Year 4 - Reaching New Heights - Q4 Fixed

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Year 4 – Reaching New Heights Q4 Highlights February 1, 2023 – April 30, 2023

Quarter 4 Highlights

A thriving and engaged research community, driving advancements in health

Executive Committee

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 WE-SPARKHealthInstitute

Karen Metcalfe WE-SPARKHealthInstitute

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 Porter, Executive Director

Karen Metcalfe, Assistant Director

Kyle Lago, Translational Research Associate

Ryan Palazzolo, Student Network Coordinator

Cathy Mombourquette, Special Projects-Media Relations

Niklas Pizzolitto, Administrative Assistant

Year 4 – Q4 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


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

All committees reviewed, revised and finalized the Year 5 Milestones that will guide WE-SPARK action items from May 1, 2023 to April 31, 2024.

Year 5

f) Implement the next strategic planning cycle

The formal bidding process and adjudication of applications was complete. All partners were included on the selection panel and chose Stiletto as the successful company. The consultants will be engaging stakeholders over the next few months with the Executive Committee planning session set for June 19th. Please look out for opportunities to provide input.

Driving Organizational Effectiveness – Governance Committee

Next Meeting: July 13, 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 – Q4 Page 4

Research Excellence

Create a dynamic research environment that enables, supports and promotes 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 In-Person Events and 5 Virtual

In Q4 we hosted 3 WE-SPARK After Dark events including a Don’t be Fooled Trivia night on April 6th Windsor Regional Hospital continued Virtual Grand Rounds with 1 presenter each month. We kicked off our 2023 Think Tank series, allowing people to make connections, present research ideas and mobilize next steps Six researchers presented their ideas with the April Think Tank focused on public health. A summary of outcomes can be found on the Think Tank landing page Our next session will be on June 23rd, is open to anyone who is interested and requires registration.

Driving Research Excellence – Research Development Committee

Next Meeting: May 26, 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

Year 4 – Q4 Page 5

Research Excellence

Think Tank Success

Think Tanks include a spotlight on past presenters and how their projects have progressed. Since presenting and 2019 and 2021, Dr. Rahim and Dr. Kichler have secured grant funding, presented and published findings, added new collaborators to project teams and created a peer support network

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

The 2023 grant competition was launched in February with over 30 Letters of Intent received. Full applications are due on May 5, adjudication will take place on June 6th and 7th and awards will be announced in July.

New this year, Dr. Ingrid Qemo, Health Research Coordinator, Office of Research and Innovation, University of Windsor offered a WE-SPARK Grant Writing Workshop to guide applicants through each section of the Igniting Discovery Grant application and provide tips for success. Time was set aside to answer questions and provide one-on-one consultation. Over 20 people participated.

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

There are now 104 active app accounts, 110+ messages in WE-SPARK central and a Daily digest sent to users every Monday to update on missed posts. @mentions and reaction buttons are now available to encourage interaction. As our research network grows, this app will be critical to staying engaged and connected. Be sure to sign up now! Not sure how you could use it, see it in action by checking out the promo video

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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.

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 Q4 highlighted:

• Over $1 Million in new funding

• 15 publications

• 5 awards

Local physicians and healthcare providers need academic appointments to build their research programs. In Q3, WE-SPARK facilitated 6 Adjunct Appointments in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Windsor for the following members:

Clinical Assistant Professor Appointments: Dr. Jennifer Voth, Dr. Larry Jacobs, Dr. Reema Ray, 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 continue to move forward with patient tissue collected at WRH transported to research labs at UWindsor. In Q4, 20 patient blood samples were included as part of the collection process. WE-SPARK’s Translational Research Associate, Kyle Lago is coordinating and documenting study processes in preparation for expansion.

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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

On April 20th, over 125 people came together for our annual fundraiser, Cheers to Hope. Thanks to our generous supporters, we have raised $275K for the WESPARK grants program, just shy of our $300K goal. For more information on the grant sponsors, the research projects featured at the event, grant metrics, and how to donate, visit our website.

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

Total Q4 Unique Visits

Most Visited Pages in Q4

Driving Community Understanding - Community Engagement Committee

Next Meeting: May 10, 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

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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 Q4. O media intern, Waffa Bakheet did an amazing job at adding new content, videos and formats advice of the Community Engagement Committee and adding the faces of research to more posts. The Cheers to Hope thank you video was a definite highlight! Here are a few sample posts:

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 22 local mainstream news stories, 53 stories in partner newsletters/communications and 13 in national/other media. Sample stories:

CBC News: UWindsor scientists get $750K toward potentially lifesaving fatty liver research

NGBIgIdeas: Dr. Porter shares her perspective on the growing life sciences sector in Windsor Essex. As Dr. Porter points out, if you're part of Canada's life sciences sector and you do not have Windsor on your radar, you should.

