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ARCHIVED - RPP 2007-2008
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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Section I - Overview

Minister's Message

It is my pleasure to present to my parliamentary colleagues, and all Canadians, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's (CIHR) Report on Plans and Priorities for the fiscal year 2007-2008.

As an important member of the Government of Canada's Health Portfolio, CIHR supports over 10,000 health researchers and trainees in universities, teaching hospitals and other health organizations and research centres across Canada. This kind of support, in turn, enables these centres to attract investment, industry partners, international partners and highly qualified resources. Canada's ability to attract and retain talented, knowledgeable and innovative personnel plays an important role in increasing our competitive advantage. These world-class researchers are leading our search for improved treatment, and ultimately cures, for such diseases as cancer and Alzheimer's, as well as responding to the unique needs of such populations as seniors, children and Aboriginal peoples.

CIHR's Report on Plans and Priorities presents a detailed picture of results-based planning and budgeting for the year ahead and beyond. In the coming fiscal year, CIHR will continue to focus on these objectives which, in turn, will help the Government of Canada meet its broader objectives.

As an example, CIHR will play a major role in helping the Government of Canada achieve goals set out in Advantage Canada: Building a Strong Economy for Canadians, a long-term, national economic plan released in November 2006 and designed to make Canada a true world economic leader. CIHR will contribute to this plan by helping target investments in Research & Development to areas in which Canada has the potential to be a world leader, and developing initiatives that build on the country's scientific strengths such as Canada's Clinical Research Initiative being developed in collaboration with the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the provinces, health charities and industry. In addition, CIHR has a strong track record of graduate support to equip the next generation of knowledge workers. And CIHR is helping strengthen links between universities and the private sector, through programs such as the Proof of Principle and Science to Business, to enhance commercialization of Canadian ideas and knowledge, which is a key component of Advantage Canada.

The ability to build meaningful partnerships, to help shape and articulate and mobilize world-class research activities and the capacity to help transform this research into action are all qualities that have helped distinguish CIHR and will continue to play a role as the organization continues to evolve. The Government of Canada relies on these qualities as it strives to serve the health needs of Canadians in a way that is both accountable and grounded in evidence. CIHR-funded research contributes to sound health policy, improvements to the health-care system and increased productivity.

Tony Clement
Minister of Health

President's Message

The past year provided an opportunity to evaluate the accomplishments of CIHR's first five years and determine future directions to ensure continued excellence and relevance of health research in Canada. As part of this process, CIHR underwent a rigorous review of its activities conducted by a well-respected and renowned 27-member International Review Panel (IRP). The IRP Report voiced strong confirmation of the directions that CIHR has established and optimism about the quality of research that will be delivered as a result.

CIHR's core priority is to improve the health of Canadians through research. To achieve this priority, we have focused on several key results and performance measures. Examples include: new understanding of disease; new or improved diagnostics; attracting and retaining new talent; informing and strengthening public policy with evidence-based research results; and, adding economic value through the creation of successful new companies or licensing deals.

For example, CIHR funding of research by UBC researcher Dr. Brett Finlay helped develop a unique vaccine for E. coli for use with cattle. The technology, transferred to Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. recently received preliminary federal approval to begin selling the vaccine in Canada. And, in the past year, Neuromed, recently signed the largest ever biotech deal in Canadian history. This agreement between Neuromed Inc. and Merck is worth potentially $475 million and will focus on commercializing molecules developed by Neuromed to fight chronic pain, work that required 11 years of prior CIHR-funded research by company founder and UBC professor, Dr. Terry Snutch.

Federal funding has enabled CIHR to expand, strengthen and deepen the essential base of scientific excellence in Canada to produce more of the kinds of success stories described above.

As we move into 2007-2008, CIHR will continue its focus on excellence, especially in our peer review system, and measures to increase accountability. CIHR's efforts will persist in knowledge translation and commercialization of research discoveries. Moreover, CIHR will keep on making strategic investments in health research to respond to national priorities such as; pandemic preparedness, wait times, indoor air quality, health and the environment, obesity, and mental health.

CIHR looks forward to continued hard work and investment in each of these areas to help deliver to Canadians the full measure of benefit from health research.

Dr. Alan Bernstein, O.C., FRSC
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2007-2008 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2007-2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the TBS guidance;
  • It is based on the department's Strategic Outcomes and Program Activity Architecture that were approved by the Treasury Board;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Dr. Alan Bernstein, O.C., FRSC
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Summary Information

Raison d'être

The mandate of CIHR is to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system (Bill C-13, April 13, 2000).

