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Taking it personally

Research partnership to focus on managing complex diseases in N.L.


By Virginia Middleton and Michelle Osmond

Stephen Duffy was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis when he was only 35 years old.

Since then, it’s been difficult at times for him to do simple tasks, like showering and getting dressed.

Ten years later, it’s a different story. Mr. Duffy now feels a new sense of hope for his quality of life thanks to the personalized management of his disease he’s received.

Watch the short video below to learn more about Mr. Duffy’s story.

Helping more patients

On Oct. 25, the Faculty of Medicine announced a partnership with Janssen Inc. (Janssen) that will help translate research into disease management strategies to help more patients like Mr. Duffy.

The collaboration, Janssen and Newfoundland and Labrador Health Innovation Partnership (JANL-HIP), will identify priorities and undertake real-world research projects in complex diseases that are highly prevalent in Newfoundland and Labrador’s population.

Research projects will be identified by clinicians and the JANL-HIP team will determine the priority projects.

“It will translate into better health-care utilization, because the patient will have less hospital visits and physician appointments.” – Dr. Proton Rahman

Dr. Proton Rahman, associate dean of clinical research and a professor of medicine (rheumatology), 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 includes 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.”

First hand

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. But a treatment he started 15 months ago has given him back his mobility. He also 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.”

Healthy communities

A group of people representing Janssen Inc, Memorial University, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the community involved in the announcement stand at the front of a room
Representatives from Janssen Inc, Memorial University, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the community partnered for the announcement of JANL-HIP.
Photo: Jennifer Armstrong, HSIMS

“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.”

“We believe evidence-based decisions lead to the best outcomes,” said Chris Halyk, president, Janssen Inc. “We are very pleased to be part of this important collaboration with Memorial University to uncover insights that will ultimately lead to improved health care in Newfoundland and Labrador and other parts of the country.”

About Janssen

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 the 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.

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