Diabetes Action Canada facilitates a meaningful connection between primary healthcare providers, their patients and relevant specialists. This network strongly believes engaging patients early on with scientists will modify the conduct of research that is for optimal impact on health. The Network will provide timely access to new, safe and effective interventions for optimal glycemic control, improved lifestyle, and targeted therapies for specific complications. 15 Principal Investigators (PIs) from across Canada and their Co-Investigators are involved in various research projects focusing on diabetes and its related complications. The Network’s goals uniquely position our investigators to promote their activities across disciplines and provincial boundaries through strategic collaboration.
Our SPOR Network PIs and partners will prioritize and implement research strategies by first mapping and constantly monitoring the most important concerns of patients with diabetes and their care providers. Many of our investigators have long-standing collaborations with each other. This Network serves to provide the infrastructure for ongoing exchanges between investigators who otherwise may not have the opportunity to interact. Top researchers at our nine collaborating institutions across Canada will interact with individuals living with diabetes and their caregivers, policymakers, health care professionals and other interested stakeholders (public/private). Our SPOR Network Goal & Theme Leads and PIs will create changes through visionary shared leadership with patients and healthcare providers. These changes will be achieved through collaboration and the sharing of resources among the members in our Network.
Jean-Pierre Després, C.Q., Ph.D., FAHA, FIAS
Co-Scientific Lead – Diabetes Action Canada
Professor – Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval
Director of Research in Cardiology – Québec Heart and Lung Institute Research Centre
Director of Science and Innovation, Alliance santé Québec
Scientific Director – International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk
Gary F. Lewis, MD, FRCPC
Co-Scientific Lead – Diabetes Action Canada,
Professor, Director – Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine and Department of Physiology, University of Toronto;
Director – Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, University of Toronto;
Sun Life Financial Chair in Diabetes
Drucker Family Chair in Diabetes Research
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The primary focus of the research program is to develop a better understanding of how behaviours develop and change over time, particularly with regard to participation in physical activity. Specific aspects of the research include identifying determinants of behavioural change and investigating the effects of behaviour change on health outcomes, including the management of diabetes. Other determinants of optimal diabetes care are also investigated from an epidemiological perspective using administrative databases. The aims are to identify more efficient and cost-effective clinical and public health practices.
Dr. Michael Brent leads the development of a national Diabetic Retinopathy screening program that will be accessible to all Canadians living with diabetes. A best practices approach for early diagnosis and management of Diabetic Retinopathy will reduce blindness and visual disability. Tele-ophthalmology will be an important program component , with emphasis on indigenous and inner city communities. Patient engagement in research protocols, and attention to sex and gender issues will be essential cornerstones of program development. Novel imaging equipment, and automated grading software will be integrated into the screening program. A national clinical trials network will be established to assess new treatments for diabetic retinopathy.
Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown is the Interim Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and the Dalla Lana Chair of Public Health Policy at the University. Past roles include senior leadership roles in policy and strategy within the Ontario Government, founding roles in start-up companies, and extensive work on performance measurement. He received his undergraduate degree in government from Harvard University and his doctorate from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Dr. Joseph Cafazzo is Lead for the eHealth Innovation, University Health Network.
He is an active researcher of the use of technology to facilitate patient self-care of complex chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, end-stage renal disease, and congestive heart failure. He has advised and conducted research for public sector policy makers and private sector medical technology companies on the design and safety of technology in healthcare.
He has contributed to the development and promotion of the artificial pancreas, critically developing device interoperability standards, analyzing user experience, and examining technical platforms.
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Dr. Carpentier’s research interests include: 1) the role of postprandial fatty acid metabolism in the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; 2) the investigation of brown adipose tissue metabolism in diabetes; and 3) the anti-diabetic mechanisms of bariatric surgery. He is also involved in translational research in collaboration with private partners using in vivo investigations techniques his laboratory develops to help advance diagnostic and treatment of diabetes and lipid disorders.
Over the last 30 years, Dr. Després and his team have studied obesity and adiposity and how they relate to health outcomes, with a strong focus on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Through series of cardiometabolic imaging studies, his group has shown that visceral/ectopic fat depots are key drivers of complications that had, in the past, been associated with excess body fat. The team has also documented how excess visceral adiposity/ectopic fat is associated with a constellation of atherogenic and diabetogenic abnormalities often referred to as the metabolic syndrome. The group is also active in the study of etiologic factors responsible for the selective accumulation of visceral/ectopic fat and is currently focussing on the contribution of nutritional and other lifestyle factors including physical activity/exercise. Finally, the team is heavily involved in the development of simple tools to assess and target lifestyle risk factors in clinical practice.
Dr. Farkouh is internationally known for his work in cardiovascular prevention and acute coronary syndromes. He has a special interest and expertise in the field of cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients. He is currently the project officer for numerous clinical trials on questions related to diabetes and heart disease including the NIH-sponsored FREEDOM trial. He chairs the committee on diabetes and heart disease at the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre at the University of Toronto and serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Our group investigates the link between diabetes and heart diseases with a particular emphasis on large, multinational outcomes trials in patients with coronary heart disease and heart failure.
