About Sickkids
About SickKids
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1976-2000

2000

  • A team of researchers at SickKids has discovered that distinct types of stem cells exist within the blood system that differ in the length of time that they can sustain a stem cell transplant.
  • SickKids has developed a national registry that will track Multiple Sclerosis in children, allowing researchers to better understand the progression of paediatric MS.
  • An international team of researchers, including scientists from SickKids and the University of Toronto, have identified the gene responsible for distal renal tubular acidosis, a form of kidney disease, and the corresponding diagnostic test.
  • A team of researchers led by SickKids and the University of Toronto has shown that what scientists thought caused neurons to die in inherited neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s is in fact not the case.
  • Research conducted at SickKids has opened up the possibility for a new treatment for pulmonary hypertension that may also be applicable to all types of blood vessel obstruction.
  • Researchers at SickKids and University of Toronto have identified retinal stem cells in the adult mammalian eye, opening the door for retinal regeneration as a possible cure for damaged or diseased eyes.
  • SickKids created the new Children's Council, a unique forum that gives patients a chance to advocate for themselves and become more involved in planning and developing hospital programs.
  • SickKids installed the first clinical MagnetoEncephalography (MEG) site in Canada and the first in the world to be installed at a paediatric institution. MEG measures and localizes sources of magnetic activity produced by the human brain and helps in the diagnosis and treatment planning for a number of neurological disorders.

1999

  • Researchers at McMaster University, SickKids and University of Toronto have unravelled the mystery of what causes the vision of human babies to improve so rapidly after birth. Vision scientists were previously unclear as to whether the five-fold visual improvement that babies experience within the first six months of life was built into the developing brain or depended on the babies actually using their eyes.
  • SickKids to host Genome Database on "Deep Maple" IBM. SickKids has taken over the GDB management from Johns Hopkins University. The database will reside on “Deep Maple”, the nickname given by SickKids information scientists to its new IBM RS/6000 SP system.
  • Researchers at SickKids (SickKids) and the University of Toronto (U of T) used a toxin produced by the same bacteria that cause hamburger disease to completely eliminate malignant human brain tumours grown in mice.
  • Researchers at the University of Toronto and SickKids found an association between magnetic field exposures in residences and the risk of developing childhood leukemia.
  • Scientists at SickKids (SickKids), University of Toronto (U of T), and colleagues in Japan identified a gene which causes a metabolic disorder affecting the liver.
  • A team of Toronto researchers developed a simple test that promises to significantly reduce mortality rates for a deadly form of cancer.
  • Researchers at SickKids concluded that occupational exposure during pregnancy to organic solvents increases the chances of major birth defects.
  • Researchers at SickKids (SickKids) successfully used biological engineering to prevent the closing of a key passage between the two large blood vessels leading out of the heart to the body and lungs.
  • SickKids acquired two state-of-the-art super computers and responsibility for managing the worldwide Genome Database (GDB), the foremost public database for human genome information. SickKids now has more computing power than any other hospital in the world, placing it on the leading edge of the emerging field of bioinformatics and ultimately allowing scientists to dramatically accelerate research into diseases that affect children. The acquisition was made possible by an anonymous donor and an investment of approximately $1.4 million by Silicon Graphics Canada.
  • Canada's first basic science brain tumour research centre was opened at SickKids this year with a $5-million donation from Arthur and Sonia Labatt. The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre brings together clinicians and scientists from SickKids, Toronto Western Hospital, and the University of Toronto to form a leading-edge collaborative laboratory focused on basic science research of human brain tumours, both in adults and children.
  • Researchers in SickKids Motherisk program showed that occupational exposure during pregnancy to organic solvents increases the chances of major birth defects. While solvents had previously been shown to cause birth defects in laboratory animals, it is the first proof that humans can be affected as well.

