Year 4 - Reaching New Heights - Q3 report

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Year 4 – Reaching New Heights Q3 Highlights November 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023

Quarter 3 Highlights

A thriving and engaged research community, driving advancements in health

Executive Committee

Nicole Sbrocca (out-going Chair) WindsorRegionalHospital

Peter Wawrow (in-coming Chair) St.ClairCollege

Jonathan Foster WindsorRegionalHospital

Caroline Hamm WindsorRegionalHospital

Alison Murray HôtelDieuGraceHealthcare

Heather Pratt UniversityofWindsor

Neelu Sehgal ErieShoresHealthCare

Chad Sutherland UniversityofWindsor

Jennifer Voth HôtelDieuGraceHealthcare

Lisa Porter


Karen Metcalfe


Year 4 – Reaching New Heights

Igniting Discovery, Living Better

In our first three years we established a strong common vision, united our strengths and accelerated our research activities. We continued to expand and build efficiencies within our health research ecosystem, made diversity and inclusion a priority and supported researchers at all stages of their career. We ended our year by hosting a celebratory event that focused on the impact of health research and what can be accomplished when we focus on succeedingtogether. The details can be found in our Year 3 Impact Report

In Year 4, we are focused on continuing to support the people that drive health research in our community and accelerate research to become successful funded projects. We are focused on growing health innovation and critical infrastructure, creating an environment that is attractive to the brightest minds and demonstrating the importance of health research for the economic development of our region. We aim to ignite discovery, reachnewheights andlivebetter

Lisa A. Porter, PhD, Executive Director Distinguished Professor, University of Windsor


Lisa Porter, Executive Director

Karen Metcalfe, Assistant Director

Kyle Lago, Translational Research Associate

Devinder Moudgil, Medical Student Research Associate

Ryan Palazzolo, Student Network Coordinator

Christopher Ng Fletcher, Innovation Research Associate

Linda Hudson-Chapman, Administrative Assistant

Cathy Mombourquette, Special Projects-Media Relations

Niklas Pizzolitto, Administrative Assistant

Year 4 – Q3 Page 2

Organizational Effectiveness

Build the effective organizational structures and systems we need to achieve our mission


Year 4 Milestones

a) Continue quarterly reporting and tracking that leads to the yearly impact report

b) Monitor and adapt budget reporting

c) Implement a fundraising plan

d) Develop MOUs between WE-SPARK institutions, as needed

e) Review current terms, policies and reporting mechanisms to identify and respond to changing needs

f) Implement the next strategic planning cycle


d) Develop MOUs between WE-SPARK Institutions, as needed

On November 16th, 2022, Erie Shores HealthCare joined HôtelDieu Grace Healthcare, St. Clair College, the University of Windsor and Windsor Regional Hospital as an official partner of WE-SPARK Health Institute during an MOU signing and celebration.

f) Implement the next strategic planning cycle

A formal bid for potential vendors to support a regional health research strategic planning process was launched Closing date for RFP submissions was January 27th

Driving Organizational Effectiveness – Governance Committee

Next Meeting: April 12, 2023 (committee meets quarterly)

Lisa Porter (Chair), WE-SPARK

Alison Murray, HDGH

Heather Pratt, UW

Nicole Sbrocca, WRH

Neelu Sehgal, ESHC

Monica Staley Liang, SCC

Karen Metcalfe, WE-SPARK

Year 4 – Q3 Page 4

Research Excellence

Year 4 Milestones

a) Host events that build collaboration, grow teams and support professional development research excellence forward

b) Continue to host the WE-SPARK Grant competitions to support local researchers to elevate grant success at the national level

c) Profile and track successes of Core Members to elevate the academic profile of Windsor-Essex

d) Provide opportunities for research mentorship

e) Consult and grow WE-SPARK programs

f) Provide a central hub for research processes and system navigation

g) Monitor the progress toward a regional Research Ethics Board (REB)

h) Provide support for external peer review

i) Initiate and continue to evolve the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) action plan

j) Bring together local experts to develop position papers that advocate for change


a) Host events that build collaboration, grow teams and support professional development that moves local research excellence forward

Hosted 3 Events and a 2-day Conference

In Q3 we hosted 3 WE-SPARK After Dark events and the first Health Research Conference The 2-day event included 67 posters, 36 oral presentations and 14 student awards. Feedback from participants was extremely positive with an overall 4.5/5 rating. Planning has already begun for the 2023 conference. Save the date for November 4th @ Caesars Windsor.

