WHRI’s 11th Anniversary Address

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Happy 11th anniversary to the Women’s Health Research Institute! Having recently passed my first year mark as the institute’s Executive Director, it is an excellent opportunity to review our achievements over the past year. The Mission of the WHRI, “Creating new knowledge and evidence-based solutions that inform and transform the health and health care of women and their families” is woven into the fabric of what we do, from the front line research staff, students, and volunteers, to the nearly 200 members that belong to the WHRI family, to the WHRI’s executive team. Never before have I felt as proud to belong to a community of individuals sharing the same vision of better health for women, and living up to that vision through the work that they do.  Our 5-year Strategic Plan is organized around three primary goals, and those goals have guided several advancements and new initiatives over the past year.

Here is a brief summary of some of the highlights:

Goal #1: Enhanced Collaboration: To support an environment that promotes success for women’s health research in BC.

Over the past year, we have engaged with researchers across all health authorities and grew our network of women’s health research members by 23%. Other evidence of collaboration stems from holding a very successful 2nd annual WHRI Symposium in April, and now planning to bring mini symposia to SFU, University of Victoria/Island Health Authority, and UBC-O. We have implemented patient registries in now four programs at BC Women’s Hospital, and are working with the BC Children’s Research Institute to implement a campus-wide “permission to contact” effort. We have developed a multi-disciplinary and cross-pillar Scientific Advisory Board which guided the revision of our themes to four. We have also grown our Executive Team by bringing neuroscientist, Dr.Liisa Galea on site at the WHRI for one day per week.

Goal #2: To increase capacity for women’s health research in BC.

Our members have told us that grant support is a significant need. To respond, we have collaborated with the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute to hire a part-time Research Development Facilitator (Amber Hui). We have also strengthened our partnership with the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation, and are grateful for their support in funding three new Catalyst Grants that were awarded recently. Karen Gelb, a contractor to the WHRI, has carried out several dozen interviews in an effort towards developing a provincial women’s health research agenda, which we plan to unveil at the 3rd annual Symposium on May 9, 2018 (mark your calendars!). We have expanded capacity by bringing on an SFU Communications Co-Op student, and a UBC Statistics Co-Op student, both contributing their energy and creativity throughout the WHRI.

Goal #3: To translate results from women’s health research into improvements in women’s health care.

We have held two Knowledge Translation workshops over the past year: a Scientist Knowledge Translation Training Workshop” and an “Implementation Science Workshop” in partnership with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. We have held two extremely successful public events designed to disseminate evidence based women’s health information to the public, and we have developed a comprehensive Communications plan to ensure our members receive the information they need in an effective and timely manner.

I feel privileged to work with a team of exceptionally competent, devoted, bright, and creative staff at the WHRI, and I am proud of the research lead by our members which helps women prevent disease, manage and treat maladies, and live healthier, more fulfilling and rewarding lives.

-Lori  A. Brotto, PhD, R Psych, Executive Director