Title Image

Respiratory Network Newsletter #1, April 2022

Respiratory Network Newsletter #1, April 2022

Building a respiratory health network for BC

LAH has been building a province-wide respiratory health network. This network will provide an enabling ecosystem to enhance research and knowledge translation through collaboration. Through it, we aim to strengthen the prevention, treatment, and care of respiratory health conditions through cross-sector and inter-disciplinary investigative collaborations that are grounded in meaningful engagement of patients, communities at risk, and knowledge users. The network will facilitate communication, host events, develop resources, and support training and career development.

With support from LAH, the network development is now supported by a dedicated staff person. The network coordinator (Karen Rideout) will work with the LAH team and people from across BC to build this new space to support collaboration, research, and translation.


Remembering Dr. Mark FitzGerald

A message from Dr. Chris Carlsten

As we enter an exciting new era with this network poised to increase synergies for research productivity and impact, we recognize the life and death of Dr. Mark FitzGerald. Mark passed peacefully on January 18, 2022.

Dr. FitzGerald earned his diploma in Medicine in 1978 at the University College, Dublin. He blessed Canada (Hamilton and then Vancouver) from 1984 onwards, but for a brief mid-90s return to his native Ireland. A full professor at UBC since 2002, he earned renown for the breadth of his academic achievements, reflected not only in his hundreds of publications but moreover for their span from an early focus on TB to a later emphasis on asthma, health economics, and respiratory outcomes. Having published in every major medical journal, Dr. FitzGerald also turned to health literacy and ‘humanomics’ in a plea to make such volumes of research more accessible and impactful to the patients who adored him and to so many others who benefited indirectly from his work. Over the years, he was repeatedly awarded by major societies for his contributions and he led dozens of committees and initiatives that collectively had major impact on the respiratory medicine community locally, nationally, and internationally.

Mark’s history is most relevant to the network’s vision. He led the UBC and VGH Divisions of Respiratory Medicine – both for more than 10 years – which benefited from him immeasurably by his epitomizing a rare and consummate constellation of excellence in patient care, education, research, and service. The network is a natural reflection of the next phase of our coming together as a community to break silos and keep prevention and care foremost in our sights, as we remember our common goals and how much stronger we are together when sharing resources, expertise, and commitment to improving respiratory health for all.

Our hearts go out to all those saddened by the passing of such a monumental colleague and friend, and we offer a warm communal embrace as we slowly come to reconcile this profound loss. We stand resolved to use the network as one way to honour Mark positively as we move forward, together.

A memoriam of Dr. FitzGerald written by several of his collaborators and colleagues was published in the Canadian Journal of Respiratory, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine (https://doi.org/10.1080/24745332.2022.2035854).


Finding research synergies in respiratory disease prevention and care

The first network event was hosted by Legacy for Airway Health in January. We brought together 23 researchers from across BC with an interest in respiratory health. This was an opportunity learn about the breadth of research happening across the province, challenges to translating evidence into practice or policy, and start to build new connections. You can read more about the event from LAH News or download the event summary here. We started to build an asset map of respiratory research/ers. Stay tuned for an updated version in the summer.


Re-imagining COPD and asthma prevention and care

Legacy for Airway Health is hosting a four-part summit series to improve COPD and asthma prevention and care in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. This interactive series brings together patients, researchers, clinicians, and healthcare leaders to collaboratively describe a vision for better COPD/asthma care, identify priority problems and solutions, and create an evidence-based action plan to achieve the desired transformations. With its focus on collaboration, evidence, and implementation, this summit series is an example of how a network approach can support innovation and knowledge translation. Day 1 of the series (A look inside the data) was held March 15. There is still time to register for upcoming sessions:

  1. Clarifying the vision – April 4, 9am-12pm (This coming Monday!)
  2. Forward thinking research and solutions – April 29, 9am-12pm
  3. Putting the pieces together – May 30, 9-11am

Click here or email aneisha.collinsfairclough@vch.ca.


Wildfire Smoke Communication Workshops

Legacy for Airway Health (LAH) hosted a two-part workshop in February to focus on effective wildfire smoke communications for the public. We shared the results of an LAH survey about how wildfire smoke communications are received, understood, and implemented by people in communities across BC. Nearly 70 stakeholders from 30 organizations or communities collectively identified challenges, priorities, and solutions to improve how wildfire smoke messages are created and delivered. Learn more about this event and ongoing work here.

We will follow up with more news and updates in early June.