“Auniqueandinspiringexperiencethatputsafocusonthe importanceofbringingresearcherstogethertosharetheir experiencewithothers”

Driving Research Excellence – Research Development Committee

Next Meeting: February 17, 2023 (committee meets every 6 weeks)

Caroline Hamm (co-chair), WRH

Chris Abeare, UW

Jessica Bennett, WRH

Kyle Jackson, SCC

Balraj Jhawar, WRH

DJ MacNeil, HDGH

Jody Ralph, UW

Simon Rondeau-Gagne, UW

Ingrid Qemo, UW

Jennifer Voth (co-chair), HDGH

Peter Wawrow, SCC

Lisa Porter, WE-SPARK

Karen Metcalfe, WE-SPARK

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Create a dynamic research environment that enables, supports and promotes excellence

Research Excellence

b) Continue to host the WE-SPARK grant competitions to support local researchers to elevate grant success at the national level

The 2023 grants competition is ready to be launched in Q4. The updated guidelines and application package have been finalized and review panels confirmed. All 67 projects funded by our grants program over the past 4 years can be found on our website.

Conference In Pictures
Special Thanks to our Conference Sponsors
Year 4 – Q3 Page 6

Research Excellence

c) Profile and track successes of Core Members to elevate the academic profile of Windsor-Essex

We continue to add new members to our research ecosystem, surpassing members, adding 129 members in Q3. The most growth was seen in the researcher categories

Highlighting Member Profiles, Projects and Successes

Our research activities are driven by our Principal and Core Associate Members who are actively engaged in research on a daily basis. Members profiles, projects and successes continue to be shared on social media, newsletters and added to the WE-SPARK website.

Members are asked to submit research activities and successes for the bi-monthly newsletter. They are distributed to our research community and archived on our website. The newsletter for Q3 highlighted:

• $100K in new funding

• 8 publications

• 20 awards

Local physicians and healthcare providers need academic appointments to build their research programs. In Q3, WE-SPARK facilitated 5 Adjunct Appointments in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Windsor for the following members:

Clinical Assistant Professor Appointments: Dr. Padmaja Naidu, Dr. Nikesh Adunuri, Dr. Kiran Tatlay and Dr. Ross Lepera Professor of Practice Appointment: Christine Wellington, R.D., MS., BSc.

Publishing Dates

June, 2022

August, 2022

October, 2022

December, 2022

February, 2023

April, 2023

f) Provide a central hub for research processes and system navigation

Fresh tissue trials have been successfully relaunched, with patient tissue collected at WRH transported to research labs at UWindsor. WE-SPARK’s Translational Research Associate, Kyle Lago is coordinating and documenting study processes in preparation for expansion.

Year 4– Q3 Page 7

Community Engagement

Enhance understanding and build trust with the community

Year 4 Milestones

a) Create workshops, series and/or events that engage the community and build the profile of WE-SPARK

b) Showcase research facilities and projects happening in the community

c) Maintain social media engagement while continuing to refine messaging to target audiences

d) Broaden community understanding of WE-SPARK through media relations, our community newsletter and speaking engagements, locally, regionally and provincially

e) Continue to evolve our website capabilities and reach

f) Implement the WE-SPARK Engage program to invite the community to join our research efforts


a) Create workshops, series and/or events that engage the community and build the profile of WE-SPARK

Planning is underway for the 2023 Cheers to Hope celebration to be held on April 20th. The event has been rebranded and has set a goal of raising $300,000 for the WESPARK grants program. Funding grants brings all of the important benefits of health research: supports training, permits acquisition of new infrastructure, supports discovery happening here first, benefitting our local patients, our students and our local economy.

e) Continue to evolve our website capabilities and reach WESPARKHEALTH COM

Total Q3 Unique Visits

Most Visited Pages in Q3

Driving Community Understanding - Community Engagement Committee

Next Meeting: February 8, 2023 (committee meets quarterly)

Dora Cavallo-Medved, UW

Stephanie DeFranceschi, SCC

Allison Johnson, WRH

Chad Sutherland (Chair), UW

Maciah Telfer, HDGH

Karen Metcalfe, WE-SPARK

Year 4 – Q3 Page 8

Community Engagement

c) Maintain social media presence and engagements, while continuing to refine messaging to target audiences

@wesparkhealth continued to engage the community on all social media platforms during Q3 You will see a shift from standard to tailored content according to the platform and type of audience, and including more pictures in the coming months We have engaged our Student network and now have a social media intern who will be working on new content for Q4. We have added 277 new followers since last quarter. Be sure to follow us to stay up to date on local research news.

d) Broaden community understanding of WE-SPARK through media relations and community engagements locally, provincially and nationally

