Justin Trudeau announces research centre for chronic pain among veterans at McMaster

Ramesh Zacharias (left) is the president, CEO and medical director of the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans. Derek Speirs is a veteran and volunteer at the Centre.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today officially launched the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans during his nationally-televised COVID-19 update.

With more than 40 per cent of Canadian veterans suffering from chronic pain, the Centre of Excellence, based at McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences, will centre on pain management research and evidence-based therapies that address veterans’ complex chronic pain challenges and needs.

“This Centre will focus on national research, training and education to provide veterans with the support they deserve,” said Trudeau in today’s address.

“No one, least of all those who have worn the maple leaf, should be without the care they need.”

A national research institution, the Centre of Excellence will work with veterans and their families. It will build a knowledge system and develop evidence-based pain management therapies that will shape the future of veteran-first chronic pain management.

Equipped with this research, the Centre of Excellence will provide training and education to care teams across the country. This will allow veterans access to evidence-based, high-quality pain management services closer to home.

“At the Centre of Excellence, veterans are at the heart of everything we do, from setting the research agenda, to designing pain management therapies, to working with pain clinics and other care providers so that veterans across the country can access care closer to home,” said Ramesh Zacharias, president, CEO and medical director of the Centre of Excellence. He is an assistant clinical professor of the Department of Anesthesia and the medical director of the Michael G. DeGroote Pain Clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences.

The new Centre is guided by the principle of working with veterans in its research and operations to ensure its research addresses what veterans need to better manage their pain.

While the mandate of the Centre of Excellence focuses on veterans, its research-based learnings may ultimately help both veterans and civilians alike, and improve the understanding and care of chronic pain for all Canadians.

“As veterans, we believe that no one should be left behind,” said Derek Speirs, a veteran and a volunteer with the Centre of Excellence. “That’s what drives the Centre of Excellence. Chronic pain is a vicious cycle where you feel hopeless, broken, and isolated.

By getting involved with the Centre of Excellence, veterans can reconnect with each other and break that cycle, and help our brothers and sisters in pain. We can feel hope again.”

The federal funding, announced last year at McMaster, includes $20.1 million the first five years, with $5 million a year after that. The Centre’s research will be shared with a network of academic institutions as well as university- and community-based clinics across Canada.

McMaster is well positioned to host the Centre of Excellence on Chronic Pain, as it has the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care and the National Pain Centre.

It also leads the Chronic Pain Network established by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research which is a unique partnership between patients, clinicians, researchers and policy-makers dedicated to advancing the management of chronic pain in Canada.

The Michael G. DeGroote Pain Clinic of Hamilton Health Sciences treats a significant number of veterans referred from across Canada.

Learn more about the Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans at https://www.veteranschronicpain.ca/.

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