A male and two females in the laboratory discussing a lab instrument

Sinai Health is stepping boldly into a future that unites discovery and clinical research to accelerate health innovation and enhance patient outcomes.

This transformative initiative is led by Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras, inaugural Vice President of Research at Sinai Health and Director of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI). Dr. Gingras envisions a dynamic collaboration across disciplines to foster innovation in Sinai Health’s priority areas through strategic recruitment and expanded opportunities for trainees.

“We have an incredible community of discovery and clinical researchers embedded within a world-class hospital,” said Dr. Gingras, a world leader in the field of proteomics, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Functional Proteomics and the Lou Siminovitch Mount Sinai 100 Chair.

“Historically, these two arms have been separate as LTRI’s initial mandate was to focus on discovery research, while clinical research took place within individual clinical departments. We now have an opportunity to weave them together, creating a powerful research ecosystem that will profoundly enhance our ability to drive innovation in our areas of care.”

Joining Dr. Gingras in this mission are Deputy Director of Clinical Research, Dr. Susanna Mak, and Deputy Director of Discovery Research, Dr. Daniel Schramek. Their combined expertise will drive collaboration across Sinai Health’s portfolio, forging ties between discovery research and patient-oriented research across Sinai Health’s two hospitals, Mount Sinai Hospital and Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital.

Bridging Discovery and Clinical Research

Founded in 1985 as the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, the LTRI has served as Sinai Health’s engine for scientific discovery, making ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of biology. It has also pioneered advanced platforms for analyzing biological samples, providing new insights into the molecular basis of health and disease.

“We’ve built state-of-the-art technology platforms that reveal the complex interactions of genes, proteins, and other molecules,” said Dr. Gingras. “This creates unique opportunities for researchers to explore the biological foundations of health and disease, ultimately improving health outcomes.”

Dr. Mak, a Senior Clinician-Scientist at the LTRI and Director of the Anna Prosserman Heart Function Clinic, the Harold & Esther Mecklinger, and the Posluns Family Cardiac Catheterization Research Laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital, will spearhead raising awareness of these technology hubs among clinical researchers, while also fostering connections across Sinai Health’s clinical and discovery research programs.

“Every clinician here is proud of our clinical programs,” said Dr. Mak, a pioneering integrative heart and lung researcher who has been at Sinai Health since 2004.

“We’ve always punched above our weight in providing exemplary care and leveraging our unique patient populations to develop patient-centered research programs.”

“We now have an exciting opportunity to bridge discovery, translational, and clinical research and strengthen our hospital’s legacy of life-changing innovation.”

She will also leverage her deep knowledge as former, and first female, Chair of the Department of Medicine Division and Cardiology Director at the University of Toronto to build strategic partnerships with the university and interdisciplinary teams.

Recruiting the Brightest Minds

Changes are also coming to the LTRI. Under Dr. Gingras’ leadership, LTRI will recruit ten new investigators in the next decade, representing a significant expansion of its talent pool. Dr. Schramek, a Senior Investigator at the LTRI and a renowned cancer researcher, will play a pivotal role in recruitment, ensuring a strategic and inclusive selection process that attracts exceptional researchers from around the world.

“Recruitment at this level is unprecedented for the LTRI and an incredible opportunity to shape the direction of our research,” said Dr. Schramek, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Functional Cancer Genomics and the Tony Pawson Sinai 100 Chair.

“We want to cast a wide net to attract the brightest minds from all over the world.”

“At the same time, we need to be strategic in terms of expertise we want to bring in to continue to build on our areas of strength and maximise impact for patients, while upholding the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion.”

As an international researcher who has trained in several countries, Dr. Schramek is keenly aware of the challenges new investigators face in adapting to a new research ecosystem. He will oversee the establishment of a personalized mentorship support system that helps new hires successfully integrate, empowering them to explore bold new ideas while navigating the challenges of starting their research programs.

Elevating Trainee Experience

Integrating discovery with clinical research will also impact trainees, enhancing opportunities for research and professional development. Since its inception in 2001, the Research Trainee Centre (RTC) at Sinai Health has been a pillar for LTRI trainees’ support, now set to expand its services across the institution, under Dr. Schramek’s leadership. The RTC excels not just in providing crucial administrative support but in creating a nurturing space dedicated to trainee professional development and well-being.

In future years, Dr. Schramek sees the RTC evolving as a dynamic centre where both discovery and clinical trainees can stretch beyond their usual boundaries to broaden their knowledge and professional networks.

“It’s vital that we afford all trainees the same opportunities to foster new ways of thinking,” Dr. Schramek explains. “For clinical research trainees, this approach deepens their understanding of disease biology, while discovery trainees can better grasp the practical implications of their work. I am thrilled to work with my clinical research counterpart, Dr. Mak, to foster these opportunities for our students and postdoctoral fellows”

Though the details of the integration are yet to be finalized in an impending strategy planning exercise with Sinai Health’s leadership, Dr. Gingras is confident that the creativity and determination required to drive this transformation are firmly in place.

“Our community is incredibly enthusiastic about the future, and I am thrilled to have Dr. Mak and Dr. Schramek by my side as we embark on this new chapter,” she said.

“I look forward to working with our leaders, researchers and generous donors, to redefine our approach, maximizing health benefits for patients today and for future generations.”