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Health IT research

$1 million chair in health informatics announced at UW

WATERLOO, Ont. – Andrew Telegdi, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, has announced the NSERC/Agfa Executive Industrial Research Chair in Health Informatics at the University of Waterloo (UW).

“We are facing new challenges in our health care system, requiring new approaches and new responses,” Telegdi said. “Governments are looking to the potential of information systems and communications to improve our health care delivery. The new chairholder is an expert in health informatics and its many applications. His research in workflow applied to health care delivery should help us achieve our goals.”

NSERC and Agfa HealthCare will each contribute $500,000 over five years to the project.

“Agfa is pleased to be an active research partner with the University of Waterloo and the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research where the work is based,” said Michael Green, VP, Agfa Healthcare. “This Chair will help create a synergistic collaboration between the University, Agfa and local hospitals, to the ultimate benefit of all Canadians.”

Prof. Dominic Covvey (pictured at left), the new chairholder, is the founding director of the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research (WIHIR). Established in June 2003, WIHIR is a multi-disciplinary collaboration which brings together more than 50 researchers from 17 departments and schools at UW to address information-related challenges in health and the healthcare system.

“With this Chair, WIHIR will be able to undertake major, collaborative, trans-disciplinary programs in fundamental health informatics research in areas like healthcare workflow, business process management and the economics of health information systems,” said Prof. Covvey. “Business process modelling and workflow research involves computer-based techniques for representing and supporting human work processes. Our objective in this research is to enable an efficient and effective healthcare system.”

“This Chair will allow us to proceed full-speed ahead in the development of the health informatics research potential of the University of Waterloo through the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research,” said Prof. George Dixon, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo. “We are particularly grateful for NSERC’s support of graduate students in this critical area.”

Executive Industrial Research Chairs are awarded to outstanding professionals from industry or other sectors who have a strong track record in conducting and managing R&D at a senior level. “In supporting this Chair, NSERC is recognizing Prof. Covvey’s past achievements and helping him make further contributions to Canada’s health care system,” said Tom Brzustowski, President of NSERC.

The Agfa-Gevaert Group ranks among the world’s leading imaging companies. Agfa develops, produces and markets analog and digital systems, primarily for the graphics industry, as well as the healthcare, non-destructive testing, micrographics, motion picture film and consumer imaging and photography markets. Agfa’s range of technologies, installed in thousands of institutions around the world, facilitates all steps in the clinical process.

The University of Waterloo is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities and has developed a major strategic focus on health and health informatics. WIHIR is a health-related research institute that has been established in response to this key initiative. With the many spin-off companies associated with the University and its large co-operative education program, Waterloo is a leader in technology and knowledge transfer.

Science and Engineering Research Canada (also known by its legal name “Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada” as well as the acronym NSERC) is a key federal agency investing in people, discovery and innovation. It supports both basic university research through research grants, and project research through partnerships among post-secondary institutions, government and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people.