40th Anniversary: Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health

By Adem Lewis / in , , /

(mellow music) – Prior to the 70s, there
was very little investigation carried out regarding
the underlying causes of common respiratory
diseases like asthma, and very few standardized
diagnostic criteria. The scientists and clinicians
who started the Firestone saw an opportunity to
improve the diagnosis and management of respiratory diseases. – In the late 70s, McMaster
University and what was then St. Joseph’s Hospital
took a novel approach, embedding research into
a clinical setting. The hope was to encourage collaboration between clinicians managing the diseases and the scientists
investigating the causes, diagnosis and treatment. That was the start of the Firestone, headed by Dr. Michael Newhouse. – Hamilton was an ideal place
to establish the Firestone since nothing of the kind
existed in what was, by then, a city looking to develop
a new medical school. Hamilton’s reputation as a steel town made the location even more appropriate, since it was becoming increasingly evident one of the major causes of COPD was smoking and air pollution. – The Firestone reputation
grew from the start with the unique contributions from people like Mike Newhouse, Freddy
Hargreave, Jerry Dolovich, and Norman Jones, along
with the leadership in the University from Moran Campbell. – My background as a PhD trainee was in medical biophysics. And there we developed imaging tools to evaluate and better
assess lung disease. And my motivation to come to
a center like the Firestone was really to apply these tools and see if we could actually use them to change patient outcomes. – A great example of
the collaborative work is the AeroChamber. It was an answer to a real problem. Patients with asthma had trouble
using inhalers effectively. They couldn’t properly
inhale the aerosol spray. It was Newhouse and his team that invented the valve
aerosol reservoir device, the AeroChamber, that’s
now used worldwide. The Firestone research group
were among the very first to carry out research in lung
ventilation and perfusion using radioactive isotopes
and the scintillation camera. The earliest studies to validate measuring airway responsiveness in asthma were developed by Freddy Hargreave, along with methods to
evaluate inflammation in the airways using induced sputum. The Six-Minute Walk Test
and the asthma control questionnaire are now used worldwide in the evaluation of airway diseases. – We have a much improved understanding of the relationship between
phenotype and genotype of asthma, thanks to the work
of many Firestone colleagues including Drs. Hargreave,
Nair, and O’Byrne. Arguably the most important
research was carried out by Freddy Hargreave in developing the methacholine challenge test now used worldwide in asthma diagnosis. – So what’s unique about
the Firestone is really that in one institute we have
multiple international leaders in pulmonary medicine. And by coupling that clinical expertise with novel imaging technology
that we’re developing, we really have the opportunity to develop the world’s first translational
pulmonary imaging center. – The future looks very bright
for the Firestone Institute. There are a number of extremely skilled, talented young clinicians and scientists who are committed to our
mission to improve lung health. (inspirational music)

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