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A year to remember

From the desk of Sharon Gabison, Research Family Engagement Committee (RFEC) Co-chair

As the final edition of BRI Quarterly in 2017, I’d like to acknowledge the incredible work of our families, researchers, trainees and students over the last year. It’s been my absolute pleasure to be a part of the Research Family Engagement Committee (RFEC) as a co-chair, and I look forward to continuing to support the work of the Bloorview Research Institute and its family leaders as we continue to raise the bar on family engagement in research.

There has been much growth, notable achievements and awards this past year. We’ve seen a steady increase in our number of BRI family leaders since 2015, with now over 170 family leaders participating and advising on research. We’ve also increased our research requests compared with previous years. Over 90 family leader requests were filled to review grant proposals prior to submission, provide letters of support to researchers, and collaborate as active members of research teams over the past year. Family leaders are consistently embedded as advisors on research projects – some of which are long-term, multi-year projects. And finally, family leaders have shared their lived experiences at several large-scale events; stressing the importance and impact of families as partners in research. More recently, family leader Manuela Comito co-hosted the Bloorview Research Institute’s annual research symposium, which had over 260 guests in attendance!

(From L to R) Manuela Comito, family leader, Holland Bloorview; and Tom Chau, vice-president of research at Holland Bloorview co-host the 12th annual research symposium

On December 13, the RFEC hosted its first journal club to increase awareness of the different types of research and processes, and develop a deeper understanding around how to best communicate research. The journal club was rich with discussion and analysis so that family leaders would be more familiar with different peer-reviewed research publications. We look forward to expanding upon this work in 2018.

Reflecting on this past year, I see how we truly have made significant strides as partners in research – ever getting closer to our goal of developing a communications pathway for making scientific publications from Holland Bloorview more accessible to clients and families, and supporting a 'no boundaries' philosophy that encourages family integration.

2018 is full of bright potential and unlimited possibility. We look forward to sharing our journey together.

Happy holidays,
Sharon