Select Featured Media Stories

In Q3, WE-SPARK was part of 17 local mainstream news stories, 46 stories in partner newsletters/communications and 4 in national/other media. Sample stories:

AM800: Internationally recognized experts speak at local research conference

CBC Radio: St. Clair College given ¾ of a million dollars to tackle youth homelessness and school nutrition

Windsor Star: Erie Shores HealthCare joins WE-SPARK Health Institute

CTV News: $720K grant awarded to St. Clair College to tackle homelessness and school nutrition programs

The Conversation: WithCOVID, flu and RSV circulating, it’s time to follow the evidence: Return tomask mandates

SpringerLink: Monthly correlates of longitudinal child mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic according to children and caregivers

WRH Pulse: Awards recognize collaboration in health research

Expanding our Network and Making Connections

WE-SPARK expands our network by speaking at events, providing sponsorship and collaborating on initiatives locally, regionally, provincially and nationally. Some connections made in Q3:

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Knowledge Translation

Translate research information to inspire and drive change

Year 4 Milestones

a) Expand the student research network and integrate with existing student programs and services at St. Clair College and UWindsor

b) Expand, promote, and streamline management of our Health Research Resource Hub

c) Expand and promote the Knowledge Translation Toolkit, including tools for commercialization, and increase awareness to our research community

d) Support student experiential learning, novel training opportunities and professional development

e) Develop and implement a plan for increasing engagement with industry and community partners


a) Expand the student research network and integrate with existing student programs and services at St. Clair College and UWindsor

In Q3, we created a new student leadership team that meets bi-weekly. Each lead supports a different WE-SPARK priority area:

• Fundraising Lead - Mackenzie Burnett

• Conference Lead - Megan Thorne

• Outreach Lead - Fatima Kadri

• Research Admin Assistant - Amy Llancari

• Grant Program Intern - Amy Llancari

• Research KT Intern - Aya El-Hashemi

• Cancer Program Lead - Eddie Grimmett

• Website Intern - Kim Morin

The KT Committee is working with our Student Network Coordinator to elevate the network model by:

Exploring models to integrate the student network with existing courses/programs.

Developing clear channels for student training in various areas of health research, including a website navigation system to guide students through unique training opportunities.

Driving Knowledge Translation – Knowledge Translation Committee

Next Meeting: May 11, 2023 (committee meets quarterly)

Pete Wawrow (Co-Chair), SCC

Dave Andrews, UW

Becky Berlasty, SCC

Allison Brooks, ESHC

Martin Crozier, UW

Linda DiRosa, HDGH

Dora Cavallo-Medved (Co-Chair), UW

Mason Leschyna, ESHC

Noeman Mirza, UW

Indryas Woldie, WRH

Lisa Porter, WE-SPARK

Karen Metcalfe, WE-SPARK

Year 4 – Q3 Page 10

Knowledge Translation

d) Support student experiential learning, novel training opportunities and professional development in health research

In collaboration with the University of Windsor’s Office of Research and Innovation and Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Windsor Campus, 2 events were hosted to support the 2023 SWORP Competition, a face-to-face “mixer” event to pair medical students with researchers and a virtual workshop to outline the steps involved in the application process. SWORP applications were due on January 23rd and are now moving forward with the review process.

The first cohort of students in the Master of Science in Translational Health Science are in the final stages of completing their course requirements. Research projects are moving ahead and their work was showcased at the WE-SPARK Health Research Conference with 14 posters presented. The program is designed to provide students with education and skills to enter a wide variety of career paths in translational health sciences.

e) Develop and implement a plan for increasing engagement with industry and community partners

The WE-SPARK Innovation Hub was officially launched on November 24th with a virtual kick off event. Three Ambassadors shared their diverse approaches to innovation through a moderated panel discussion. Over 40 people attended. Innovation Ambassadors are researchers and healthcare workers involved in innovation projects that translate their research and/or clinical experience into products, services, programs, and/or processes that are successfully implemented and impactful.

Year 4 – Q3 Page 11

Build Capacity

Secure the resources needed to achieve our mission

Year 4 Milestones

a) Support and expand use of data sharing platforms for our researchers

b) Create research ecosystem maps to facilitate clear reporting and communication pathways for WESPARK members, staff and committees

c) Facilitate joint funding plan for large infrastructure grants by creating multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary teams in preparation for large infrastructure grant competitions

d) Explore and evolve infrastructure planning and a capital plan, including a research infrastructure map of Southwestern Ontario

e) Implement the NUCLEUS plan, including collecting key core facility metrics and developing promotional content to inform our members and the community about research infrastructure


a) Support and expand use of data sharing platforms for our researchers

REDCap continues to be a popular data sharing platform for our health researchers. Two factor authentication has been implemented for improved security and a Service Level Agreement has been drafted and will be ready for distribution in Q4.


