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About Sickkids
About SickKids

December 31, 2013

We made headlines in 2013

It was an especially memorable 2013 for SickKids, with the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning opening its doors. But the new building was just one of the many great SickKids stories that made headlines in 2013. Let's take a trip back through the year and revisit the headlines:

January – March

The year began with researchers discovering that early life exposure to normal bacteria of the GI tract may protect against autoimmune disease in mice. The study, led by SickKids’ Dr. Jayne Danska, was published online in the January 17 edition of Science. It may also have uncovered reasons why females are at greater risk of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus compared to males. Media coverage included CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, Medical Express, Bioworld Today, German Public Radio, Everyday Health, Science Codex, Science Daily and others.

A new pilot project in Oncology at SickKids aims to deliver treatment for osteosarcoma (bone tumour) at home with the help of a backpack filled with IV fluid. This backpack treatment not only reduces time spent in hospital, but also has a significant impact of the quality of life of its patients. Media coverage included CBC Toronto, CTV Toronto, City News and the Toronto Star. A YouTube video was also produced.

A CMAJ study found that magnet ingestion by young children is a serious and growing  problem. These super magnets can adhere to each other inside the body and cause life-threatening problems such as bowel perforations. The study was published March 11. Media coverage included Global News, Canada.com, Medical Daily, Vancouver Sun, 680 News, CBC News, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and LA Times.

SickKids music therapists Carolyn Williams and Ruth Roberts discussed the music therapy program at SickKids and its impact on patients and families in a series of stories. Media coverage included City News, Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Global News and Montreal Gazette.

A team of Canadian and international researchers discovered a new type of retinoblastoma, a rapidly developing eye cancer, that affects very young babies. The study led by Dr. Brenda Gallie was published in the March 13, 2013 online edition of Lancet Oncology. This finding is a breakthrough in recognizing that a single cancer gene (an oncogene) drives an aggressive retinoblastoma that starts long before birth in families with no history of the disease. Media coverage included the Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Medical Express, Red Orbit, Science Daily, Global News and Hamilton Spectator.

SickKids patients became doctors-for-a-day at the fifth annual Teddy Bear Clinic on March 13. The patients led their cuddly friends through a typical day at the hospital, but this time they were the ones performing the checkups. Media coverage included CTV Toronto, CBC Toronto and City News.

April – June

Spring and early summer saw media interest in SickKids experts heat up. Here are some examples of where SickKids was in the news:

Dr. Glen Van Arsdell and radiologist Shi-Joon Yoo described the revolutionary role of 3D printers at SickKids. Global Toronto covered the story and highlighted how 3D printing helps surgeons explain procedures to patients, better prepare for surgery, and train new staff more effectively.

Nurse Charis Kelly won the 2013 Toronto Star Nightingale award for her outstanding performance. Along with her award, Kelly was further featured in the Star’s nursing special section highlighting her special touch with patients and families.

In May, the Toronto Star looked to Dr. Peter Szatmari for his take on the updated DSM-5 handbook guiding the diagnosis of mental disorders. Szatmari praised the streamlined and simplified approach of the new manual, but expressed reservation regarding the newly created diagnosis of “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder,” which describes kids with severe temper outbursts that happen about three or more times a week for at least a year.

On May 15, SickKids celebrated the first international Kangaroo Care Awareness Day. NICU nurse Carrie Macdonald explained the benefits of kangaroo care to CityNews. Medical research has shown that pre-term babies grow and get better faster when they have skin-to-skin contact with their mom and dad.

The arrival of global child health trailblazer Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta at SickKids was featured in the Toronto Star. The front page story highlighted the impressive academic track record and work ethic of the new Director of Research of Global Child Health at SickKids.

SickKids paediatrician and researcher Dr. Catherine Birken put the spotlight on unhealthy eating habits as a major contributor to increases in cholesterol levels in young children. The study was published online June 17 in the CMAJ. Media coverage included:

Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO, was profiled in the summer issue of UofT Magazine. The article titled “Taking Care” is a tribute to the former nurse who has been at the helm of SickKids since 2004 and is retiring at the end of the year.

July – September

The fifth annual After Hours Teen Event took place on July 5. This year’s Hollywood-inspired party was a blockbuster hit, receiving rave reviews from the about 80 teen patients and friends who celebrated the milestone at SickKids. The teens got the full A-list treatment with a professional makeup, hair and nail team, a photo booth and swag bags. Toronto FC players in tuxedos handed out corsages to the ladies. Media coverage included CTV Toronto (live), CBC Toronto, Toronto Star, Toronto Star blog, CTV Canada AM, City TV, CP24 and CBC Radio One.

An international research team led by SickKids was the first autism study to determine the entire DNA code, a process called whole genome sequencing, and provide a definitive look at the wide-ranging genetic variation associated with autism. This is a promising finding, as current diagnostic technology has only been able to determine a genetic etiology in about 20 per cent of autism patients tested. Media coverage included the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Canadian Press (picked up by the National Post, CBC News Health, CTVNews.ca, GlobalNews.ca, MetroNews.ca, Huffington Post Canada, Hamilton Spectator, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun and several other newspapers), Science Daily, News Medical and more.

The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning swept the headlines. Throughout August, a variety of local and national media outlets had a sneak peak of the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at SickKids with President and CEO Mary Jo Haddad and Chief of Research Dr. Janet Rossant.