CTV News: ‘Without research hope is just a word’: WE-SPARK to host fundraiser Thursday

HRI Portal: Research study seeking to reframe experiences of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Research Canada: Researchers working to learn from COVID pandemic and prepare for emerging global pathogens

Research Canada: Regional health institute marks three-year milestone as one-of-a-kind WindsorEssex innovation

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 Q4:

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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


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

A record number of Schulich-UWindsor Opportunities for Research Excellence Program (SWORP) applications were received this year and in Q4, 10 successful grants were awarded. A formal announcement will be made in May and projects will begin in June.

Masters of Science in Translational Health Science finished the program with a colloquium to showcase all research projects. Three projects were sponsored by Invest Windsor-Essex to share their work at Cheers to Hope The first class will graduate on May 30th. The new cohort is ready to begin on May 8th with a record number of applications and the program almost doubling in size.

Driving Knowledge Translation – Knowledge Translation Committee

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

Linda DiRosa (Co-Chair), HDGH

Dave Andrews, UW

Beckie Berlasty, SCC

Allison Brooks, ESHC

Martin Crozier, UW

Mason Leschyna, ESHC

Dora Cavallo-Medved (Co-Chair), UW

Noeman Mirza, UW

Peter Wawrow, SCC

Indryas Woldie, WRH

Lisa Porter, WE-SPARK

Karen Metcalfe, WE-SPARK

Year 4 – Q4 Page 10

Knowledge Translation

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

In Q4, the student leadership team continued to support WE-SPARK priority areas, dedicating significant hours to projects and representing WE-SPARK at outreach events.

Thank you to our leads!

• 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

WE-SPARK leads finish their placements with providing feedback on their experience. This is what a few of them had to say:

Year 4 – Q4 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. Plans are moving forward for a Mock Disaster REDCap Instance Recovery and Joint WESPARK/ITS presentation around RDM to provide updates and answer questions from partners.


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

191 Users

Ming Pan, WRH

Lisa Porter, WE-SPARK

Jody Ralph, UW

Chad Sutherland, UW

Pete Wawrow, SCC

Year 4 – Q4 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:

Movement of personnel and new positions continue to be added to research teams across the partner organizations. ESHC has created a new research coordinator position with the successful candidate beginning May 1st HDGH hired a new research assistant, applied for funding for a full-time research coordinator dedicated to clinical trials has a new student research intern starting May 1st. WRH had some movement within the hospital with Dr. Gina Bulcke now overseeing the corporate office of Research, taking over for Jessica Bennett and Dr. Caroline Hamm is moving forward with recruitment for a Breast Cancer Fellow The University of Windsor has added a new Director of Research Partnerships and have announced the new VPRI Dr. Shathi Johnson who will be starting on July 1st. SCC is excited to expand their research personnel and have new members added to all WE-SPARK committees.

Major projects across the partners continue to connect with conversations focused on building infrastructure and services that better serve our region. Play for a Cure exceeded fundraising goals with their efforts tied to a research institute infrastructure. WRH is embarking on new research with the Windsor Family Health Team in collaboration with the mental health department and Ernst and Young was awarded the contract for the Health Innovation Park.

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

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

• HDGH – 15 active research projects are currently underway with 13 funded

• SCC – submitted a Mobilize Grant with the goal of supporting SCC research department to increase partnerships and student training in all research areas.

• UWIN – Submitted 6 CIHR grants and are a major partner in one of the 5 federal research hubs, Canadian BioMedical Research Fund

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

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. Q4 saw the Masters of Science in Translational Health Sciences students showcase research projects included members from across the partnership.

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Looking Forward


Reporting Timeline


Living Better

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

Organizational Effectiveness

• Work with external consultants to launch a regional health research strategic planning process, including stakeholder consultations and a strategic planning session

• Draft the Year 4 Impact Report

Research Excellence

• Adjudicate the 2023 grant competition including an onboarding session and 2 peer review panels

• Continue to promote local health research through Research Canada

• Launch the 2023 Health Research Conference website

Knowledge Translation

• Onboard the new Knowledge Translation Research Associate

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

Community Engagement

• Transition the 2023 Cheers to Hope event website to the 2024 campaign and share a save the date

• Finalize the Year 5 social media plan and prepare for implementation

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


Discovery, ReachingNewHeights,
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– Q4 Page 15
Conference Coordinator
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