Is TBRRI Making Thunder Bay Smarter?

Premier Kathleen Wynne (right) with Dr. Laura Curiel (centre), Minister Michael Gravelle (left), and Minister Bill Mauro (right, partially obscured) touring the TBRRI’s wet lab. This past July, the province invested a further $4 million into our growing research program.
Premier Kathleen Wynne (right) with Dr. Laura Curiel (centre), Minister Michael Gravelle (left), and Minister Bill Mauro (right, partially obscured) touring the TBRRI’s wet lab. This past July, the province invested a further $4 million into our growing research program.

Premier Kathleen Wynne (right) with Dr. Laura Curiel (centre), Minister Michael Gravelle (left), and Minister Bill Mauro (right, partially obscured) touring the TBRRI’s wet lab. This past July, the province invested a further $4 million into our growing research program.
Premier Kathleen Wynne (right) with Dr. Laura Curiel (centre), Minister Michael Gravelle (left), and Minister Bill Mauro (right, partially obscured) touring the TBRRI’s wet lab. This past July, the province invested a further $4 million into our growing research program.

THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – Imagine a place where the world’s best and brightest scientists gather to work on some of the most cutting-edge medical breakthroughs. Chances are, your mind went to some ivy-covered building in Toronto, or Boston, or Germany. But it’s happening right here in Thunder Bay too – and in fact, some of the most advanced research into medical imaging in the world is taking place at the TBRRI.

There are many other advantages to Thunder Bay as a growing research centre. It’s small enough that scientists here have better access to equipment in many cases. They also have a closer connection to clinicians to help them do research in real-life situations. Scientists here can connect with colleagues around the world via videoconference, Skype, and FaceTime, and downtown Toronto is just 90 minutes away.

The province of Ontario sees our value too, and is investing heavily in the TBRRI. Most recently, Premier Kathleen Wynne came to Thunder Bay herself this summer to announce an additional $4 million in funding towards the cyclotron and the TBRRI research program.

“The investment that we are making as a province will benefit the region, but will also benefit the science that will benefit people all over the world,” Wynne said during the announcement.

Other partners including FedNor, the City of Thunder Bay, and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation are also key to ensuring we continue to attract the best scientists and researchers. The Foundation and its predecessor the Northern Cancer Research Foundation (NCRF) have supported local research for over 20 years, understanding how it can improve local healthcare too.

“With the support of our generous donors, to date we have contributed $2.8-million to support research projects including the cyclotron as part of the Exceptional Cancer Care Campaign,” said Paul Fitzpatrick, chair of the Foundation’s ECC Campaign.

It’s this type of support of the TBRRI which makes the TBRHSC an academic health sciences centre and one of the Top 40 Research Hospitals in Canada rather than simply another regional hospital. The TBRRI is also creating opportunities for our youth. A generation ago, anyone who wanted to become a scientist had little choice but to move from the region. Today, a child can grow up here, go to post-secondary school here, and get a research position or other high-tech job.

In fact it’s already happened. In January 2014, Thunder Bay-born Dr. Naana Jumah joined the TBRRI as a clinician researcher after getting degrees from the University of Toronto, Harvard, and Oxford. Her research will focus on Aboriginal women’s health, substance abuse in pregnancy, and cervical cancer screening. She is working with Dr. Laura Curiel to conduct translational research in the treatment of uterine fibroids with MRI-guided HIFU.

You can help. Thanks to wise investments in health research by our community through the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation’s Health Sciences Discovery Fund, we are Bringing Discoveries to Life. Please, make your donation today online (healthsciencesfoundation.ca), in person, or by calling (807) 345-4673 and join us as we make our region healthier, wealthier, and smarter.Part of the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute’s mission is to enable patient-centred research that will make Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter. This article is Part 3 of a three-part series examining how the TBRRI does just that.