null Dr. Louise Pilote to coordinate a new personalized medicine project, GOING-FWD

International consortium aims to maximize risk prediction through the integration of sex and gender analysis in research

Feb. 18, 2019

Louise Pilote, MD, PhD, is a member of the Cardiovascular Health Across the Lifespan Program and of the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at the Research Institute of the MUHC. Source: RI-MUHC. A new research challenge aimed at improving the health and well-being of men and women worldwide will be based at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), the coordinating site of an international consortium for the next three years. 

GOING-FWD is a data science, personalized medicine project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health and Research (CIHR) and GENDER-NET+, which is part of the European EU H2020 initiative, for a total of approximately $1.65 million. The project is led and coordinated by Dr. Louise Pilote, a researcher at the RI-MUHC and James McGill Professor of Medicine, McGill University. Co-leaders are Dr. Valeria Raparelli, Visiting Professor of Medicine at McGill University from Sapienza University of Rome, and Dr. Colleen Norris, Professor in Nursing, Medicine and Public Health Science, University of Alberta.

“As we move forward in the twentieth century, research must apply innovative solutions to understand the influence of sex and gender on health outcomes”

A unique collaboration among Canadian and European scientists, GOING FWD will analyze data from more than 30 million patients with chronic disease across Canada and Europe, using a sex and gender lens to more precisely predict risk of clinical and patient-relevant outcomes. 

“Despite advances in the diagnosis and treatment of noncommunicable chronic disease, the day-to-day well-being of women and men affected by these diseases remains suboptimal,” says Dr. Pilote. “As researchers, we are missing an important piece of the puzzle to improve and personalize the management and the quality of life of our patients.” Analysing the impact of sex and gender in this context could, as Dr. Pilote explains, inform our understanding of health outcomes and help tailor individual specific successful sex/gender-based interventions.

GOING-FWD will tackle the missing puzzle piece on a big scale. 

A large volume of data gathered through a network of five countries—Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Spain and Sweden—will allow innovative algorithms to be created that will assist in implementing personalized interventions for the management of noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular, chronic kidney or neurodegenerative diseases.

The project is a natural fit for GENDER-NET+, which aims to promote the integration of sex and gender analysis into research, stimulating new knowledge and insights that ultimately benefit both women and men.

“As we move forward in the twentieth century,” says Dr. Pilote, “research must apply innovative solutions to understand the influence of sex and gender on health outcomes. We believe GOING-FWD is a step in that direction!”

A Brief Scientific Summary of the Project

Background: Beyond biological sex, gender is increasingly recognized as a pivotal determinant of health. However, there are no standardized gender measurements. The authors of the study hypothesize that gender-related factors and their effect will vary substantially between countries and diseases.

Aims: The overarching aims of this large Consortium are to integrate sex and gender dimensions in applied health research, to evaluate their impact on clinical cost-sensitive outcomes and on patient-reported outcomes related to quality of life in noncommunicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, chronic kidney disease and neurological disease. The research team also aims to construct innovative ways to disseminate the application of gender measurement towards personalized approaches to chronic disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Methods: With a five-country transatlantic network comprised of 30 investigators, the project will benchmark innovative solutions to measure gender in retrospective cohorts. Based on consensus, the researchers will develop a framework to identify gender-related factors, as well as cost-sensitive and patient-reported outcomes, and measure their associations in 32 accessible cohorts of patients affected by cardiovascular, chronic kidney and neurological diseases and metabolic syndrome. Large database analysis and, when appropriate, machine learning approaches will allow the derivation of pan- and within-country disease-specific gender scores, which will be validated through e-Health and m-Health applications in prospective disease groups. Educational modules will be developed to promote awareness, implementation and dissemination.

Innovation: As a five-country multidisciplinary Consortium with access to large granular databases, the project is uniquely positioned to harness an innovative methodology that will provide a framework to close gender gaps in chronic disease management and promote knowledge transfer in the scientific community and clinical practice.

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