Here are some of the media highlights:

  • Canadian Press: SickKids Hospital research tower designed to spur collaboration, discovery; Hospital research tower no silo for scientists
  • The Globe and Mail: SickKids gets a Bay Street tower of its own; Glass pods, open staircases invite collaboration in work space for more than 2,000 pediatric health researchers
  • National Post: Building chemistry; To encourage more mingling, new research facility has been divided into "neighbourhoods" of two to three storeys
  • Toronto Star: SickKids unites doctors, scientists; New building bridges gap between clinic and laboratory in quest for breakthroughs
  • CBC Radio Metro Morning and in other CBC radio news segments
  • CBC Toronto
  • Global Toronto
  • Global National
  • CTV Toronto  
  • Toronto Star: SickKids honours donor's $40M gift; New research centre named after Peter Gilgan, founder of Mattamy Homes
  • UrbanToronto.ca: SickKids' Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning Prepares for Fall Opening
  • Newstalk 1010: SickKids Centre for Research and Learning
  • InsideToronto.com: SickKids researchers will soon be under one roof
  • CityNews

On Sept. 17, media returned to the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning for the grand opening.

Here are some of the media highlights:

In September, Dr. James Wright co-authored a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study concluded that bracing significantly decreased the progression of high-risk curves to the threshold for surgery in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).  Bracing has long been part of treatment for AIS, but no previous study has demonstrated whether it is better than simple observation at preventing progression. Media coverage included CBC News Toronto, CBC.ca, CBC Radio: The Afternoon Edition and CBC Radio One World Report, 680 News and Canadian Family Magazine. The study was also covered in the New York Times and National Post.

Dr. Kathy Boutis co-authored a study published in the Journal of Pedatrics. The study revealed that about half of parents of children with head injuries were aware of the potential cancer risks from CT scans; most parents thought that the radiation exposure from a head CT were similar to a regular X-ray. Media coverage included CBC.ca, the Toronto Sun, Fox News, Diagnostic Imaging and more. The study was also mentioned on CBS News and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Andrew James, co-investigator of the Artemis Project, discussed his research with national and international media. The Artemis Project is a joint research initiative between SickKids and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology about the use of information technology to improve the quality of care for critically ill newborn babies. The goal for the project is to provide the very best information for decision-making, and therefore, assist physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists provide better and faster care for babies in the NICU. Media coverage included BBC Science Club, CNBC, CBC National and Global Toronto.

October December

Dr. Andrew Howard published a study on the safety of pedestrian countdown signals. The study concluded that countdown signals have actually increased crashes between people and cars. Media coverage included:

Transgender teens in the Greater Toronto Area now have better access to health-care services, with the opening of the Transgender Youth Clinic at SickKids this past October. The medical support offered through the clinic includes consultations with an interdisciplinary team who provide ongoing assessments to ensure patients are receiving appropriate counselling, and in some cases hormone therapy to prevent pubertal changes. Media coverage included:
- Toronto Star  
- Canadian Press, which was also published by CTV Toronto, Global News, Huffington Post Canada and CBC.ca 
- Global Morning Show
- Canadian Medical Association Journal 

SickKids officially launched the Garron Family MIBG suite, which will offer young patients access to an innovative, targeted treatment for relapsed neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nerve tissue, is responsible for 10 per cent of cancer-related deaths in children worldwide. The Garron Family MIBG Suite at SickKids is the first paediatric MIBG centre in Ontario, second in Canada and one of only 13 in North America. It is the largest in size in the country. Media interviewed Mary Jo Haddad, CEO and President; Dr. Sylvain Baruchel, Director of the New Agent and Innovative Therapy Program in Haemotology/Oncology;  Lilah Petersiel, SickKids patient ambassador and neuroblastoma survivor, and Tami Moscoe, Lilah’s mom. Media highlights include CTV Toronto, CBC Toronto, Toronto Star, 680 News and City Centre Mirror  

The number of people with Type 1 diabetes is increasing around the world. While the cause remains unknown, it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that trigger the immune system to destroy the insulin producing cells. TrialNet, a group of international scientists, are working together to figure out how to slow the progress of Type 1 diabetes and even prevent it from occurring. Dr. Diane Wherrett, Endocrinologist at SickKids and lead of the two TrialNet studies in Canada, talked about this research with CTV Toronto’s health reporter Pauline Chan. 

Dr. Michael Apkon was profiled in Toronto Life as a new Toronto power broker as he begins his role as SickKids President and CEO in January 2014.  

On Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, SickKids celebrated the 25th anniversary of its HIV Comprehensive Care Program. HIV treatment has come a long way since the 1980s and the team at SickKids has seen a revolutionary improvement in the quality of life and prognosis for children with HIV. The Toronto Star profiled the program and spoke with Cheryl Arneson, the program's first nurse coordinator and Dr. Stanley Read, the program’s director, about their experience over the years. 

Throughout the holidays, Child Life hosted several events for patients and families. From pictures with Santa to ornament decorating, there were festive activities almost every day in December. Child Life Specialist, Susie Petro, highlighted some of the events that took place over the holidays with CTV Toronto. Some of the events included  a special delivery from the Canadian Armed Forces and Santa’s elves, as they delivered early Christmas presents to SickKids. Media coverage included CTV Toronto, Toronto Sun, City News, Breakfast Television, CP24 and 680 News. On another day, patients and families met the Lady Leafs and Toronto Maple Leafs player Colton Orr at a gingerbread cookie decorating event in the Winter Lounge. Media coverage included CTV Toronto, CP24, CityNews and the Toronto Maple Leafs blog.

After a double lung transplant this fall, SickKids patient Danielle Mathia and her family are happy to be home for the holidays this year. The family shared their story with the Toronto Star in five-part series on the joy of Christmas. 

At the end of December, SickKids said farewell to Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO, who retired after 30 dedicated years to the hospital. On her last day, she reflected on her long career at SickKids in an interview on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

Visit the Newsroom for SickKids-issued news releases and web stories from 2013.