Director of Research for Pediatric Anesthesia: The Department of Pediatric Anesthesia has become internationally recognized as a leader in pediatric anesthesia research since I took up my appointment in September 2001. It has become the most productive pediatric anesthesia research program in Canada and is recognized as the leading research program in North America in total intravenous anesthesia in children. This can be attributed to the promotion of an active research community. I have had the opportunity to supervise or co-supervise the projects of more than 60 staff members, fellows, and residents as well as medical, engineering, computing, and informatics students over the last 9 years. I have also developed a number of industry partnerships to conduct clinical trials that have proven to be an excellent training resource for research fellows and staff to learn first-class data collection and documentation procedures.
Heath Informatics: I joined the Child & Family Research Institute (now BC Children’s Hospital, Research) following the completion of my Master’s degree in Health Informatics (2001) in the U.K. and my move to Canada. I was a co-applicant on a successful Research Unit application to the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research for the Centre for Health Innovation and Improvement. I have also been instrumental in designing and implementing ontologies and distributed database solutions for the Canadian Neonatal Network, Canadian Perinatal Network, and Canadian Pediatric Surgical Network. I have worked as an informatics advisor and collaborator on the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Research Consortium Safety Surveillance project, the Health Innovation Design and Evaluation (HeIDE) Research Unit, the Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Network (ICE – Informatics enhancing the clinical experience), the Canadian Neonatal Network, the Canadian Perinatal Network, the Canadian Pediatric Surgical Network, the PHAC/CIHR Influenza Research Network, the Pediatric Anesthesia Investigator Network, KidsCan (a youth advisory network) and on PIERS (Pre-eclampsia integrated estimate of risk for mothers), a CIHR-funded, international study. I am actively engaged in promoting new opportunities for training and research in Health Informatics at UBC.
Initiatives in Global Health: I am leading several initiatives to develop low-cost, robust technologies to address some of the most pressing global health challenges, such as pneumonia, malnutrition, and sepsis in children, and the complications of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. The central theme of my global health research is to prevent mortality through timely diagnosis of disease using mobile, low-cost pulse oximetry (and recently other light-based sensors) in remote, low-resource settings. For this we have developed the Phone Oximeter™, a mobile pulse oximeter platform (cell phone, tablet, laptop, netbook). This is a first of its kind in engineering innovation. We are currently examining the use of the Phone Oximeter™ in various focus areas: Pneumonia and sepsis in children (Project led by C. Larson and funded by Canadian International Development Agency [now Global Affairs Canada]); and complications of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy (led by myself and Dr. P. von Dadelszen). For the pre-eclampsia project we were one of the 16 international projects (selected from over 600) funded by Grand Challenges Canada, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and the World Bank (awardees in both 2011 and 2014). In addition, we were the recipients of $26 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Foundation for large scale clinical trials in pre-eclampsia. For these projects we are conducting clinical trials in low and middle income countries such as India, Mozambique, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In 2015, with G Dumont, A Macnab and B Shadgan of UBC, I was awarded a Grand Challenges Exploration grant to develop a non-invasive, portable, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) device to assess tissue oxygen saturation in children with possible malnutrition and pneumonia. In 2015 I also took on the role of interim Director of the Center for International Child Health at British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital.
Knowledge Translation and Industry Partnerships: I have established highly productive partnerships with leaders in the medical device industry, such as Draeger Medical, Medtronic, Cleveland Medical, Fresenius Kabi, Masimo, and GE Healthcare. Together with Guy Dumont I founded a spin-off company, LGT Medical in partnership with UBC UILO to facilitate the commercialization of our Phone Oximeter™. This social entrepreneurship venture was recently identified as one of the 10 most important technical innovations in global health. LGT Medical has secured $2 million in funding from Grand Challenges Canada which has been matched by private investors.