There is no FDA-approved treatment for diabetic neuropathy, a condition that afflicts half of the 27 million North Americans who suffer from diabetes. The neurodegeneration seen in diabetes leads to sensory fiber depletion and loss of protective sensation – a primary trigger of the diabetic foot and lower limb amputation. With financial support from several key stakeholders in the field of diabetes, a small start-up company, WinSanTor Inc, was established in 2012 and is developing a proprietary first-in-class therapy to prevent and reverse nerve damage. The SPOR network will perform phase 2 clinical trials with novel topical therapeutics provided by WinSanTor.
Dr Greiver’s work centers on using Canada’s increasingly large amounts of electronic health data to improve the health and lives of Canadians; diabetes is now a critical health issue for more Canadians than ever. She oversees the Electronic Medical Record data system as well as clinical research activities for UTOPIAN, the University of Toronto Practice Based Research Network (PBRN), which includes over 1,400 family physicians and is the largest PBRN in Canada. UTOPIAN partners front line providers and academic researchers, providing insights into what is working and what could work better in primary care. She is working with the Leadership of Diabetes Action Canada on the launch of a National Diabetes Repository; the Repository will combine multiple sources of data, including information added by patients living with diabetes on their health and wellbeing. It is intended to offer patients new ways to access and use their data and enhanced options to engage and participate in care and research positioned to be meaningful and relevant to them.
The research program is to contribute to sustaining health and well-being in society by supporting high-quality diabetes care. It will focus on scaling up shared decision making by applying it to decision contexts and on building shared decision making capacity among health professionals. More specifically, it will provide diabetes patients and their health professionals with the necessary skills to promote shared decision-making throughout the healthcare continuum. This research is expected to harmonize patients’ expectations with respect to professional practices within the Canadian healthcare system using the best knowledge and evidence available to improve patients’ outcomes while ensuring their safety.
The Lewis lab has had a long interest in the mechanisms of various aspects of diabetic dyslipidemia, including postprandial lipemia, HDL lowering and hypertriglyceridemia. We have also had a long standing interest in the mechanisms of type 2 diabetes. Previously we have performed both animal and human mechanistic studies but currently are focusing exclusively on the human. In 2002, working in close collaboration with Dr. Khosrow Adeli (U of T), we made the novel observation that the intestine, in addition to the liver, overproduces lipoproteins in insulin resistant states. In our current funded work we are determining the mechanism of intestinal and hepatic lipoprotein overproduction in insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. We perform integrative, physiological studies in humans, attempting to determine the regulation of intestinal and hepatic lipoprotein particle production by hormones, nutrients and pharmacological agents. We have also received funding to study CNS regulation of systemic metabolism.
Our goal is to develop a National Diabetic Retinopathy(DR) assessment program, registry, and clinical trials unit that will be accessible to all Canadians with diabetes. This program will define and implement a best practices approach for the early diagnosis and management of DR, preventing blindness and visual disability. Novel components of this program include a scalable National DR Registry, a patient-oriented research program, and an App to assist patients with managing their eye care.
Dr. McGavock established his lab at the Children’s Hospital Institute of Manitoba in 2006 to study the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes in youth. He is a CIHR Applied Health Chair (2014-2019) and the lead for the DREAM and DEVOTION research teams that have secured over $22M in external funding to reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes in youth in Canada. He currently is the PI for a CIHR Pathways team grant that assembled Canada’s largest network of scientists and Indigenous communities focused on the prevention of type 2 diabetes among Indigenous youth.
Centered on type 1 diabetes and using longitudinal cohort methods as well as clinical trials, his research work has focused on 1) Early biomarkers of diabetes complications and biomarkers of progression to advanced disease, and 2) Interventions for prevention of complications, including artificial pancreas technologies and disease-modifying adjunctive-to-insulin pharmacotherapies. Principal findings include “early progressive renal decline” which permitted identification of novel factors now subject to a large-scale nephropathy clinical trial, and the development of In-vivo Corneal Confocal Microscopy as an early small fibre biomarker for neuropathy for which he leads an NIH-funded international consortium. He leads a phase 3 trial of Sodium Glucose-Linked Transporter-2 inhibition in type 1 diabetes, and his first project in the Diabetes Action Canada portfolio combines such adjunctive therapy with artificial pancreas technology as a strategy to maximally impact glycemic control in type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Paula Rochon leads the Women’s Xchange, a women’s health research knowledge translation and exchange centre, based at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Her team has worked with Diabetes Action Canada since its earliest inception, providing insights on the integration of sex and gender in the different research studies of the network, reviewing proposal materials and editing application documents to incorporate a sex and gender lens. Dr. Rochon and her expert sex and gender researchers at Women’s Xchange will continue to support Diabetes Action Canada to ensure that sex and gender are considered at all stages of the research.
An Academic Family Physician for 33 years, he is currently the Gordon F. Cheesbrough Research Chair at North York General Hospital and the director of the University of Toronto’s Practice Based Research Network (UTOPIAN). In the decade before moving to Canada he was the NHS Tayside professor of R&D in General Practice and Primary Care and was involved with the development of a regional then national diabetes register in Scotland.
He has published 224 papers in peer reviewed journals and his NEJM paper describing a trial of steroids and antivirals for Bell’s palsy won the British Medical Association research paper of the year award. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011.