A PROUD LEGACY OF DISCOVERY AND TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH IN MANITOBA
Pediatric research has a long and well-respected history in Manitoba, dating back to at least 1925. Manitoba’s pediatric researchers have received international acclaim and made important contributions to many areas of research including respirology, allergy and clinical immunology, genetics, neonatology, and Rh disease among many others.
A dependable source of funding for pediatric research did not exist in Manitoba until 1959 when the Children’s Hospital Research Fund was created. That fund led to the establishment of the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba in 1971. Since then, the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba has continued to successfully raise and distribute millions of dollars each year for the advancement of knowledge and care in child health research.
State-of-the-art facilities dedicated to pediatric research became a reality in Manitoba through a combined initiative between The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, the Health Sciences Centre Foundation, and the University of Manitoba. Over $26 million was raised towards the construction of the John Buhler Research Centre on the University of Manitoba Bannatyne Campus. In 1999, the 5th floor of the John Buhler Research Centre was completed and researchers from a variety of pediatric disciplines have been hard at work there, and at a wide variety of collaborating institutions ever since.
In 2001, the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba officially created the Manitoba Institute of Child Health. As the research division of the Foundation, the Institute took over the administration of all Foundation research support programs and oversaw the development and strategic expansion of operations of the 5th floor of the John Buhler Research Centre facility.
This new institute structure was a major step forward in the overall growth and development of pediatric research in Manitoba. It was associated with an unparalleled increase in the amount of child health research efforts and record local levels of external funding for pediatric research, bringing together researchers from diverse child health research specialties as Manitoba Institute of Child Health members.
In support of its mission to provide support for high quality, innovative research development, the Manitoba Institute of Child Health developed a variety of peer reviewed research and trainee support funding mechanisms. These range from small grants for seed funding of new initiatives, travel awards for presentation of findings in scientific meetings, equipment and major operating grants, to a variety of research training awards in collaboration with partner agencies such as the Manitoba Health Research Council.
In 2003, the Manitoba Institute of Child Health added to its research profile through the creation of research themes in areas with established, internationally recognized strengths. Additional dedicated core infrastructure funding is provided to themes based upon a business plan that identifies extensive, multidisciplinary collaboration, a strong ongoing track record of high quality publications, national and international external research operating and salary support grants, and innovative trainee programs as deliverables for this supplementary funding. The theme approach includes basic scientists, clinician-scientists, and clinicians, each from multiple disciplines.
The first theme established at the Institute was the Biology of Breathing, formed to build on existing research strengths and expertise by bringing together an influential group of investigators focused specifically on pediatric respiratory challenges. Emerging themes currently under development include diabetes and nutrition, and neurosciences.
Starting in 2004, the Manitoba Institute of Child Health began what would become an annual tradition by hosting Child Health Research Day, a celebration of pediatric research in Manitoba. This event invites members of the health research community, academic audiences, and the general public to learn more about pediatric research initiatives being conducted in the province, and with national and international collaborating partners.
With continued growth and evolution of the Institute came an important change in 2007 as the Manitoba Institute of Child Health was officially incorporated as a separate entity, wholly owned by the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. The Institute established its own governing Board of Directors with daily operations managed by an administrative team.
Nearly ten years after pediatric researchers had first called the 5th floor facilities home, research successes and increased child health needs had led to substantial pressure on the Institute’s facilities. In 2008 construction and redevelopment plans began for the 5th and 6th floors of the John Buhler Research Centre.
MOVING FORWARD INTO A BRIGHT FUTURE
The 6th floor has allowed the Manitoba Institute of Child Health to develop new discovery and translational research studies, provide enhanced direct research support for individual and collaborative research initiatives, strengthen recruitment of outstanding trainees and faculty from around the world, and increase multi-disciplinary learning opportunities for both current and new child health researchers. It the largest pediatric research facility in the Prairie Provinces.
The Manitoba Institute of Child Health’s expanded infrastructure and facilities, continued growth of support services, and ongoing recruitment of faculty members with expertise in child health research, continues to contribute to the future of pediatric research in Manitoba, making it bright with possibilities, innovation, and collaboration.