Working Towards a Brighter Future

The leaves are changing colour, kids are back to school and everyone has a pumpkin spice latte in hand. It is that unmistakable time of year – fall has arrived. At TRF we are taking a moment to reflect on the exciting and productive spring and summer we have had on the research front and preparing for our exciting new grant opportunity.

A Spring of Innovation

This spring marked the eleventh year of our Venture Grant funding program. Venture Grants are designed to support innovative projects that have the potential to significantly impact organ transplantation. The intent of the competition is to fund new areas of research (e.g., new hypotheses, techniques, or ideas) that are in a pilot/feasibility stage. We had a robust response from our research community and ultimately funded three diverse, highly ranked projects.

Dr. Kathryn Armstrong (“Lets Talk Teenage Transplant”: Using Text Messaging to Engage with Adolescent Solid Organ Transplant Patients) received a Venture Grant for her project that examines the non-compliant adolescent transplant population. Adolescence is an inherently risky period in the transplant journey as patients experiment with not taking their medications and are resistant to attending medical appointments. This can have significant consequences, including life-threatening illness and graft loss. Dr. Armstrong’s project looks at using text messaging to establish rapport between health care providers (HCP) and adolescent patients, ultimately improving health outcomes and overall quality of life for patients.

In the face of Canada’s worsening opioid crisis, Dr. Caren Rose’s project (Examining the Impact of Overdose Deaths on Solid Organ Transplantation) has never been more pertinent. With the dramatic rise in overdose deaths, the number of organs available for transplant has increased exponentially. In fact, 25% of transplanted organs in BC are donated by people who died of an overdose.

Concerns exist that these donors are at an increased risk of having viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Further, this may translate to non-utilization of these donors. This project seeks to determine the safety of organ transplantation from overdose donors and examine how many of these deaths are being dismissed for potential organ donation.

Dr. Mercedeh Kiaii’s (The Impact of Slow Efficiency Hemodialysis on the Duration of Delayed Graft Function: A Feasibility Pilot) project looks at how best to support patients who experience the failure of a kidney to immediately function after transplantation, known as delayed graft function (DGF). This is a critical post-transplant complication and directly impacts graft loss and recipient survival.

During DGF patients must be supported by dialysis, which itself can prolong DGF by causing low blood pressure and increasing inflammation. The goal of this study is to determine whether long intermittent dialysis will reduce the duration of DGF, leading to better short- and long-term transplant outcomes.

The Power of Partnership

Since 2016, TRF has partnered with Vancouver Coastal Health Research Foundation (VCHRI) and Providence Health Care (PHC) to fund transplant related projects through the Research Challenge Grant program . This program targets allied health care staff and point-of-care professionals and addresses patient care initiatives related to transplantation.

This year we were honored to fund a PHC team at St.Paul’s Hospital led by registered dietician Christine Adair (Prevalence Study of Vitamin D status of Renal Patients Post-Transplant). This project will be assessing whether kidney transplant patients are receiving adequate Vitamin D and how best to support patients in achieving optimal bone health.

New Award

We are thrilled to share the details of our newest partnership grant with PHC and VCH for the Team Grant program. These team grants support health care professionals and researchers to conduct applied health, community based and/or patient oriented research projects to improve practice at VCH and PHC. The intent of this competition is to fund research projects that will address the Patient Identified Priorities developed by Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP). Our aim for these grants is that they will also incorporate principles of patient engagement into their design and development. We are delighted to collaborate with PHC and VCH on this exciting new initiative.