Dr. Rebecca McClure, Health Sciences North
(NC) The pace of medical research is picking up, and one place that’s attracting top talent is Sudbury.
Dr. Rebecca McClure is one of the new faces of health research in Sudbury. McClure was a top researcher in molecular pathology at the Mayo Clinic, but she was recruited to Sudbury to work at Health Sciences North, one of 24 hospitals that comprise the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario.
“The scenery around Sudbury is some of best in the world and I get to do the work I like in a place I like to live,” says McClure. “I’m able to work on cutting edge health research without having to be in a large urban centre.”
For the past eight months, she’s been working at the Advanced Medical Institute of Canada (AMRIC), the research wing of Health Sciences North. AMRIC was the recent recipient of a $5-million grant for its research activities, and it’s this kind of investment that continues to build research capacity.
“I think it’s fabulous. They’re doing a great job here in Sudbury communicating the value of our work and the need for investment in both good researchers and labs.”
McClure has been working on the development of new genetic markers for cancer and other disease testing. A recent explosion of new technologies means that researchers are now aiming to design tests for hundreds of genetic markers, at low cost and high speed. This work will help Health Sciences North to develop a broader menu of tests for a variety of diseases with a high local incidence, such as lung cancer, leukemias and lymphomas. This will ensure that patients and their tissue samples won’t need to be sent elsewhere for testing.
“We think that people here should have the same care as everywhere else. Patients here can have big delays in getting testing, they may have to go elsewhere, and in some cases, they don’t get the testing at all. This can lead to delayed treatment, higher costs and possible miscommunications,” she adds. “The facilities in Sudbury and Thunder Bay aren’t large in a global sense, but they’re not small in terms of the impact they have.”
She stresses that medical care is complex and it’s critical to have integrated, end-to-end local care to provide high quality care for patients. McClure says that if any part of the process gets disconnected from the others, quality of care for patients suffers. It’s a concept that she believes Sudbury understands. “People here in Sudbury are committed to figuring out how to change and adapt to the new processes that help us take advantage of the latest medical technologies. It’s always exciting to be part of something new.”
Ontario’s 24 research hospitals create a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario by improving the quality care for patients, supporting thousands of good jobs, teaching the next generation and attracting the brightest and best researchers and health professionals.
They have helped strengthen the economy in many ways:
• $1.2 billion was invested in research in 2012 and for every $1 invested in health research, there’s a $3 return to the economy.
• This investment supports 36,000 total jobs across Ontario.
• Investment is attracted to the province. 16 per cent of investment comes from the private sector (2.5 times more than the relevant OECD average).
• In the last two years, investment in health research resulted in 139 health tech commercializations.
• The CAHO ARTIC Program has facilitated the implementation of six research evidence projects across 82 hospital units in Ontario, involving more than 166 “change champions” across all disciplines.
• ARTIC projects aim to accelerate the implementation of research evidence to change care practices, reducing the adoption time from 17 years to 2 years.