Research Chair will respond to growing prevalence of respiratory illness

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World-renowned respirologist Roger Goldstein is a firm believer that medical innovation can only be achieved through research. “Without research, it is impossible to move forward with confidence knowing that the health-care intervention used in practice is actually effective,” he says.

As the new National Sanitarium Association Chair in Respiratory Rehabilitation Research – a fully endowed academic position affiliated with the University of Toronto – Dr. Goldstein plans to apply his decades of experience as a physician and researcher to lead groundbreaking clinical research that will respond to the community’s evolving health needs and reinforce West Park’s reputation as a leader in respiratory medicine.

Dr. Goldstein was selected as Chair after a rigorous international search conducted jointly by West Park and the University of Toronto. The position will enable the director of West Park’s respiratory program to expand his research program and play a more active role in teaching activities.

It is anticipated that Dr. Goldstein will lead research into several areas, including respiratory rehabilitation and compliance, mechanical ventilation, oxygen therapy and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). A $1 million gift from the National Sanitarium Association (NSA) to West Park’s Raising the Bar Campaign in 2002 was matched by West Park Healthcare Centre Foundation to establish the $2 million Chair.

“Research will identify treatment opportunities that will become vitally important to controlling the increasing human and financial costs of respiratory disease,” says Dr. Goldstein.

A report released in 2001 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information entitled, Respiratory Disease in Canada, reveals that the country is facing a new wave of respiratory illness such as lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, asthma and COPD. According to the report, about three million Canadians live with some form of respiratory illness, the third most common diagnosis (about 12 per cent) of all hospital admissions nationwide in 1998. The report also estimates that respiratory diseases account for more than $12 billion in health care expenditures per year in Canada (latest figures, 1993).

Chronic lung disease most often affects adults over the age of 55. Dr. Goldstein concurs with several reports that suggest that, as the population ages over the next 10 to 20 years, the prevalence of chronic lung disease – especially among women – will increase dramatically.

“We’re seeing a rise in the prevalence of respiratory diseases in Canada attributable to several factors, including air quality, allergies and infection, and most importantly attributable to the long-term effects of smoking,” says Dr. Goldstein, a Professor of Medicine and Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Canadian COPD Alliance. “Research will play a significant role in responding to the challenge of respiratory illness by helping professional caregivers develop a better understanding of respiratory conditions.”

After his recruitment to West Park in 1979, Dr. Goldstein, together with his colleague Dr. Monica Avendano and members of the respiratory care team, played a lead role in the creation of the centre’s internationally recognized academic respirology program, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto. He was also instrumental in developing innovative in-patient, out-patient and day hospital services for those with diseases such as COPD and those dependent on mechanical assistance to breathe.

For more than 20 years, groundbreaking respiratory research at West Park has been published in various journals and publications throughout the world. Dr. Goldstein continues to develop national and international networks to raise the profile and broaden the understanding of chronic respiratory diseases.

“West Park is recognized in the international respiratory community as a world leader in research, innovation, patient care and education,” said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, upon the announcement of the NSA’s donation at the official launch of the Raising the Bar Campaign in February 2002.

“The National Sanitarium Association Chair in Respiratory Rehabilitation Research will further enhance the stature and scope of respiratory rehabilitation at West Park and ensure its continued leadership in this field for years to come.”

The NSA, West Park’s founding body, has supported the development of the centre’s respiratory programs throughout West Park’s 99-year history. From its days as a tuberculosis sanitarium in the early 1900s, to the broad range of rehabilitation, complex continuing and long-term care services it offers today, West Park has benefitted from the NSA’s generosity and dedication to helping the centre become a leader in respiratory medicine.

For more information on the National Sanitarium Association Chair in Respiratory Rehabilitation Research, please visit www.westpark.org.