To accomplish this, CIHR provides a range of programs and activities that are designed to support outstanding research - both investigator-driven and strategic, to build health research capacity, and to promote knowledge translation in accordance with CIHR's mandate and strategic directions. CIHR funds more than 10,000 health researchers and trainees in universities, teaching hospitals and other health organizations and research centres across the country who conduct research in the following areas: biomedical; clinical; health systems and services; and the health of populations, societal and cultural dimensions of health and environmental influences on health. Together, these activities will position Canada as a world leader in the creation and use of health knowledge for the betterment of Canadians and people everywhere.

Financial Resources: (in millions)

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010

Human Resources:1

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010

Departmental Priorities:

Priority Type Programs Planned Spending
(in millions)
Strategic Outcome: Outstanding Research - Best health research supported to create health knowledge responding to opportunities and priorities
Strategic Priority #1: Research
Advance health knowledge, through excellent and ethical research, across disciplines, sectors, and geography.
Ongoing 1.1. Fund Health Research
Strategic Outcome: Outstanding Researchers in Innovative Environments - Strong health research community able to undertake outstanding research
Strategic Priority #2: Researchers
Develop and sustain Canada's health researchers in vibrant, innovative and stable research environments.
Ongoing 2.1. Fund Health Researchers and Trainees
2.2. Fund research resources, collaboration and other grants to strengthen the health research community
2.3. Develop and support a strong health research community through national and international alliances and priority setting
2.4. Inform research, clinical practice and public policy on ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) related to health and health research
Strategic Outcome: Transforming Health Research into Action - Health research adopted into practice, programs and policies for a productive health system; and stimulation of economic development through discovery and innovation
Strategic Priority #3: Knowledge Translation
Catalyze health innovation in order to strengthen health and the health care system and contribute to the growth of Canada's economy.
Ongoing 3.1. Support activities on knowledge translation, exchange, use and strategies to strengthen the health system
3.2. Support national efforts to capture the economic value for Canada of health research advances made at Canadian institutions

Management Priorities
In December 2006, CIHR's senior management cadre, including representatives from the 13 Institutes, developed three-year operational priorities (2007-2008 to 2009-2010) to guide business planning across the organization. These priorities and the related key activities will be reviewed annually:

  • Continue to improve CIHR's health research programs and peer review system;
  • Improve CIHR's service delivery and streamline processes;
  • Strengthen accountability, transparency and communications; and
  • Foster a motivated, committed and productive workforce.

  1. All references to human resources are for Full Time Equivalents (FTEs), unless otherwise noted.

CIHR Operating Environment

1. Approach to Health Research
CIHR is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's vision is to position Canada as a world leader in the creation and use of new knowledge through health research that benefits the health of Canadians and the global community.

International Model
In June 2006, the International Review Panel responsible for CIHR's first 5-year review delivered its final report which applauded CIHR's accomplishments to date and noted that internationally CIHR is the new model for health research. It also identified areas where further action could be undertaken in relation to governance and management; research programs and peer review; knowledge translation; ethics; evaluation; communications; and Canada's research landscape. CIHR's initiatives in these areas are addressed in Section II and IV of this document.

A Problem-Based Multidisciplinary Approach

CIHR Institutes

Aboriginal Peoples’ Health
Cancer Research
Circulatory and Respiratory Health
Gender and Health
Health Services and Policy Research
Human Development, Child and Youth Health
Infection and Immunity
Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis
Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction
Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes
Population and Public Health

Through its 13 Institutes, CIHR is creating new opportunities for Canadian health researchers to produce results that matter to Canadians and the rest of the world. CIHR uses a problem-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to health research. The majority of its funded research is investigator-driven, while funding is also directed towards specific strategic initiatives that respond to health challenges that are of high priority to Canadians.

CIHR's approach is enabled by its structure - unique in the world- that brings together researchers from across disciplinary and geographic boundaries through its 13 Institutes. Each Institute addresses a health research theme that is of importance to Canadians.

In total, CIHR funds more than 10,000 health researchers and trainees in universities, teaching hospitals and other health organizations and research centres across the country. It supports health research that meets the highest international standards of excellence and ethics in the following areas: biomedical; clinical; health systems and services; and the health of populations, societal and cultural dimensions of health and environmental influences on health.

