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The breath of life

Helping people live better, one breath at a time.

More than 40 years ago, St. Paul’s Hospital became the launch pad for a true golden age in lung research.

It all started when Dr. James Hogg founded the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI). There were two principal investigators and a single trainee.

Today, HLI has the largest chronic lung disease program in Canada with 68 investigators, 145 students and fellows, 21 named research chairs, and 6 prestigious Canada Research Chairs.[1]

We are a UBC-affiliated, globally-recognized research hub renowned for the research and treatment of lung cancer, asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and long-COVID.

HLI is ranked first in Canada and third in the world in COPD and asthma research. HLI’s director, Dr. Don Sin, is ranked first in Canada and second in the world. This is a big deal: COPD is the number one cause of hospital admissions and the third most common cause of death in Canada.[2]

Right now at HLI:

  • Dr. Sin is working on a blood test that can predict a breathing crisis before it happens. It could reveal how a patient’s asthma or COPD is progressing. And it could help develop targeted drugs and therapies to treat the unique characteristics of each person’s disease.
  • Dr. Alyson Wong is a respirologist at the post-COVID Respiratory Clinic at St. Paul’s. She’s assessing and treating patients, and collaborating with researchers around the world, to identify and prevent the debilitating effects of long COVID.
  • Dr. Pat Camp is investigating air quality in First Nations communities in north-central BC and looking for ways to deliver better health services to remote and rural communities via telehealth and wearable devices.
  • Dr. Bradley Quon is looking for biomarkers that will help clinicians detect changes in patients with cystic fibrosis to determine the best drugs and the most effective treatment plan.
  • Dr. Chris Ryerson is hoping to find a cure for pulmonary fibrosis. In his quest, he has authored or co-authored almost 40 research papers in the last year alone – making him one of the most productive and ambitious pulmonary fibrosis researchers in the world.

Thanks to the incredible clinician-researchers at St. Paul’s, people with lung disease in BC – and beyond – can breathe a little easier.

For more than four decades, discoveries at HLI have fundamentally changed our understanding of lung disease and how we care for patients. Imagine what the next 40 years will bring?

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Just three days after taking Trikafta, George Stubos stopped coughing.

“No coughing. No mucus. I still have cystic fibrosis, but I don’t have symptoms.”

Trikafta is a promising drug for people with certain types of CF – but it can cost up to $300,000 a year. The drug is part of a new trial at St. Paul’s Hospital, undertaken by George’s own specialist, Dr. Bradley Quon.

Dr. Quon is looking at changes in inflammation and immunity in patients after taking Trikafta. The goal is to better understand the drug’s impact on patient outcomes.

For George, the outcome is already miraculous.

“One day you’re sick. The next day you’re not!”

Just 50 years ago, children born with CF were unlikely to see their 5th birthday. Today, they routinely live into their 50s and beyond thanks to advances pioneered by researchers like Dr. Bradley Quon. Your donation brings us closer to better treatments and to a world without CF.

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Pulmonary fibrosis is a particularly devastating disease.

The damage is irreversible and you don’t know you have it until it’s too late. It feels like you’re drowning as the relentlessly-growing scar tissue prevents your lungs from expanding.

Dr. Chris Ryerson and his team are searching for ways to improve early diagnosis and treatment. Until there’s a cure, this is our best chance to improve the quality of life for people living with PF.

Your donation brings hope to British Columbians with PF and it brings critical funding to Dr. Ryerson and his team.

Image of Dr. Ryerson
Image of Dr. Bradley Quon In LAB

Our research and relentless efforts to speed-up clinical trials and patient enrollment have dramatically improved the quality of life for British Columbians living with cystic fibrosis.

Patients who were once unlikely to live to adulthood, are now living into their 60s and beyond.

Breathing is everything. Your donation helps patients – and their families – breathe easier.

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I am so grateful to our donors. Your support allows us to fulfill our ultimate mission of providing ‘exceptional care through exceptional science’ for British Columbians with heart and lung disorders.

Dr. Don Sin

Director and de Lazzari Family Chair in Heart Lung Innovation at HLI; Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in COPD