Two Trinity Western University Faculty Receive Canada Research Chair Awards

Langley, BC, November 29, 2018: Trinity Western University is pleased to announce faculty members Drs. Anita Coté and Richard Sawatzky have each been awarded Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) awards in recognition of exceptional emerging research in their respective fields. Cardiovascular physiologist Dr. Coté is the Canada Research Chair in Cardiovascular Adaptation to Exercise, and Dr. Sawatzky, a Professor in the School of Nursing, is the Canada Research Chair in Person-Centred Outcomes. Tier 2 Canada Research Chair awards include research funding of $100,000 per year for five years.

“The Canada Research Chairs Program is the centerpiece of a national strategy to make Canada a world leader in research and innovation. Chairholders represent the country's top talent: scholars whose research makes an impact by addressing some of the most pressing needs facing Canadians today.  Both of TWU's Canada Research Chairholders announced today are making significant and novel contributions to healthcare,” says Dr. Eve Stringham, Vice Provost, Research and Graduate Studies at TWU. 

For Dr. Sawatzky, this award is a renewal of his previously awarded Canada Research Chair in Patient-Reported Outcomes from 2013. His earlier research focused on evaluating and studying the use of tools for measuring patient-reported outcomes in healthcare. In phase two of this research he will develop and evaluate innovative approaches to measuring person-centred outcomes as integral to healthcare in diverse populations. The research specifically seeks to draw attention to the diverse perspectives and experiences of older adults who have life-limiting illnesses and their family caregivers.

“An important goal of this research program is to improve the ability of healthcare in Canada to focus on what truly matters to older adults who have life-limiting illnesses and their family caregivers,” says Dr. Sawatzky.

Dr. Sawatzky is grateful for additional funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and support from donors to assist in carrying out cutting-edge scientific research on person-centred health information systems.

Dr. Sawatzky received a $169,795 CFI grant to customize and refine computerized adaptive testing (CAT) technology to efficiently assess and monitor health outcomes from the perspectives of older adults and their family caregivers. An additional $430,000 in matching funds for Dr. Sawatzky’s research was generously provided by Langley resident and TWU partner Mrs. Ann Blaauw ($355,000) and the Arthur J. E. Child Foundation ($75,000) to help fund to the creation of this Person-Centred e-Health Information System. The goal of this technology is to support person-centred healthcare by focusing on the abilities, concerns and needs that matter most to individual people.

Dr. Sawatzky’s research is critical today midst Canada’s aging population. According to Statistics Canada, the number of adults over 65 years old exceeds the number of children in Canada for the first time in history. Canada, like many other countries, has a growing and aging population. Most older adults have one or more chronic, life-limiting conditions, which often require complex care.

Dr. Sawatzky has partnered with health information technology leader Cambian, to customize existing computer-based health information tools to conduct his research and impact the way individuals are engaged in their own health care. Cambian is providing a $120,000 in-kind contribution to customize the e-Health Information System for Dr. Sawatzky. This research incorporates computerized adaptive testing (CAT) technology to efficiently assess an individual's health status and improve healthcare decision making. The development and use of this technology offers important advancements in Dr. Sawatzky’s research, and positions Canada as a leader in person-centred outcomes measurement in healthcare.

The starting point for Dr. Coté’s research is acknowledging Cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the leading cause of death in Canadian women. However, many women are unaware of the risk. “Much of the research on CVD has focused on males. However, we now know that heart disease in women develops differently. Females exhibit symptoms differently than men and we need research with a specific focus on the female heart to close that gap in information,” says Dr. Coté.

Protected for years by hormones such as estrogen, women are not tuned in to the CVD risk factors they may have as they approach middle age. Since adolescence marks a sharp decline in girls’ physical activity levels, Dr. Coté believes the CVD risk many women face in later years can be traced back to exercise habits early in life. Dr. Coté is studying how, beginning in childhood, the heart adapts to exercise, and how this differs between the sexes.

In order to understand how exercise elicits changes to the heart and blood vessels during normal growth and development, Dr. Coté’s research uses advanced imaging tools and genetic analyses. Through longterm tracking of exercise patterns relative to structural and functional changes in the heart and blood vessels, Dr. Coté hopes to address some important gaps we have in understanding the progression of CVD risk in women while also addressing CVD prevention and treatment strategies, to improve health outcomes for all Canadian women.

Both research chair appointments demonstrate TWU carrying out its Strategic Research Plan: Our Vision for 2020 to be an international centre of scholarly excellence, where discovery research, applied research, integration research, and research creation generates innovative knowledge in service of the world’s present and emerging needs. Health and Human Flourishing is one of the key focus areas for research at TWU. The projects by Drs. Coté and Sawatzky both meet the goals of health researching that enhances personal and population health and improves health care services to better address the needs of patients, families, and society.

Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is a private Christian post-secondary institution in Langley, British Columbia. It is a fully accredited university offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media and culture.

For more information:
Linda Munro
T: 778-839-9649​