FRSQ and its partners invest over $1.2 million in Quebec consortium for research on C. difficile

April 24, 2006

Montreal, April 24, 2006 - The Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) and its partners are investing $1,230,000 (plus a service contribution valued at $260,000) to set up a Quebec consortium for research on C. difficile in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the factors related to recent outbreaks in Quebec and find solutions to this major problem.

"The objective of the Consortium is to increase our knowledge of the epidemiology and virulence factors for C. difficile infection in Quebec," Dr. Vivian Loo of the McGill University Health Centre, principal investigator for the project, explained. "The scientific information we obtain will help improve the way we control C. difficile once we achieve a better understanding of the biology of this condition, make the best possible use of tools that are already available, and develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches." The new knowledge developed in the framework of this project will make it possible, among other things, to improve the treatment of patients by selecting antibiotics that target the strains of the bacterium found in hospitals.

"The importance of epidemiological factors, clinical factors, microbial genetic factors, and how they interact demands a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research approach," noted Dr. Alain Beaudet, President and CEO of the FRSQ. "It was absolutely crucial to set up this research consortium, which is being made possible by excellent collaboration among all our partners, to try to answer the many questions that this serious public health problem continues to raise."

The FRSQ's partners in this project are the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Institute of Infection and Immunity of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Health Canada, Génome Québec, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, and four university teaching hospitals: the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ), and the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS).

The research will be conducted at the four university teaching hospitals that are partners in the project, as well as at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, the Jewish General-Sir Mortimer B. Davis Hospital, McGill University, the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, and the Ottawa Hospital. Findings are expected to be released in two years.

C. difficile is the major cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients. Since 2003, many health-care institutions in Quebec have seen a major increase in the incidence and severity of diarrhea associated with C. difficile, as well as serious complications and mortality associated with the condition.

The Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ), which reports to the Minister for Economic Development, Innovation and Exportation, supports health research with a view to the well-being of Quebecers. Its mandate covers the promotion and funding of health studies, knowledge dissemination, researcher training, the establishment of partnerships for developing Québec's network of research and innovation, and the international outreach of that research. The FRSQ manages an annual budget of upwards of $80 million.

The principal role of the Ministry is to ensure that the Quebec health-care system and network run smoothly. The Ministry also makes sure that guidelines for health and wellness policy are relevant and evaluates the results obtained in relation to the objectives set. Among other things, the MSSS is responsible for supporting the development of research in its designated fields, including the advancement of knowledge in the domain of nosocomial infections.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to close to 10,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

One of CIHR's 13 Institutes, the Institute of Infection and Immunity seeks to establish national leadership, priorities and programs that promote innovative research to reduce the global burden of infection and immune-based disease and improve quality of life.

The Institut national de santé publique du Québec is a public health expertise and reference centre founded in 1998 to advance knowledge and propose strategies for improving the health and well-being of Quebecers. The Institute's activities are structured around six functions: information, training, research, international cooperation, specialized advice and assistance, specialized laboratories.

Health Canada is the Federal Department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstances. Health Canada believes that prevention and health promotion can hold health care costs down and improve quality of life in the long term. To this end, the Department is committed to meeting the challenges of tomorrow by supporting research and fostering partnerships with researchers across the country and the world. We also work collaboratively with the provinces and territories to test ways in which the Canadian health care system can be improved and ensure its sustainability for the future.

Génome Québec, which has a mission to rally the academic and industrial sectors around genomics research, is a non-profit organization that invests and manages financial resources totaling more than $300 million coming from the public and private sectors. It currently manages projects in six major sectors: health, bioinformatics, ethics, environment, forestry and agriculture. Creating over 700 jobs since its inception in 2000, it helped to set up the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre in Montreal, a world-class research centre that furthers Quebec's position on the world scene.

The Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) is a university hospital centre that provides specialized and ultraspecialized services to a regional and supraregional clientele. CHUM also offers general and specialized hospital services for its immediate service area. These services, which contribute to teaching and research and to the evaluation of health-care technologies and intervention methods, are provided on an integrated network basis. CHUM also contributes to the ongoing promotion of health through its front-line services. CHUM was formed with the merger of three Montreal hospitals: Hôtel-Dieu, Notre-Dame and Saint-Luc. CHUM's 10,000 employees, 900 doctors, 330 researchers, 5,000 students and trainees and 800 volunteers serve more than half a million patients every year.

The MUHC is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University--the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

The Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ) offers general, specialized, and ultra-specialized care for patients from the Greater Quebec City area and eastern Quebec. The institution aspires to the highest standards of quality and excellence in health care and public health services. The CHUQ, in partnership with Laval University, is a leader in promoting the development of innovative approaches designed to improve public health. It is also a leader in teaching, research, and new technology assessment. The CHUQ includes three hospitals: Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Hôpital Saint-François d'Assise, and the CHUL, as well as five other institutions: the Maison Paul-Triquet, the Centre de l'ouïe et de la parole, the Centre de traitement dans la communauté, the Centre de pédopsychiatrie, and the Foyer des vétérans. All told, more than 8,000 staff members, 1,000 physicians, and 262 researchers work at the CHUQ.

On the cutting edge of innovation in care, teaching, research and the evaluation of health care technology and intervention methods, the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS), in partnership with institutions from various networks, contributes in a dynamic and significant way to improving the health of patients and the general public. The CHUS also participates in the socio-economic development of the regions it serves.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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