Designing the future of health care: how The Ottawa Hospital is leading the way

By the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed vulnerabilities in Canada’s health care and research systems, but it has also revealed opportunities for innovation and transformation. The Ottawa Hospital’s Research Institute has a plan to realize these opportunities and design the future of health care for the benefit of people in Ottawa and around the world.

Key elements of the plan include putting patients first, strengthening Canada’s biomanufacturing ecosystem and building the most technologically advanced hospital in the country. All of this is underpinned by outstanding basic science, which provides a crucial foundation for understanding health and disease and developing new treatments.

Putting patients first

The Ottawa Hospital’s Office for Patient Engagement in Research Activities (OPERA) is the first centre of its kind dedicated to promoting and facilitating patient engagement in research. OPERA, together with the hospital’s Patient and Family Engagement Program, works with more than 200 patient advisors on more than 70 patient-oriented research projects.

Patients provide input on every stage of research, from defining research questions and determining what data should be collected, all the way through to analyzing results and sharing these with the broader community. Engaging patients in this way maximizes the impact of research and ensures that results can be optimally applied to improve health.

Patient engagement is one component of a larger strategy to ensure that all research at The Ottawa Hospital is done according to the highest standards. This strategy is fulfilled in large part through the hospital’s world-class Ottawa Methods Centre (OMC).

Strengthening our biomanufacturing ecosystem

Biotherapeutics, which incorporate biological materials such as cells, genes and viruses, have the potential to cure disease – not just treat it. Examples include vaccines, stem cell therapies and emerging cancer immunotherapies.

The Ottawa Hospital’s Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre (BMC) is the most experienced and successful facility of its kind in Canada, having manufactured more than a dozen different products for human clinical trials in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.

As the only facility of its kind with a track record of both virus and cell manufacturing, and home to Canada’s first hands-on biomanufacturing training program, BMC is playing a crucial role in strengthening Canada’s biomanufacturing ecosystem and supporting made-in-Canada solutions to global health challenges.

To get to the next level, The Ottawa Hospital’s Research Institute is working with five leading Canadian universities and research centres to create a new Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub. The hub aims to be the first of its kind linking public and private intellectual capital, physical infrastructure, GMP facilities and biomanufacturing capacity.

Building Canada’s most advanced research hospital

In 2028, The Ottawa Hospital will open the most patient-centred and technologically advanced research hospital in the country – revolutionizing how we delivery health care in our community and beyond, for generations. Research and learning will be integrated into every clinic to ensure patients have access to the latest treatments and clinical trials.

The new campus will also include a world-class neuroscience institute, which will provide state-of-the art laboratories for basic neuroscience, as well as space for collaboration with clinical neurologists, neurosurgeons and others involved in brain, neuromuscular and mental health conditions.

The new hospital campus will also deploy the most advanced data analytics platform in the country, if not the world. Harnessing big data, digital technology, research, and artificial intelligence will allow us to save lives and enhance care for patients everywhere.


The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute is a Sponsor of the Parliamentary Health Research Caucus Celebrating Our Gairdners Luncheon, co-hosted by Research Canada and The Gairdner Foundation.