunction and neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s disease. Research pathologists are increasingly faced with a challenge in being able to explore the vast numbers of targets emerging from the analysis of bulk tissue samples using ‘omics approaches. Simply put, ‘omics screens frequently generate too many markers and pathways of interest to visualize using classical immunohistochemistry in the finite amounts of precious tissue sections available from human diseases. IMC™ addresses this challenge by providing the opportunity to simultaneously assess 40 -plus markers of interest in a single section. Additionally, IMC™ has advantages over other forms of multiplex immunostaining including the absence of autofluorescence, which can be particularly significant in brain tissue.

Molecular diagnostic approach to extranodal marginal zone lymphoma of mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) of gastrointestinal (GI) tract

Collaborators: Sasan Zandi (St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto), Shawn Winer (St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto), Bo-yee Ngan (Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)), Daniel Winer (Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network)

The diagnosis of low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma in a small GI biopsy specimen can be very challenging. This project aims to establish single nuclear gene expression and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) signatures of GI MALT lymphoma in stomach and colon with translation into potential new diagnostic markers for GI MALT lymphoma. It also aims to investigate the specificity of VDJ rearrangement in MALT lymphoma of stomach and colon.

This initiative showcases all pillars of the LMP Strategic Plan 2023 - 2028.