A Key Role in the Health Portfolio
The Minister of Health, through the work of the Health Portfolio, is responsible for maintaining and improving the health of Canadians. The Portfolio consists of Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and the newly formed Assisted Human Reproduction Canada. Each member of the Portfolio prepares its own Report on Plans and Priorities.

The Health Portfolio consists of approximately 11,400 employees and an annual budget of over $4.5 billion.

Health Portfolio

2. CIHR's Core Business
CIHR activities include the funding, coordination and promotion of health research through open competitions, strategic initiatives, and knowledge translation. CIHR also participates with other federal agencies in a number of programs, including the Networks of Centres of Excellence program, Canada Research Chairs, and Canada Graduate Scholarships.

CIHR invests a significant portion of its budget on research grants and personnel support awards in "open" competitions, enabling individual researchers or groups of investigators to identify research areas that they consider to be of importance. The remainder of the CIHR budget is invested in "strategic" research, that is, research on specific topics identified by CIHR's Institutes following broad consultation.

CIHR provides a range of career and training programs to support health researchers across all disciplines, building capacity in those areas where needs are identified. It develops and supports innovative training programs that promote a multidisciplinary approach to understanding health and disease. CIHR also contributes to improved research ethics policies and practices in Canada and internationally.

CIHR has established many new initiatives in the past seven years, almost all in partnership with others, to realize the potential of research to improve the health of Canadians, strengthen Canada's health care system, and contribute to our knowledge-based economy. They include:

  • programs to assist researchers in translating their discoveries to applications in the marketplace, and to engage communities across Canada in health research;
  • strategic initiatives that address emerging health threats and other important issues of concern to Canadians, such as obesity, cancer and mental health; and
  • innovative training initiatives that will support the next generation of health researchers and provide them with the training they need in a collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment.

Knowledge Translation
A key part of CIHR's mandate, knowledge translation (KT) is the synthesis, exchange and ethically-sound application of knowledge to accelerate the capture of the benefits of research for Canadians through improved health, more effective services and products, and a strengthened health care system. This is accomplished through funding of Knowledge Translation research and activities; facilitation and management of partnerships that can accelerate Knowledge Translation; and development of measurement, analysis and evaluation policies, frameworks and tools to assess the outcomes and impacts of CIHR-funded research.

Health-related companies, including biotech companies, are responsible for more than $20 billion in revenues each year. CIHR has developed a coherent suite of programs to help move research discoveries from the academic setting to the marketplace. CIHR's new Commercialization and Innovation Strategy builds on work done to date, and fills gaps identified in moving discovery to the marketplace.

World Class Research Through CIHR's Peer Review Process
Applications for support from CIHR undergo rigorous peer review on a competitive basis by committees of experts in the field. These experts examine proposals with respect to their significance in advancing knowledge and promoting the health of Canadians. They also assess them on the basis of innovation and feasibility of technical approach. The qualifications and track record of the researchers and the availability of the resources and expertise necessary for the proposed studies are also examined. Through a process of consensus, the committee arrives at a numerical rating for each proposal. As a result, only those that meet internationally accepted standards of excellence are funded.

There are now more than 100 CIHR peer review committees and the peer review process involves over 2,300 volunteer expert reviewers each year, from Canada and abroad. The committees make recommendations for funding on the merits of applications.

3. CIHR's Partnerships - Leveraging our Impact
Partnerships have played a central role in the success of CIHR since its inception. By pooling resources, we have been able to fund more research teams in areas of shared strategic importance spanning a wide range of health challenges. CIHR engages partners along the entire spectrum of health research, from setting research priorities, through funding research, and eventually to translating the resulting knowledge into action.

Partnerships are developed primarily by Institutes to address the research themes they have identified, in collaboration with their partners, but can also involve CIHR-wide programs. Examples include partnerships involving industry, the Regional Partnership Program, and the Clinical Research Initiative.

CIHR's impact would be significantly reduced in the absence of partnerships, a fact which holds true for any player in the health research field. In the six years that CIHR has been in existence, we have established more than 400 partnership agreements with over 300 organizations. Over the same period, these kinds of partnerships have resulted in over $500 million in additional funding for CIHR-led health research projects. However, the value of partnerships extends beyond that of a financial transaction. Non-financial contributions can include access to professional networks, areas of expertise, shared tools and documentation, and in-kind resources.