Training and Support

Driving Research Capacity – NUCLEUS Committee

Next Meeting: To Be Determined

Renee Biss, UW

Arezoo Emadi, UW

Jackie Fong, UW

Wendy Foote, SCC

Phil Karpowicz, UW

Kyle Lago, WE-SPARK

Krista Naccarato, WRH

Michelle Nevett, UWindsor

Ken Ng, UW

Ming Pan, WRH

Lisa Porter, WE-SPARK

Jody Ralph, UW

Chad Sutherland, UW

Pete Wawrow, SCC

Year 4 – Q3 Page 12

Build Capacity


A key strategic objective of WE-SPARK is to create efficiencies across the health research ecosystem, increase the critical mass of health researchers and create an environment that allows the health research environment to grow within organizations and as a collective. Every quarter, WE-SPARK’s Executive Committee meets to report on committee progress, ensure transparency and agree on metrics to be reported. They also provide reports on institutional research progress. A few highlights are provided:

New positions continue to be added to research teams across the partner organizations HDGH is particularly excited about a full-time research position dedicated to the Regional Children’s Centre. The University of Windsor is adding a new Director of Research Partnerships position, are anticipating the announcement of a new VPRI and have requested submissions for Canada Research Chair positions, many in the area of health

Major projects across the partners are connecting with conversations focused on building infrastructure and services that better serve our region, including the new hospital system, positioning of an accelerator for boron neutron capture therapy, a Health Innovation Park and re-location of WECHU.

Increased research activity continues including collaborative grant submissions, upcoming funding announcements and award nominations. A few noteworthy updates:

• WRH – 25 independent clinician led projects, development of a research mentorship program and progress towards achieving academic status

• HDGH – 5 funded grants received in the past year, 200 patients consented to participate in research, 25 research projects were supported, 4 manuscripts were published and 5 conference presentations. A regular monthly research feature has been added to staff communications

• SCC + UWIN – collaborated and submitted a proposal to Ministry of Colleges and Universities for an International Student Mental Health Call

• UWIN – Successful OICR and CIHR grants (over $1M), 2 nominations were submitted for the Royal Society of Canada

• ESHC – initial steps being taken to capture the research activity already taking place and creating standardized pathways to support future growth

More clinicians are involved in research and taking on leadership roles

• Increased number of clinician led publications

• Presentations at high profile, international conferences being reported

Student involvement in research projects continues with important contributions being made to publications and conference presentations. The mix of undergraduate, graduate and medical students on project teams provides a rich learning environment for all.

Year 4 – Q3 Page 13

Looking Forward

Igniting Discovery, ReachingNewHeights, Living Better

Reporting Timeline

Below are a few action items you can expect to see in coming months.

Organizational Effectiveness

• Finalize a budget for the next 5 years that includes plans for sustainability and grants program support

• Work with external consultants to launch a regional health research strategic planning process

• Prepare content for the Year 4 Impact Report

Research Excellence

• Launch the 2023 Grants Competition

• Begin to promote local health research through Research Canada

• Launch the 2023 Health Research Conference website

• Increase use and engagement of the WE-SPARK App

Knowledge Translation

• Expand and re-design the research tool-kit

• In collaboration with University of Windsor, VPRI and Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, adjudicate the 2023 SWORP competition

Community Engagement

• Launch a fundraising campaign that ends with the annual Cheers to Hope event (April 20, 2023)

• Implement new content on social media

Build Capacity

• Streamline metrics collection across partners to better report on the growth of health research capacity in our region

• Contribute to the Research Data Management strategies being developed across the partners


Year 4 –
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Appendix: Year 4 Budget

May 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023

• Research Director Stipend/Teaching Release

• Assistant Director Salary

• Translational Research Associate

• Administrative Assistant

• Nucleus Manager

• Medical Student Research Associate

• Social Media and Communications Coordinator

• Student Network Research Associate

• Innovation Research Associate

Proposed 2022-2023
Discretionary, Supplies and Consumables (meetings,
equipment, printing, Professional Development, software licenses, etc.) $40,000 Marketing & Website (including dissemination) $30,000 WE-Spark Grant Competitions $100,000 TOTAL $550,000 Operating Revenue (Partner Contributions) University of Windsor $200,000 Windsor Regional Hospital $100,000 Hotel-Dieu Grace $100,000 St Clair $100,000 Erie Shores Healthcare $50,000 TOTAL $550,000 Year 4– Q3 Page 15
Conference Coordinator
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