Bringing our Heart + Lung Communities Together
The Institute for Heart + Lung Health (IHLH) is rooted in and builds on the rich experience of two pre-existing enterprises, both of which were launched in 2007: the UBC Centre for Lung Health (CLH), directed by Dr. Mark FitzGerald, and the Providence Heart + Lung Institute (HLI) at St. Paul’s Hospital, directed by Dr. Bruce McManus. These endeavors operated in parallel for the first three years, having similar visions, missions, values and intent, and sharing significant technologies, personnel, and infrastructure. However, there was increasing recognition of the need to pull these worthy initiatives together.
Certainly, it is appreciated that heart and lung diseases share numerous causative, inducing and accelerating factors including tobacco smoke, indoor and outdoor pollution, infectious organisms (viruses), obesity, and hemodynamic, metabolic, immunological, and wasting disorders. In addition, heart and lung diseases are often governed by the same biological processes of injury, inflammation and repair, and often depend on similar preventive, therapeutic and rehabilitative strategies. The widely recognized sharing of risks and accelerators in heart and lung disease is furthering a focus on chronic disease management strategies, an approach that fits perfectly with the underlying philosophy of the IHLH. Given the strong inter-relationships between cardiovascular and lung disorders, it was soon determined that bringing the CLH and the HLI together would raise impact, stimulate further synergy, bring internal and external clarity, enhance visibility, and improve operational efficiency. More importantly, a joint heart and lung initiative would create a collaborative, integrated environment through which a very real opportunity exists to bring bolder, more internationally valuable innovation to lung and heart research, clinical care, and education in BC.
The vision of an integrated enterprise, ultimately embracing all heart and lung researchers and clinical innovators in BC, gained strong support from a multi-stakeholder summit held in February 2008. That summit, titled “Restoring and Sustaining Heart and Lung Health in the 21st Century – From Vision to Action to Impact” identified several key issues that researchers, clinicians, policy makers, educators, and health authorities felt were hindering heart and lung research and care delivery in BC. These included insufficient access to clinical data for research and clinical care, barriers to attracting highly qualified personnel, the need for greater emphasis on early intervention and prevention and insufficient voice in governing bodies. There was overwhelming consensus that a more unified, collaborative lung and heart initiative would have a significant positive impact on patient care and would help to resolve many of these issues.
Strong support for the IHLH has also been received from the broader community. Importantly, the IHLH is fully aligned with the priorities of the local health authorities and with the University of British Columbia. The various activities arising from the heart and lung research community like the NCE CECR Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Organ Failure is supported by the Provincial Health Services Authority and its affiliated agencies including Cardiac Services BC, BC Transplant, BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Cancer Agency, BC Children’s Hospital, as well as Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care. Numerous other examples of integrated purpose among health authorities and the IHLH can be enumerated including the commitment to prevention programs in heart and lung health, the Regional Cardiac Program, Sleep Disordered Breathing, Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Thoracic Surgery, as well as Provincial TB, Lung and Heart Transplant, Pulmonary Hypertension, and Cancer Care Programs.