Towards a learning healthcare system through collaboration

There is no question that the looming grey tsunami of the ageing population in Ontario has significant implications with regards to healthcare services. A key concept which is emerging is the opportunity to foster and maintain brain health across the lifespan where optimal performance and quality is sustained. While much focus has been on the attempts to intervene once brain disease has taken hold, progress has been slow.

Clearly, new thinking and leveraging new opportunities will be necessary given the implications of an ageing at-risk population. The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) is leading the charge to engage a learning healthcare system by bringing research to the community and fostering best practices in data science. The emerging research in data science and using so-called ‘real-world data’ in effect pushes the boundaries of research from the high-end hospital-based system of formal clinical trials, towards a process of continuous quality improvement in the community, where research becomes normal activity fostering learning and refining best-in-class care.

In effect, we are striving to make the community the laboratory and the healthcare system itself, the engine of innovation and optimization. The pieces of this learning healthcare system are in place and while the integration of the various pieces is complex, data-driven approaches are where new knowledge will be discovered, deployed and assessed in service of maintained health spans. As we transition towards applying an integrated approach to keeping our brains healthy, we are implementing better ways to communicate our work. The renewed edition of our Brainnovations newsletter helps visualize our projects and achievements in connection to relevant outputs that move us closer to our goal.

By bringing together partners in neuroscience, healthcare, data science and industry, OBI is accelerating the pathway towards improved brain health and enhancing the health spans of people living in Ontario. The work we do and the steps we take forward are strengthening a foundation where we can equip ourselves in preparation for the large wave of healthcare challenges to come.

Another side of cerebral palsy: the genetic story

Photo credit: Veronica Rousseau

By: Shaalee Sone, Outreach Intern, Ontario Brain Institute

In the age of genomics we are racing to uncover what our genes say about us. If we had the ability to read our genetic code and learn what’s in store, we could play to our strengths and prepare for our limitations.

One obstacle to deciphering the information in our genes is knowing what patterns to look for in specific genes. For some disorders, like Huntington’s disease, clinicians know exactly what gene to look at and how to read the signs. Other diseases, like cancer, are too diverse to find a single gene pattern; instead, we subdivide cancer into sets and look for gene patterns in each set.

Continue reading “Another side of cerebral palsy: the genetic story”

International Self Care Day – 5 Tips for Maximizing Brain Health

Keeping our brains healthy is a great way to take care of ourselves; fortunately, what’s good for our bodies is also good for our brains.

The Ontario Brain Institute’s President and Scientific Director, Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, shares 5 tips to help you take charge of your brain health.

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OBI’s Founding President and Scientific Director Named Officer of the Order of Canada

A message from Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director

The Order of Canada is one of Canada’s highest civilian honours. It recognizes an individual’s outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation. 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of this unique award. During this especially notable year, we are thrilled to celebrate the recognition of the Ontario Brain Institute’s (OBI) Founding President and Scientific Director, Dr. Donald Stuss. Continue reading “OBI’s Founding President and Scientific Director Named Officer of the Order of Canada”

Built to Last? – Ontario’s First Dementia Strategy

By: David Harvey – ‎Chief, Public Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Alzheimer Society of Ontario

As the policy–making phase of the Ontario Dementia Strategy 2017 is reaching its conclusion, I was recently asked if it will make any difference. My questioner wondered if Ontario’s previous Alzheimer Strategy (1999-2004) had any lasting effect. I thought that it might be worthwhile to outline some of the achievements in the previous strategy as it might serve as a benchmark for how we can measure our next iteration. Continue reading “Built to Last? – Ontario’s First Dementia Strategy”