CANHEART SPOR Innovative Clinical Trials Initiative

SPOR logo

In 2017, the CANHEART research team was awarded a 4-year, $3 million Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)/Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Innovative Clinical Trials grant. Building on the team’s expertise, this initiative will evaluate how ‘big data’ can be effectively used as an innovative and less expensive method for conducting clinical trials. This project will involve researchers, patients, clinicians, decision makers, and knowledge users working together to improve cardiovascular health outcomes.





Patient engagement is a key pillar in the CANHEART SPOR initiative, helping to ensure the work we do is of relevance to patients and their families. A patient advisory panel will be established to guide the project including providing insight into patient experiences with cholesterol management and the health care system, measuring outcomes relevant to patients, and providing feedback to the research team on developing optimal patient interventions for improving cholesterol management. To foster meaningful collaboration and dialogue, patients will be invited to attend and participate in ongoing teleconferences, e-platform discussions with the project team, and in annual study meetings with study investigators.

patient thumbs up and physician


Click here for additional information on the patient advisory panel and how you can join!

If you are interested in joining the panel or have additional questions, please email Tara O’Neill, CANHEART Research Assistant, at




CANHEART SPOR Research Program

The CANHEART SPOR research program includes 2 major research projects:

Project A. Effectiveness of a tailored, multicomponent implementation strategy for improving lipid management in high-risk health regions

We will conduct a novel study to test the ‘real world’ effectiveness of a tailored, multicomponent intervention strategy aimed at improving cholesterol management (screening, risk assessment, statin initiation, statin adherence) among Ontario residents living in regions with a high cardiovascular disease burden. The aim will be to develop and test tools for patients and family physicians to help improve the management of high cholesterol. Measurement of patient characteristics and follow-up for clinical outcomes will be conducted using the CANHEART cohort, created through the linkage of multiple health administrative and other databases available at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

As part of this project, co-investigators Drs. Sharon Straus and Julia Moore from the Knowledge Translation team at St. Michael’s Hospital will lead a qualitative assessment of key barriers and facilitators to optimal cholesterol management in Ontario.


Project B. Development of novel methods for measuring clinical outcomes in clinical trials using big data

Clinical trial event adjudication committees are considered the ‘gold standard’ for ascertainment of clinical outcomes in clinical trials. However, they are costly and rely, in part, on accurate patient recall of hospitalizations. In this project, we will leverage health administrative, laboratory, clinical registry and vital statistics data to develop novel algorithms for measuring clinical outcomes and assess whether they are as accurate as traditional event adjudication committees in 2 prospective clinical trials: INVESTED [INfluenza Vaccine to Effectively Stop cardioThoracic Events and Decompensated heart failure] and ECAD [Eliminate Coronary Artery Disease].

Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Jacob Udell of Women’s College Hospital is the Canadian Principal Investigator for the INVESTED trial ( while Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Michael Farkouh of Toronto General Hospital is the co-Principal Investigator of the ECAD trial.


Mentorship and Training

In collaboration with the University of Toronto’s Heart & Stroke Richard Lewar Centre, we will offer a comprehensive, multidisciplinary training program for graduate and medical students, and post-doctoral fellows working with any CANHEART SPOR team member. In addition, several seed grants will be awarded to young and mid-career investigators. To help build clinical trials capacity in Canada, diverse training opportunities in clinical trials, administrative databases and implementation science will be available.

Please visit the Student Training section of the website for more information.

Alternatively, interested prospective trainees can email Tara O’Neill, CANHEART Research Assistant, at