2020 Consortium

Imaging Network Ontario (ImNO) is a group of interdisciplinary consortia focused on accelerating medical imaging innovation in Ontario. A list of ImNO consortia, their lead researchers and main sponsors can be found below. When applicable, links are provided to a consortium’s website. 

OICR Imaging Translation Program

Program Co-Director: Dr. Aaron Fenster and and Martin Yaffe
Sponsor: Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (OICR)

The OICR Imaging Program (OICR IP) accelerates the translation of research into the development of new imaging innovations for earlier cancer detection and diagnosis and treatment through four major projects; probe development and commercialization, medical imaging instrumentation and software, pathology validation, and imaging for clinical trials.

OICR IP facilitates improved screening and treatment options for cancer patients by streamlining advances of medical imaging through the complex pipeline from discovery through clinical translation and ultimately to clinical use.

Development of Novel Therapies for Bone and Joint Diseases

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher:  Dr. David Holdsworth

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability, affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world. The economic burden is high; joint diseases cost the Ontario economy more than $2 billion per year. To reduce this disease burden, this Ontario Research Fund Research Excellence program focuses on the “Development of Novel Therapies for Bone and Joint Diseases,” including improved diagnostic imaging techniques and new approaches for image-guided therapy. A multidisciplinary team of imaging scientists, biomedical engineers, physical therapists, and orthopaedic surgeons work together on key research projects, including the development of new ways to post-process 3D MRI and CT data to guide surgery, dynamic imaging of moving joints (under load), and image-based design of “patient-specific” orthopaedic components.

Heart Failure: Prevention Through Early Detection Using New Imaging Methods

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Frank Prato

Consortium partners: Lawson Health Research Institute, Sunnybrook Research Institute and University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Ten percent of Ontarians over 60 have heart failure. One quarter will die within one year of diagnosis and almost all in ten years. Our LHRI/SRI/UOHI consortium is developing combined PET and MRI imaging methods for early diagnosis when treatment is still possible. The imaging methods developed are being commercialized and will benefit Ontario by improving the health of its citizens and creating new jobs.

Image-guided Device Interventions for Cardiovascular Disease

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Graham Wright

With advances in early identification and management of risk factors, combined with effective response to acute events, cardiovascular diseases have evolved from an acute killer to a chronic disease challenge. In recent years, there have been major advances in less invasive treatments. For minimally invasive device therapeutics, imaging and tracking technologies, along with the development of image-modality compatible tools, have unique roles in planning and guiding interventions, as well as monitoring functional results. In electropathophysiology, imaging will guide positioning of pacing devices, identify ablation targets, and direct therapy through fusion of device representations with maps of myocardial structure and function. Similar advances facilitate planning and guidance of both percutaneous and minimally invasive valve repair/replacement and catheter-based revascularization of chronic total occlusions. Researchers at Sunnybrook and Robarts Research Institutes, working with local, national, and multinational diagnostic imaging and interventional device companies, are advancing the state-of-the-art in image acquisition and analysis with ultrasound, MRI, x-ray, and CT methods, including the design of visualization platforms and associated communication and control interfaces for interventional guidance, facilitating fusion and manipulation of prior and real-time imaging and device information. The ultimate goal is more effective utilization of imaging to improve outcomes for those suffering from chronic ischemia, complex arrhythmias, and heart failure related to structural heart diseases.

Ontario Network of Excellence for Translation of Hyperpolarized MRI Technologies

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher : Dr. Charles Cunningham

Ontario is home to five major research groups developing new forms of MRI based on Hyperpolarized (HP) contrast agents, with the aim of transforming patient care for conditions such as cancer, heart failure and lung disease.  Just as an injection of dye prior to an x-ray exam can reveal important new information, the introduction of HP contrast agents, which are magnetized to be directly detectable in an MRI scan, can open up many new applications of MRI.  Several HP agents have been developed in the past 20 years for MR imaging, and Ontario is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in the development of the next generation of agents and technologies, with expertise and activity in all of the related technology development areas.  The overall objective of this program is to integrate and develop this substantial expertise, creating an Ontario Network of Excellence, bringing these technologies forward to commercialization and, ultimately, application in the health system.  Each of the related technologies is being developed in partnership with MRI hardware vendors and pharmaceutical companies for application in targeted disease areas.

There are five major centres of activity in HP-MRI in Ontario led by: Mitchell Albert in Thunder Bay, Andrea Kassner and Giles Santyr at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Charles Cunningham at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto,  Charles McKenzie, Grace Parraga and Timothy Scholl at the Robarts Research Institute in London, and Michael Noseworthy in Hamilton

Biomedical Computing Laboratory at Queen’s University

Lead Researcher: Dr. Amber Simpson

The Biomedical Computing Laboratory at Queen’s University is National Institutes of Health-funded lab that recently relocated to Ontario from the US. The lab is focused on developing novel computational analyses of routinely acquired diagnostic images such as CT and MRI as well as other relevant biomedical data. This highly integrated group works with hundreds of thousands of images to create biomarkers of cancer progression and survival for evaluation in phase I/II clinical trials. The group spans two faculties (Arts & Science & Health Sciences) and two departments (School of Computing & Department of Biomedical & Molecular Sciences).

Hyperpolarized 13C MRI of Placental Metabolic Abnormalities

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Lead Researcher : Dr. Charlie McKenzie

Over 30% of all pregnancies in Canada and the United States occur in women that are obese. Maternal obesity is often a result of lifelong consumption of an obesity promoting Western Diet that is energy dense and derives most of its calories from fat and carbohydrates.  Altered placental metabolism contributes greatly to increased rates of adverse outcomes in these Western Diet exposed pregnancies, but there is currently no method available to non-invasively measure placental metabolism.  This NIH funded grant (part of the Human Placenta Project) will address this gap by testing a method based on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that allows direct imaging of placental metabolism. The safety of this method will be demonstrated in animal pregnancies and humans. Ultimately we will show that our MRI based method can distinguish the placenta with normal metabolism from one where metabolic function is abnormal due to exposure to the Western Diet.


Other Institutions

Biomedical Imaging Research Centre

Director: Savita Dhanvantari

The Biomedical Imaging Research Centre (BIRC) is a Full Partnership Centre at Western University encompassing London-wide Imaging.
BIRC is focused on the discovery and development of innovative imaging techniques and instrumentation to improve the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of human diseases. Under the umbrella of BIRC, biomedical imaging research in London is now a highly integrated program covering all major imaging modalities and biomedical applications, which include: Cardiovascular Imaging, Imaging in Neurosciences & Mental Health, Neonatology & Pediatric Imaging, Musculoskeletal Imaging, Imaging in Oncology, Respiratory Imaging, Image-guided Interventions, and Basic Imaging Science & Engineering.
BIRC represents biomedical imaging research across five key partners including two research institutes (Robarts Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute), two university departments (Department of Medical Imaging and School of Biomedical Engineering) and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.