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CHEO Research Institute Celebrates Its Leading Lights Research Awards recognize dedication to excellence, integrity and collaboration

OTTAWA, December 21, 2018 – The CHEO Research Institute celebrated researchers and staff members and introduced a new award this year at its annual presentation of the Research Awards for Excellence. The six winners were recognized for their dedication to excellence in pediatric health research and making discoveries today for healthier kids tomorrow. Undertaking complex clinical trials and statistical analyses, providing guidance and direction to young researchers, leadership impact and living the core values of the CHEO RI are among the reasons why these awardees were recognized.

A new award this year, the CHEO RI Impact Award, was presented to Dr. Martin Osmond, CEO and Scientific Director of the CHEO RI. The award recognizes the impact that Dr. Osmond has had on the organization over the past decade; Dr. Osmond is stepping down from his role next June. During his tenure, research at CHEO has undergone tremendous growth with grant funding that has tripled , peer-reviewed publications increasing from 220 per year to more than 530 in the past year, and more than 100 publications per year appearing in high-impact journals. In addition, Dr. Osmond has recruited world-renowned researchers to the CHEO RI to strengthen both basic science and clinical research.

Dr. Denise Harrison, CHEO RI Scientist and Chair in Nursing Care of Children, Youth and Families, CHEO, was recognized as Outstanding Research Mentor. Since joining the RI in 2011, Dr. Harrison has mentored more than 80 staff and trainees. She is noted for her passion for teaching and her ability to find untapped potential in her trainees. She always recognizes the significant contributions her students make to her research, ensuring that they are listed as first author on published papers and encouraging them to apply for awards and grants.

In addition to a busy practice in pediatric neurology, Dr. Hugh McMillan, this year’s Outstanding Investigator, is undertaking very complex clinical trials to improve the outcomes of some of the sickest patients at CHEO. In fact, he’s currently conducting the most clinical trials of any investigator at the CHEO RI. Dr. McMillan works tirelessly to enroll patients into these trials to ensure successful studies and to improve the lives of children and families. He has advocated to lower barriers to clinical research at CHEO to make research easier across the hospital.

In one of the nominations received for Outstanding Research Coordinator, the nominator credited winner Joel Barnes with accelerating his career as a young scientist. Barnes’s humble demeanour, along with his willingness to take on new projects, his incredibly high aptitude in website development, his mastery of statistical analysis and his skill at coordinating multiple projects at the same time were noted by nominators and judges alike. He also walks the walk when it comes to the research he’s part of with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity (HALO) group – or “runs the run”. He takes active transportation seriously, running 12 kilometres into the CHEO RI every day.

Dr. Rebecca Hood was awarded the Outstanding Research Trainee Award. Her research has been integral to determining and understanding the pathogenic mechanisms underlying Floating Harbor Syndrome (FHS). Dr. Hood was a key member of the research team that identified the gene responsible for FHS and was the primary author on the publication that describes this finding, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. She is also a passionate advocate in scientific outreach through Let's Talk Science and has presented scientific concepts at local high schools and at the annual Stem Cell Talks symposium.

The Spirit of the RI is a special award because it recognizes someone who approaches her or his work with immense dedication and best exemplifies the CHEO RI core values. Hélène Sinclair received the Spirit of the RI award this year for her above and beyond approach when it comes to her work and her commitment to her extracurricular activities, including the CHEO Fit Club, now renamed the Fit and Well Club to reflect the group’s expansion to share activities that improve both physical and mental wellness. With Walktober, summer lunch strolls, Fit Club lunch and learns and the Health Bet Challenges, she's living the RI strategic plan theme of “Integrating research throughout CHEO” by undertaking the HALO research recommendations with the CHEO staff!

We congratulate all of our winners and all our nominees and thank those who put forward nominations for the awards.

And the winners are:

CHEO RI Impact Award           Dr. Martin Osmond
Outstanding Research Mentor   Dr. Denise Harrison
Outstanding Investigator           Dr. Hugh McMillan
Outstanding Research Coordinator Joel Barnes
Outstanding Research Trainee     Dr. Rebecca Hood
Spirit of the RI                          Hélène Sinclair

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