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How QReserve helped SickKids researchers collaborate and manage core facilities

SickKids Research Institute

The Peter Gilgan Center for Research and Learning (PGCRL) at SickKids Hospital in Toronto is Canada’s largest, hospital-based child health research institute. Their mission is to advance child health through innovation, research, discovery, and knowledge translation for children and families everywhere. To this end, they rely on collaboration, both within their organization and with outside research teams.

At SickKids, research activities cover a wide range. Researchers study child health from the sub-molecular level, to organ systems, to population health; and cover wellness and normal development as well as causes of disease, diagnostics, treatments, and therapies. Altogether, the Research Institute supports more than 1,600 funded research projects.

Nearly 2,000 staff members, including top researchers and healthcare experts, work closely together on these hospital-wide, interdisciplinary projects. SickKids supports their researchers with access to research expertise, state-of-the-art equipment, core facility technologies and services, and other resources.

Being such a large organization, researchers were often unaware of the resources available across different laboratories. Researchers requiring new equipment for their projects would often approach administrators or grant agencies for additional funding, but many times another lab within SickKids already had the required piece of equipment available—the equipment was simply hidden. Since unnecessarily purchasing duplicate resources is a poor use of funding, SickKids wanted to make a change. SickKids wanted better transparency and insight into their research capacity.

PGCRL staff, with Bryan Bevier as project lead, worked closely with QReserve to find a solution, and that solution was QReserve’s resource showcasing platform. QReserve embedded its showcasing platform into the SickKids website to create the Research Institute Equipment Database. The Equipment Database is a searchable catalogue of over 3,000 resources available at SickKids. Researchers and administrators listed their research equipment with a contact person, research program, building floor, and other important information, all from the QReserve Management Platform, with administrative duties shared among individual lab owners and managers to help maintain information over time. Researchers in need of equipment can now search the Equipment Database from the SickKids website as their first step, filtering results by keywords (e.g., cell counter, microscope, cryostat, etc.), program, floor, or any information listed.

Once researchers find the equipment they’re looking for, they can immediately connect with the owner of that resource. Researchers can send messages directly through the showcasing platform to the resource owner’s email. Researchers may arrange a time to use equipment or schedule a service to be performed. If researchers have pre-authorized permissions, they can even book the equipment right from the Equipment Database. Two of the PGCRL’s core research facilities alone are booking over 1,000 hours of time per month on their equipment. The entire process—from search and discovery to contact and scheduling—is facilitated with QReserve’s interconnected showcasing and management platforms.

The PGCRL Equipment Database has brought SickKids' research resources out of hiding—facilitating collaboration, maximizing utilization, and providing insights that allow for improved allocation of funding. QReserve is proud to be a contributing partner to SickKids' mission of advancing child health.