Monica Parry wins Connaught New Researcher Award

26 May 2011

Faculty Member: Monica Parry

Dr. Monica Parry, Bloomberg assistant professor and director of Nurse Practitioner Programs, is the recipient of a University of Toronto Connaught New Researcher Award. The selection process is highly competitive as new faculty members from across the university vie for funding from the $1 million awarded annually.

Monica will receive a $10,000 grant to support her project titled, “Ambulatory impedance cardiography in heart failure: A validation study.” Heart failure (HF) is the leading cause of hospitalizations for individuals over 65 years of age and is becoming the most expensive disease to manage worldwide. Up to 50 per cent of individuals hospitalized with HF die within a year. HF is a chronic disease whereby the heart fails to maintain blood circulation, resulting in fluid congestion in the lungs and hospitalization. This high frequency of hospitalizations is primarily related to a lack of an accurate tool for assessing individuals with fluid congestion. Daily weight, blood work and chest X-rays are helpful but not reliable indicators of fluid congestion. Impedance monitoring may prove to be a more accurate and early assessment tool for these individuals.

Impedance monitoring is currently an invasive technology available to individuals with HF who have implanted cardiac devices, such as internal cardiac defibrillators (ICD) and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. Monica is interested in comparing a non-invasive impedance device to these invasive devices in individuals with HF. This is the first step to integrating non-invasive technologies into our care delivery systems and to developing solutions for the management of HF in urban and rural settings.

“Funding from Connaught, as well as the Bertha Rosenstadt Small Research Grant Program, will provide monies to purchase the necessary equipment for phase one of this research,” says Monica. “Overall, we hope this project’s findings will improve heart failure management and reduce the need for emergency room visits and hospitalization due to fluid congestion.”

The Connaught New Researcher Program is designed to foster excellence in research and innovation by providing support for researchers at the assistant professor level who are within the first five years of their first academic appointment at the University of Toronto. The awards are intended to help these early-career researchers establish a strong research program, thereby increasing their competitiveness for external funding.

“As the University’s premier internal funding mechanism, Connaught funds some of the most promising researchers and projects across the University,” says Professor Paul Young, U of T’s vice-president, research. “The New Researcher Awards in particular recognize that these colleagues, who are just starting their scholarly careers, are conducting excellent work. They are tomorrow’s research leaders.”

The sixty-nine U of T researchers awarded grants are the first recipients under the University’s new Connaught structure. The revamped Connaught New Researcher Program allows researchers to apply for one of two levels of award: $10,000 and $50,000. This new, two-tiered award structure acknowledges it is more expensive to launch a research program in some disciplines. However, the majority of funding was reserved for $10,000 awards to ensure equal access across all the areas of the University.

“The majority of the applications were extremely strong this year and deserving of support” says Young. “The review panels and the Connaught committee would quite happily have supported many more awards, had the program allocation made this possible.”

Founded in 1972, the Connaught Fund was created from the sale of Connaught Laboratories, which first mass-produced insulin, the Nobel award-winning discovery of U of T researchers Frederick Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod and James Collip. The University has stewarded the fund in the years since, awarding more than $100 million to U of T researchers. Today, the fund invests nearly $4 million annually in emerging and established scholars.

Previous Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing recipients include Robyn Stremler and Michael McGillion.

View the full list of award winners.