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Medical firsts at Canadian research hospitals tallied in new report


Ottawa, ON – The Association of Canadian Academic Healthcare Organizations (ACAHO), the national voice of teaching hospitals, regional health authorities and their research institutes (collectively known as “research hospital”) has released a report entitled “Eureka! World First Discoveries and Other Major Medical Breakthrough in ACAHO Member Institutions” which identifies over 100 world’s first discoveries and major medical breakthroughs.

Eureka! focuses on the essential role that Canada’s research hospitals play in creating the knowledge that comes from investments in health research. As a result, many world first discoveries have revolutionized the way in which cost-effective quality health services are delivered to Canadians, and the rest of the world. Some of the discoveries include:

– The discovery of insulin in 1922

– The first artificial kidney machine in 1948

– The first use of the “cobalt bomb” to treat cancer in 1951

– Discovered the gene defect responsible for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 1987

– Discovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis in 1989

– The first physical map of the human genome in 1995

– Sequencing of the SARS genome in 2003

– Performed first hospital-to-hospital telerobotic assisted surgery more than 400 kms away in 2003

– Identified nine factors that can predict heart attacks in 2003

– Treating prostate cancer using 3-D image guided radiation therapy in 2005

“Members of ACAHO continue to play a vital role in advancing the body of science related to health and health care, and drive new evidence into the clinical, administrative and policy-making processes,” said Dr Denis Roy, president of ACAHO and executive director of la Centre Hospitalier de L’Universite de Montreal. “Their work has been groundbreaking, if not revolutionary, global in its impact and playing a significant role opening up new avenues of scientific inquiry.” Of note, the list includes over 50 world first discoveries and major medical breakthroughs that have occurred since 2000.

“Importantly, a large majority of these innovations are a direct result of governments – notably the federal government – investing and supporting health research, which we strongly applaud,” said Glenn Brimacombe, CEO of ACAHO. “With the release of the federal government’s Science & Technology Strategy, the Association and its members look forward to developing a collaborative plan of action that will fully leverage our investments in health research so that Canadians will have access to state-of-the-art health services.”

Eureka! is the second of three reports focused on the role and contributions of canada’s research hospitals in relation to science and technology. The first report was released in November 2007 entitled Moving at the Speed of Discovery: From Bench to Bedside to Business, and the final report to be released in April 2008 is From Microscope to Marketplace: Spin-Off Companies from ACAHO Member Institutions.