News Release

REF NO.: 21

SUBJECT: Research partnership to focus on health priorities for complex diseases in Newfoundland and Labrador

DATE: October 25, 2017

Stephen Duffy was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis when he was only 35 years old. Ten years later, he feels a new sense of hope for his quality of life thanks to personalized management of his disease.

Today the Faculty of Medicine announced a partnership with Janssen Inc. (Janssen) that will help translate research into management strategies and help more patients like Mr. Duffy.

The collaboration, Janssen and Newfoundland and Labrador Health Innovation Partnership (JANL-HIP), will focus on identifying priorities and undertaking real-world research projects in complex diseases that are highly prevalent in Newfoundland and Labrador’s population — the results of which will have a direct impact on the health of the province. Research projects will be identified by clinicians working in the field and JANL-HIP will be responsible for determining the priority projects.

 “Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine has a responsibility to help transform population health for the communities we serve,” said Dr. Margaret Steele, dean, Faculty of Medicine. “Partnerships like JANL-HIP provide an opportunity to conduct research that while helping a patient can improve efficiencies in our health system.”

Dr. Proton Rahman, associate dean of clinical research and a professor of medicine (rheumatology) in the Faculty of Medicine, is Mr. Duffy’s rheumatologist. Dr. Rahman is one of the researchers who will be working on an initial JANL-HIP project studying psoriatic disease, which will include psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

“We want to know if a disease management strategy is working for a patient,” said Dr. Rahman. “Are we reducing the need for chronic pain medication and is the overall strategy improving a patient’s mental health? If the strategy improves someone’s quality of life, it will translate into better health-care utilization because the patient will have less hospital visits and physician appointments.”

Pain management and finding a strategy that works is something Mr. Duffy understands all too well. When he was first referred to and diagnosed by Dr. Rahman, some strategies to manage his disease worked, but with only temporary results. During a flare-up, getting showered, dressed and even eating proved to be difficult. But a treatment he started 15 months ago is working. It’s given him back his mobility and he appreciates being involved in the research and decision-making.

“Since being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis I have become proactive in my own research and am amazed at how many people suffer from different forms of inflammatory arthritis and other autoimmune diseases in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Mr. Duffy said. “I believe Memorial University is an ideal epicentre for research into these very debilitating conditions.”

Janssen has been an innovator in the Canadian health-care industry for more than 50 years. JANL-HIP is a collaboration that includes representation from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s ministry of Health and Community Services, ministry of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, Eastern Health and the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information.

Funding for the partnership is through Janssen and in-kind support from the Translational and Personalized Medicine Initiative at Memorial University.

Dr. Rahman believes JANL-HIP will provide new research opportunities for communities throughout the province.

“Conducting research right here in Newfoundland and Labrador is so important. It allows us to put our patients and their priorities first and help translate research discoveries into personalized management.”

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