CNTRP International Summit promotes FoMD transplant expertise, forging collaboration

Recap: International summit brought transplant leaders to Edmonton in August 2016

Shelby Soke - 15 September 2016

The Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP) is a national research network designed to increase organ and tissue donation in Canada and enhance the survival and quality of life of Canadians who receive transplants.

Established in 2013, the CNTRP develops new knowledge and health care practices to increase the availability of transplants for Canadians in need and improve long-term outcomes for patients receiving transplants.

The CNTRP connects more than 300 scientists, students, collaborators, patient partners and knowledge-users at 30 sites across Canada to carry out research and develop resources to increase access to transplantation and improve survival and quality of life of transplant patients.

Transplants are lifesaving treatments that impact patients at every age and stage of life. Whether the patient is an infant in need of a new heart, a teenager battling cystic fibrosis who needs new lungs or an adult with kidney failure, an organ transplant is often the best chance at a healthy life.

Aside from transforming the life of the recipient, transplants also have a huge impact on donors, their loved ones and the health care system. The transplant is often only the beginning of lifelong medical care, which can include anti-rejection medications and ongoing complications. Since transplants are just as complex as they are lifesaving, innovation and collaboration between experts is essential to continually improve the practice.

Last month, world-leading collaboration and innovation was happening right here in Edmonton.
From August 13 to 14 some of the world's leading basic science researchers attended the CNTRP International Summit: Emerging areas of biomedical research in transplantation.

"The goal was to bring prominent investigators from sites outside of Canada together with U of A and CNTRP investigators to share expertise on cutting-edge research topics in transplantation, and to brainstorm potential areas of new international collaborations," says Lori West, professor of pediatrics, surgery and immunology and Director, Alberta Transplant Institute (ATI) and CNTRP.

For the ATI, which houses the CNTRP, the conference was an important opportunity to demonstrate local Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's expertise and the University of Alberta's commitment to research and innovation--to lead the way in setting crucial priorities for collaborative research going forward. The conference allowed the CNTRP to explore and plan international research collaborations, to stimulate cutting-edge and emerging biomedical and translational research focused on rejection, tissue injury, allograft function and patient survival.

Conference attendees came from all over the world to hear and discuss presentations given by Canadian experts including the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's Darren Freed, an associate professor in the Department of Surgery, as well as international leaders from Australia and the United States.

"The chance to meet face to face at this conference and engage in intense in-depth scientific discussion and planning will have great impact in identifying specific opportunities for new international research collaborations going forward, led by Canadian investigators," says West.

Lori West's contributions to transplant recognized

At the helm of both the ATI and CNTRP is West, who is known around the world as a transplant expert. West's hard work has recently been recognized by her peers and one of the funding organizations that supports her amazing work.

In August, West was presented with the 2016 Woman Leader in Transplant Award at the 26th International Congress of The Transplantation Society in Hong Kong. This award provides recognition to a woman who has helped further the field of transplantation through research, policies, leadership, initiatives or other regarded contributions.

More recently, West received $80,000 from the Heart and Stroke Foundation via the Canadian Pacific's Clear Rounds for Heart initiative to support her lifesaving research. The event took place during the Canadian Pacific International at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Canadian Pacific donates $10,000 for each clear round jumped during the competition, including clear jumping rounds that include time faults.

In her current Heart and Stroke Foundation-supported work, West is exploring how her findings about cardiac transplantation for babies can improve the success of heart transplants in adult patients.

Photo credit: CNTRP

Meet the Alberta Transplant Institute

The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's ATI is a multidisciplinary and virtual institute where researchers, scholars, physicians and patient-partners join forces with the aim to improve transplantation procedures and organ donations in Alberta.

The institute's main goals are to improve outcomes for patients, preventing deaths by making transplantation more accessible, and preparing the next generation of transplant specialist to continue their hard work and front line research for results that impact Albertans, as well as the global community. Did you know that you can make a donation to support the Alberta Transplant Institution? Learn more about how you can support the institute here.