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Lung Health Research Theme Group

Lead: Andrea Gershon

The objectives of the ICES Lung Health theme group are:

  • To report on the burden of lung disease
  • To create new knowledge that contributes to the effective, safe, and efficient care of people with lung disease
  • To create new knowledge that improves the quality of care for people with lung disease
  • To inform lung health policy-making


Chronic respiratory conditions, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, lung cancer, tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis affect over three million people in Canada. Other acute respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, influenza and respiratory distress syndrome affect even more Canadians. After cardiovascular disease and cancer, chronic respiratory disease is responsible for the greatest number of deaths from chronic disease in Canada. However, unlike cardiovascular disease and cancer, chronic respiratory disease is also highly prevalent in the population. Its prevalence (more than 10%) is comparable to high blood pressure and approximates the prevalence of back problems and arthritis. In addition, some chronic respiratory conditions reduce quality of life to states comparable to those of people living with epilepsy, heart disease, and cataracts.

Research Interests

Our work to date has concentrated primarily on the most common respiratory diseases — asthma, COPD, and sleep disorders — and has focused on key areas that have the greatest potential to improve peoples’ lung health:

  • Asthma & COPD Surveillance. Ongoing population-level surveillance has significantly contributed to our understanding of asthma (Ontario Asthma Surveillance Information System) and COPD prevalence and incidence in Ontario, health care utilization, temporal and geographic trends, mortality, and lifetime risk. This new knowledge has been used extensively by the Ontario and Canadian governments, as well as internationally.
  • Asthma & COPD Management. There are many gaps in evidence-based asthma and COPD care. Projects in this key area, including studies to determine the effectiveness and safety of medications and diagnostic tests, aim to close these gaps.
  • Asthma & COPD Quality of Care. If you can measure it, you can improve it. Ongoing studies are developing or have developed asthma and COPD quality indicators and are using them to measure and detect gaps in quality of care. We have also started work on developing, implementing, and evaluating strategies to close those gaps.

Researchers in the ICES Lung Health theme group are also doing or planning to do work in many other important areas of lung health, including:

  • Smoking Cessation
  • Critical Care
  • Pediatrics
  • Imaging
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Infectious Disease
  • Lung Transplant
  • Primary Care
  • Pulmonary Rehab
  • Sleep
  • Oncology
  • Occupational Medicine

Recent Publications

Collaborations and Partnerships

  • Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Ontario Asthma Plan of Action
  • Health Quality Ontario
  • Canadian Lung Association/Canadian Thoracic Society
  • Ontario Lung Association/Ontario Thoracic Society
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Allergen National Centre of Excellence, Inc.
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Ontario
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • University of Toronto
  • Queen’s University
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto
  • The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
  • Kingston General Hospital

Recent Awards & Recognition

  • 2013 PSI Foundation Fellowship

    Congratulations to Dr. Andrea Gershon as the 2013 PSI Fellow in Translational Health Research. Read more about Dr. Gershon's fellowship on the PSI website.

  • Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization (SEAMO) Clinician Scientist Development Award

    2013-2016: Awarded to Dr. Diane Lougheed.

ICES Scientists