New Centre for Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at uOttawa
The University of Ottawa has approved the establishment of a research centre intended to help alleviate the suffering of patients with inflammatory diseases as well as pressure on Canada’s health-care system.
The University’s Centre for Infection, Immunity and Inflammation – uOCI3 for short – will be a hub of multi-disciplinary research aimed at meeting the increasing need for solutions to highly complex infectious and inflammatory conditions. Dr. Subash Sad, professor and basic scientist at the Faculty of Medicine, and a core group of colleagues have been working toward the establishment of a centre of this kind for several years.
“Canada may be known for its hockey, but we’re also well known for having the highest incidence of chronic inflammatory disease in the world,” says Dr. Sad. “As our population ages, this is leading to an increasing burden on the country’s health care.”
Chronic inflammatory diseases encompass many well-known conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Basic and clinical scientists from diverse disciplines at uOttawa and its partner institutes will collaborate on the common goal of developing solutions for these diseases. Slated to launch in late 2017, the uOCI3 will operate as a virtual research centre encompassing upwards of 55 researchers from across four faculties at the University, making it the largest collection of ‘I3’ researchers in Canada.
The “three I’s” are closely connected when it comes to inflammatory conditions, and it makes sense to study them in tandem, share knowledge, and interweave researchers’ findings across the various partners, says Dr. Sad.
“Infection triggers an immune response, which ultimately leads to inflammation,” he explains. “Inflammation can also be caused by a host of other triggers – it’s so complex that it can only be fully understood by applying the knowledge, tools and strengths of scientists with diverse expertise.”
Dr. Sad adds that while inflammation in the short term is beneficial, prolonged inflammation is harmful to the patient, summing it up as “short-term gain at the cost of long-term pain”.
A series of research themes have been identified to take into account the major health research needs in Canada. These research “clusters” include obesity and type II diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV infection, sepsis, cystic fibrosis and viral hepatitis, with each headed by notable experts in the respective discipline.
Scientists will interact from the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and the CHEO Research Institute. As inflammation impacts numerous diseases, uOCI3 will also work closely with other research centres in Ottawa such as the uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
“The multidisciplinary aspect will enable development of intervention strategies for patients,” says Dr. Sad. “Our mission is to ultimately improve the quality of life for those suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases.”