1998

  • Researchers at SickKids (SickKids), the Toronto Hospital and the University of Toronto (U of T) have carried out studies which could lead to a new way to treat viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart leading to heart failure and, ultimately, the need for a transplant.
  • Researchers at SickKids (SickKids) have improved access to an important resource for genetics researchers around the world: a genome database that provides the latest data from human gene mapping activities.
  • An international research team led by Dr. Steve Scherer, of SickKids (SickKids) and the University of Toronto (U of T) identified a gene responsible for one of the most severe forms of epilepsy, known as Lafora disease (LD).
  • Discovery of new stem cell leads to better understanding of blood system, and raises questions about current methos used for human stem cell transplants.
  • SickKids (SickKids) has created a research facility that will help ensure Canada maintains its prominent international role in genetic research.
  • Researchers at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and several hospitals in Brazil determined that a drug commonly used for the treatment and prevention of ulcers causes a significant birth defect if taken during pregnancy.
  • A research team led by Dr. Gabrielle Boulianne of SickKids (SickKids) and the University of Toronto ( U of T) and Drs. John Phillips and Arthur Hilliker of the University of Guelph identified a critical weakness in the defence against aging
  • Scientists at SickKids (SickKids) and the University of Toronto (U of T) provided the first structural evidence that the defective cystic fibrosis (CF) gene leads to a malformation of the protein that carries out the gene's biochemical orders.
  • SickKids established North America's first Paediatric Academic Multi-organ Transplant Program, which consists of a team of experts in kidney, liver, lung, and small bowel transplantation. SickKids is one of only two centres in Canada to perform this latter type of transplant.

1997

  • An SickKids geneticist leads an international team of researchers that identifies a human blood cell that regrows the entire blood system. The discovery provides greater understanding of how the blood system functions and enables development of new for blood diseases such as leukemia, thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
  • The drugs most commonly prescribed for depression are safe to use during pregnancy, according to the results of a study led by SickKids researchers. Their findings provide physicians with the information needed to reassure women that exposure to these drugs during the first trimester or continuous use during pregnancy is safe.
  • Two landmark studies published by SickKids researchers promise to change the practice of circumcising infant boys. The studies demonstrated that not only do infants feel and remember circumcision pain, but that use of a topical anaesthetic cream safely and significantly reduces pain.
  • SickKids researchers identify a genetic basis for a previously unidentified human immune disorder that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal system and lungs. Despite severe tissue damage caused by the disorder, researchers were able to completely reverse it with a bone marrow transplant. They are now considering whether bone marrow transplantation might be an option for patients with debilitating auto-immune diseases.

1996

  • An international team of scientists, led by the former director of the SickKids Research Institute, discovered the gene responsible for more than 60 per cent of all cases of Fanconi anemia, a rare and devastating blood disorder.
  • SickKids researchers discovered a gene implicated in the development of colon cancer, bringing cancer researchers a step closer to understanding what causes cells to multiply uncontrollably - an activity that leads to the development of malignancies.
  • Researchers identify a major regulatory gene that is a critical control of retina and eye development in mammals. Research indicates that the network of genes required to form an eye may be similar in species ranging from flies to mammals. The discovery of the gene may have long-term implications for the treatment of conditions that cause destruction of the retina in humans.
  • Researchers identify a gene that causes holoprosencephaly, a disease that can lead to major structural defects of the head. Called Sonic Hedgehog, this is the first time a link between a human gene and the disease has been discovered.
  • The effectiveness of Menkes disease treatment was confirmed by characterizing the severe mutations on treated patients including one, who, at age 19, is the world's longest surviving Menkes patient
  • Researchers develop a novel concept for anti-cancer treatment of recurrent acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer.
  • The Telemedicine Clinic opens (now known as Telehealth), providing an interactive video link between SickKids and Health Sciences North in Thunder Bay. A physician at SickKids can now direct an examination, make a diagnosis, and provide follow-up care. The clinic is used to see children requiring any type of pre-operative, post-operative and follow-up treatment.
  • A new liver disease caused by excessive amounts of zinc and copper is identifed. The condition was discovered when doctors found abnormally dense deposits of copper and zinc in livers removed at transplantation. Although there are several diseases in which high levels of copper are found in the liver, there is no known disease in which the liver contains high concentrations of zinc.

