Tzu Chi Foundation announces almost $1 million in support for VGH

    Funds dedicated to Ear, Nose, and Throat and the fight against emerging
    infectious diseases

    VANCOUVER, March 13 /CNW/ - Almost $1 million in new equipment and
research funding is destined for Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), thanks to
the generosity of the Tzu Chi Foundation Canada. Tzu Chi, long-time VGH
supporters, are making their donation through the VGH & UBC Hospital
Foundation and helping advance the world-class health care practiced at the
    Their donation, which has two distinct components - new, sophisticated
equipment needed by the Hospital's Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat or
ENT) division and a new groundbreaking technological platform that identifies
and knocks out emerging infectious diseases - demonstrates their foundation's
focus on charity, medicine, education and humanity.
    "Our membership wanted to take action, and support something that would
bring benefit to many," said Gary Ho, CEO, Tzu Chi Foundation Canada. "By
funding equipment, with tangible results for people in British Columbia who
are cared for at VGH, and infectious disease research, with its worldwide
potential, we're pleased to be supporting the communities we live and work in,
at many levels."
    Part of the gift is a powerful new Ears Nose and Throat "Endoscopy
System." This piece of equipment is used for visually examining the interior
of the nose and throat. It provides ENT doctors with a clear view of the nasal
cavity and sinuses, down the back of the throat and to the vocal cords. It
allows early detection and treatment of potentially lethal diseases, including
a type of cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, that is seen mainly in people
originally from Southeast China, including Hong Kong and Guangdong.
    "These tumours, which appear in the nasal cavity, occur approximately 70
times more often in patients from this region, than they do in other patient
groups seen at VGH," said Dr. Neil Longridge, Head of the Division of
Otolaryngology. "Because this equipment is so much more powerful than what
we've worked with before, it will make a big difference in diagnosing this
condition, catching it before it is at a critical stage, and keeping people
out of the hospital. The generous gift from Tzu Chi Foundation Canada will
enable the latest, most advanced treatment for people from across B.C. with
this disease and with other ENT illnesses."
    Nasopharyngeal tumours have an 80 per cent cure rate if caught early; but
an 80 per cent mortality rate if detected late. The Endoscopy System not only
allows medical experts to visually see potential tumours, but also to perform
patient biopsies and treatments on the spot.
    The second part of Tzu Chi's gift is a commitment that their
organization's members will raise $750,000 for an initiative intended to
respond to infectious diseases of the future.
    The Proteomics for Emerging Pathogen Response research project, more
commonly called PREPARE, will have worldwide implications.
    The PREPARE project will accelerate the development of new drugs and
vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, building on Vancouver's success in
fighting SARS. The project is made up of pioneering team members from VGH,
Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI), UBC and BC Centre of
Disease Control who are using proteomics to identify the proteins in
life-threatening pathogens and then designing computer-simulated drugs to
precisely target and knock out these proteins. This new approach will cut in
half the time required to develop targeted drugs and vaccines for deadly,
unknown microorganisms.
    "Vancouver is an acknowledged world leader on the forefront to fight
deadly emerging infectious diseases. Donor-led fundraising enables Vancouver
to build on these strengths and emerge as a major centre to develop drugs and
vaccines in record time," said Dr. Neil Reiner, Head, Division of Infectious
Diseases, VGH and head of the PREPARE project.
    "We're pleased to recognize Tzu Chi Foundation Canada today. They have
been important to so many at VGH over the years. Their generous donation and
the leadership they've taken is commendable," said Ron Dumouchelle, President
& CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation."

    VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is a registered charity that raises funding
for the latest, most sophisticated medical equipment, world-class research and
improvements to patient care for Vancouver General Hospital, UBC Hospital, GF
Strong Rehab Centre and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. For more
than 25 years, the Foundation and its donors have been a bridge between the
essential health care governments provide and the most advanced health care

    Tzu Chi was founded in 1966 by a Buddhist nun in Taiwan; the Canadian
branch - based in Vancouver - is one of 300 branches world-wide that focuses
on charity, medicine, education and humanity with the spirit of sincerity,
integrity, trust and honesty.


    VGH Division of Otolaryngology & PREPARE Project

    VGH Division of Otolaryngology

    A provincial resource
    The Otolaryngology Program at VGH - also known as ENT, for Ear, Nose and
Throat - is a referral centre for patients from across B.C. and Yukon. With
about 11,000 patient visits annually, the ENT Clinic is a busy place,
operating several patient care programs, including:

    -   A weekly dizziness and tinnitus clinic - dizziness is the second most
        common reason for visits to a family practitioner, and is one of the
        most challenging disorders to diagnose, as it can be linked to
        neurological problems as well as ear problems.
    -   The Pacific Voice Clinic and the Provincial Voice Care Resource
        Program - providing diagnosis and therapy for people with voice
        disorders, as well as ongoing support for patients with neuromuscular
        diseases such as multiple sclerosis or ALS that affect speech.

