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About Sickkids
About SickKids

April 22, 2013

SickKids leads paediatric arm of the Canadian National Transplant Research Program

Funding for a new national transplant research program was announced today by the federal government. The Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP) aims to develop strategies to increase organ and tissue donation in Canada and ultimately improve outcomes for transplant patients across the country. This is the first program in the world to bring together researchers in solid organ transplant, bone marrow transplant and organ donation.

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is leading the paediatric arm of the program which involves a multidisciplinary team from six Canadian paediatric transplant centres. This particular project is focused on identifying biological and health care system factors that may impact solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant outcomes in children, and designing new diagnostics and interventions to optimize and personalize immunosuppression to improve long-term outcomes.

“As we begin the National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, this announcement represents a great stride forward for the field of transplantation in Canada, and for children needing transplantation in particular. This is the first nation-wide initiative that will bring together clinicians and scientists across the country to address the needs of this young and vulnerable population. Through our combined efforts, we hope to be able to improve the long-term survival and quality of life of our transplant patients,” says Dr. Seema Mital, lead of the paediatric project, and Cardiologist and Associate Scientist at SickKids.

Other SickKids researchers involved in the paediatric project are co-lead Dr. Upton Allen, and Dr. David Grant, Dr. Rulan Parekh, Dr. Tal Schechter-Finkelstein and Lee Dupuis.

The CNTRP includes over 105 investigators across nine provinces. It is made up of six research projects and is being led by Dr. Lori West, Professor of Pediatrics, Surgery and Immunology at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Maarten Egeler, Head of Stem Cell Transplantation in Haematology/Oncology and Senior Associate Scientist at SickKids is also involved in the CNTRP, specifically on projects two and four.  In project two, a national team of clinical scientists, bioethicists and legal specialists will define national strategies for recruitment of organ and hematopoietic stem cell donors in order to expand the donor pool in Canada. Project four will define strategies to induce tolerance to the clinical setting post transplantation with hopes of improving the survival of transplant patients by reducing prolonged need for immunosuppressive medication.

In addition to exploring the medical outcomes of transplant recipients, the program will also evaluate the ethical, legal, social and economic issues associated with transplantation. By uniting a diverse group of researchers, the CNTRP hopes to address the barriers to organ donation, increase the number of available organs, improve the quality and viability of donor organs and grafts and in effect improve long-term survival and quality of life of transplant patients.

The program is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in partnership with Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Liver Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Fonds de recherche en santé – Quebec, Genome British Columbia and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

For more information please see the government news release.