New health research centre opens at Lois Hole Hospital for Women

Newly opened research centre provides a place where clinicians, researchers and patients can work together to improve women's health.

A new research centre that opened yesterday at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women will help health researchers and clinicians work more closely together to improve outcomes for patients.

Research teams at the Lois Hole Hospital Women's Research Centre will study health issues affecting women of all ages and stages of life, including high-risk pregnancy and reproductive health, mental health, urogynecology, mature women's health, and ovarian and gynecologic cancer.

The space allows clinicians and patients to participate in research without affecting day-to-day clinical requirements at the hospital.

"There are few women's hospitals in Canada so strongly conducive to the integration of research in clinical care," said Sandy Davidge, executive director of the Women and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI), professor of obstetrics and gynecology and physiology at the U of A, and Canada Research Chair in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health. "Women are often underrepresented in research. This centre will contribute, in a significant way, to the correction of this imbalance."

Community support through donor dollars was instrumental in the creation of the space, said Andrew Otway, president and CEO of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

"To be a leading women's hospital, our donors understand that outstanding clinical care is shaped by ongoing research," Otway said. "Having embedded research in the Lois Hole Hospital for Women will mean improved clinical outcomes for the women this hospital serves."

Located adjacent to the specialized clinics at the hospital, the research space includes interview rooms, study areas equipped with ultrasound and other equipment, and telehealth and conference rooms.

"This clinical research space is going to help new collaborations come together by acting as a catalyst and bringing researchers and clinicians from different disciplines together," said Sue Ross, Cavarzan Chair in Mature Women's Health Research at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. "We can be a driving force in women's health research, and this is going to help us do it."

"The integration of clinical care research and education helps ensure our staff and physicians at our site are able to provide the best possible patient outcomes," noted Janie Clink, executive director of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. "Thanks to the support of our educational and philanthropic partners, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women will remain at the forefront of research which will help advance women's health and improve outcomes for women across Alberta."

The new research centre was made possible with a $1-million donation from supporters of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women through the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. The U of A's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry matched the donation with an additional $1 million, and further support was provided by Alberta Health Services and WCHRI.

U of A researchers describe how the dedicated space at the Lois Hole Hospital Women's Research Centre will foster collaboration with clinicians and ultimately lead to improved care for patients.

-with files from Ross Neitz