1995

  • A clinical trial of the drug alpha 1-antitrypsin demonstrates its effectiveness in markedly decreasing the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in high-risk infants.
  • SickKids virologists discovered a new virus named the Toronto virus or the torovirus, which may be the most common agent of viral gastroenteritis or diarrheal disease, a leading cause of sickness in Canadian children.
  • The Critical Care Program embarks on an evolutionary approach to the treatment of acute lung failure in children -- partial liquid ventilation. The liquid is instilled into the damaged lungs of children with life threatening lung disease. As part of a multicentre trial, this novel therapy may minimize further lung injury and promote healing.
  • SickKids and Women's College Hospital launch an HIV/AIDS Family Centered Care Program to provide coordinated health services for women with HIV, their partners, and children.
  • The Women's Auxiliary supports SickKids very first endowed chair -- the $2-million Women's Auxiliary Chair in Neonatology.
  • The leading causes of death in Metro Toronto for newborns and children up to the age of 19 are severe health problems that develop before birth or within the first few weeks of life. To improve the outlook for these children, SickKids, working with others, has developed the University of Toronto Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Centre, that links existing programs and efforts in prenatal diagnosis now provided at four local teaching hospitals: Mt. Sinai, Women's College, The Toronto Hospital and SickKids.
  • On International Literacy Day, SickKids officially opened the Reading Room. Since then authors, celebrities and dozens of staff have read to children who visit the book-lined centre, a symbol of the Hospital's commitment to literacy as a key determinant of health.
  • Previously thought to be a disorder affecting only older children and adults, Wilson disease was identified as a cause of liver disease in very young children.

1994

  • The first biological proof that second-hand cigarette smoke can affect a fetus is provided.
  • The genetic defect responsible for CD8 deficiency, a rare disease which causes children to be born with faulty immune systems is identified.
  • A new therapy was developed for treating retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye affecting infants. The treatment avoids radiation and can save the eye.

1993

  • The gene responsible for Wilson disease -- an inherited disorder in which copper accumulates in the liver and is released to other parts of the body, leading to severe liver and brain damage -- was discovered.
  • A drug treatment is developed for Menkes disease, a neurological disorder that kills children before age three.

1992

  • Cows' milk is identified as a possible causative agent in juvenile diabetes in genetically susceptible children.
  • Gene responsible for Fanconi anemia (a rare but devastating blood disease) was discovered. (Team led by Dr. Manuel Buchwald.)

1990

  • SickKids first heart transplant was performed.SickKids now performs approximately 15 heart transplants each year - about 80 per cent of Canada's paediatric heart transplants.
  • Tumour suppressor genes are discovered to play a role in the cause of Wilms tumour, a kidney cancer affecting children.

1989

  • Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui led a team that discovered the gene which, when defective, is responsible for cystic fibrosis.

1988

  • The gene defect that causes Tay-Sachs disease was identified

1987

  • Rapid advancements take place in genetics: the gene responsible for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is identified, followed by the gene defect that causes Tay-Sachs disease (1988), the defective gene and molecular defect responsible for cystic fibrosis (1989), the gene responsible for one form of Fanconi's Anemia (1992), and the gene responsible for Wilson disease (1993).

1986

  • SickKids liver transplant program began. Between 15 and 20 per year are now being performed

1979

  • A team led by Dr. A. Charles Bryan invented a radically different ventilator, the high frequency oscillator, which is now used world wide to gently "shake" oxygen into the lungs of infants and children with severe lung disease sparing many of them from undergoing lung bypass procedures
  • Dr. Robert Salter develops continuous passive motion, an improved method of treating patients with damaged cartilage.

1976

  • Canada's first bone marrow transplant program begins. Two years earlier, Canada's first successful bone marrow transfer was done at SickKids on a four-year-old patient with congenital aplastic anaemia. In 1990 the first successful bone marrow transplant for a patient with Omenn's Syndrome was performed.
  • SickKids' Mobile Hearing Clinic hit the road. Studies showed the average age of hearing impairment detection for a child in Northern Ontario was later than that of a child in Toronto.