    Surgical procedures including simple cancer surgery are done as day cases
at the clinic - more complex cases are handled in the Jim Pattison Pavilion
operating rooms.

    Specialized surgery and patient care
    Many of the surgeons at the ENT Clinic perform operations that cannot be
done anywhere else in the province. For example, program head Dr. Neil
Longridge is known for a laser surgery procedure called stapedectomy, in which
a tiny prosthesis is inserted to replace a damaged bone in the inner ear.
Stapedectomies are performed quite rarely - mostly because the hearing loss
caused by the damaged bone progresses so slowly that people do not notice it
until others make note of it. Many people compensate by unconsciously learning
to read lips.

    Tzu Chi Canada Foundation's March 2007 equipment donation
    Tzu Chi Canada Foundation is funding equipment for VGH's Ear, Nose and
Throat (ENT) Clinic. The equipment includes an ENT endoscopy system, cautery
unit, ultrasonic cleaner, SMR units and stretchers.

    1)  ENT Endoscopy System An endoscope is an instrument used for visually
        examining the interior of the body. It provides doctors with a clear
        view of the nasal cavity and sinuses, down the back of the throat and
        to the vocal cords; an important ability in their area of medical
        specialty. The system's small instruments are generally well
        tolerated by patients with little or no medication ("freezing").

        The system creates an image of what is being "scoped" and displays
        that image on a large screen. These images can be stored for follow-
        up. Doctors can do biopsies and treat many conditions right on the
        spot with this equipment. The system is well suited to help detect
        and treat nasopharyngeal tumours, which can be cancerous. Cancerous
        nasopharyngeal tumours have an 80 per cent cure rate if caught early;
        but an 80 per cent mortality rate if detected late.

    2)  The "cautery unit" (also called an electrosurgical unit), uses high
        frequency electrical current for coagulating and cutting. The cautery
        unit purchased for the ENT Clinic is identical to the units in VGH's
        main inpatient Operating Rooms.

    3)  The SMR carts are like a little ENT support system. They are cabinets
        that house and power many of the essentials the ENT surgeon needs.

    4)  The Transcend Surgical Chair offers safe, controlled and comfortable
        patient positioning during treatment.

    PREPARE - a new technology to speed up drug and vaccine development

    PRoteomics for Emerging PAthogen REsponse or PREPARE uses a new type of
science called proteomics, in combination with high-speed computing called
bioinformatics, to identify drug targets within bacteria.

    -   PREPARE is part of a strategy to ensure that the human resources and
        technological tools are in place to identify new diseases and quickly
        develop new drugs and vaccines.
    -   Target identification is one of the most time-consuming aspects of
        new drug and vaccine development.
    -   Once these targets are found, PREPARE will work with biotechnology
        companies to find drugs that attack the targets and to do preliminary
        testing of these drugs. Later, pharmaceutical firms will become
        involved in the process of testing drugs on human populations.
    -   To prove that the PREPARE technology works, the research team will
        begin by finding new drug and vaccine targets for four diseases that
        affect millions of people worldwide:

        E. coli is the cause of dramatic outbreaks of infection - often
        carried by food or water - that lead to kidney failure, especially in
        children and the elderly. One of the largest Canadian outbreaks of E.
        coli recently occurred in Walkerton, Ontario with seven deaths and
        2,300 cases of illness.

        Drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is the most common form of
        hospital-acquired infection and has a high fatality rate. Thousands
        of Canadians have been affected by skin, bone and blood infections
        and pneumonia.

        Salmonella is the third most common cause of gastro-intestinal
        disease in Canada. Often carried by food, symptoms of a salmonella
        infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and fever.

        Chlamydia affects 90 million people worldwide and is the most common
        sexually transmitted disease in Canada. It is the most important
        preventable cause of infertility. Since current treatment programs
        are expensive, they are generally unavailable to people in developing

    -   Once the technology and methods of PREPARE have been verified with
        these four diseases, the project will move from pilot status to being
        a permanent weapon in the battle against emerging infectious

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Lisa Carver, Vancouver Coastal Health Research
Institute Communications, Tel: (604) 875-4111, local 61777, Cell: (604)
319-7533,; Celia Lam, Chinese Media & Community Relations
Specialist, Cell: (604) 312-8282,

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