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A Little Bit of Background...

Executive Committee:
Chair: Upton Allen, MD, MSc, University of Toronto, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
Past Chair: H. Dele Davies, MD, MSc, University of Calgary, Alberta Children's Hospital, Calgary
Joanne Langley, MD, MSc, Dalhousie University, IWK Grace Health Center, Halifax
Simon Dobson, MD, University of British Columbia, BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver
Bruce Tapiero, MD, University de Montreal, Hospital St. Justine, Montreal
Nicole Lasaux, MD, University of Ottawa, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa
Joanne Embree, MD, University of Manitoba, Health Science Center, Winnipeg

The Paediatric Investigators Collaborative Network on Infections in Canada (PICNIC) is a collegial group of more than 40 Canadian physicians with an interest in infectious diseases that affect children. We are currently entering our 11th year and have seven multicentre studies that are either ongoing or in the planning stages.

PICNIC began its collaboration with multicentre studies into the natural history of respiratory syncytial virus. Current research endeavours include the following: an observational study of the natural history of aseptic meningitis and variation in management of children with the infection; a prospective cohort study of neonatal fungal infections; studies of the efficacy of antimicrobial therapy in the prevention of pertussis in families, varicella vaccine and prophylaxis against Epstein Barr virus in transplant candidates; and the establishment of a disease registry for post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease. In 1999, the network published papers on group B streptococcal infection in neonates, respiratory syncytial virus in children with underlying lung disease, and a description of how the network functions.

PICNIC's 2000 annual general meeting was held in Toronto in conjunction with the 40th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. The Canadian federal government initiated sweeping changes to the structure of national research funding in Canada in its 1999 budget. Research funding will be significantly increased, and projects that involve collaboration across disciplines, between geographical locations and from the laboratory bench to the patient's bedside are encouraged. Funding will be channelled through a series of 'virtual' institutes that will be organized under an umbrella organization called the Canadian Institutes for Health Research , which replaces the Medical Research Council of Canada. PICNIC participated in a widespread consultative process that took place across the country to help determine the new institutes. PICNIC has participated in the activities leading to the development of institutes for infection and immunity and child health.

PICNIC welcomes ideas for research proposals from individuals or other collaborative networks that aim to decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases that affect children.