Through strategic partnerships, CIHR is leveraging support for government priority areas. Here are two examples:

Partnership Example - Partnering for Pandemic Influenza Preparedness

Recognizing the need to develop a coordinated and focused research effort and to build research capacity in pandemic influenza in Canada, the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity has worked with its partners to establish the Pandemic Preparedness Strategic Research Initiative (PPSRI). The mandate of the PPSRI is to identify strategic research priorities and support pandemic preparedness research. The initiative is supported by the federal government which announced in May 2006 that it would provide $21.5 million over five years to support pandemic influenza research.

Work to be done through the PPSRI includes identifying current gaps in knowledge and supporting research training, operating grants, teams and multidisciplinary approaches to pandemic preparedness. The ultimate goal is that the new knowledge will allow Canada and other countries around the world to prevent or mitigate an influenza pandemic.

CIHR has launched four pandemic preparedness research initiatives to address the strategic priority areas in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Rx&D Health Research Foundation, the International Development Research Centre, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Canadian Foundation for Infectious Diseases, and the related Networks of Centres of Excellence.

Partnership Example - Partnering to Strengthen Clinical Research

CIHR and Canada's research-based pharmaceutical companies (Rx&D) renewed an on-going partnership in early 2007 to help Canadian patients by making Canada the destination of choice for clinical trials. The CIHR/Rx&D Collaborative Research Program will invest new funding over the coming years on clinical trials related to creating more effective treatments and improving patients' quality of life.

Over the past five years, the CIHR/Rx&D Collaborative Research Program has invested over $320 million in valuable research projects at universities and teaching hospitals across Canada, making this public-private research agreement one of the largest in the country.

The objective of the program will continue to focus on building clinical research support through personnel awards such as CIHR-Rx&D Research Chairs and operating support programs, including research grants and clinical trials.

Furthermore, the program will encourage the sharing of best practices in clinical research, leading to better training of investigators and more comprehensive clinical trials. Activities such as this reflect an ongoing commitment to research and the creation of new and innovative ideas, ideas critical to improved health and Canada's competitiveness in the global knowledge-based economy.

CIHR engages many types of organizations in partnerships including voluntary organizations, the private sector, the public sector and others, in or outside Canada, with complementary research interests. The following is a list representative of CIHR partners from all sectors.

Examples of Current CIHR Partners: Working Together for the Health of Canadians2

Federal Departments/Agencies Provincial Departments/Agencies
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation
  • Canadian Blood Services
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information
  • Canadian International Development Agency
  • Department of National Defence
  • Environment Canada
  • Genome Canada
  • Health Canada
  • International Development Research Centre
  • National Research Council
  • National Secretariat on Homelessness
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Council
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
  • Statistics Canada
  • Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research
  • Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec
  • Government of Saskatchewan (Innovation and Science Fund)
  • Manitoba Health
  • Medical Research Fund of New Brunswick
  • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (BC)
  • Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux du Québec
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research
  • Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation
  • Ontario Innovation Trust
  • Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Ontario Research & Development Challenge Fund
  • PEI, through the Regional Partnerships Program
  • Provincial/Territorial Deputy Ministers of Health
  • Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation
Voluntary Organizations Industry
  • ALS Society of Canada
  • Alzheimer Society of Canada
  • The Arthritis Society
  • Canadian Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Foundation
  • Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
  • Canadian Association of Medical Oncologists
  • Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation
  • Canadian Diabetes Association
  • Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
  • Canadian Fanconi Anemia Research Fund
  • Canadian Hypertension Society
  • Canadian Institute for Relief of Pain and Disability
  • Canadian Lung Association
  • Canadian Medical Association
  • CNIB E.A. Baker Foundation
  • Dystonia Medical Research Foundation of Canada
  • Health Charities Coalition of Canada
  • Fragile X Research Foundation of Canada
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
  • The Kidney Foundation of Canada
  • Muscular Dystrophy Canada
  • NeuroScience Canada
  • Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation
  • Ontario Prader-Willi Syndrome Society
  • Canada's research-based pharmaceutical companies (Rx&D)
  • Canadian biotechnology companies
  • National agri-food organizations
  • Australia Research Council
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (U.S.)
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)
  • CNPq (Brazil)
  • CONICET (Argentina)
  • Human Frontier Science Program (France)
  • Indian Council for Medical Research
  • Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (France)
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (France)
  • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
  • Max Planck Institute (Germany)
  • Medical Research Council (U.K.)
  • National Institute of Health of Mexico National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • National Natural Science Foundation of China
  • Ministry of Education of China
  • The National Research Council (Italy)
  • New Zealand Health Research Council
  • Veterans Administration (U.S.)
  • Wellcome Trust (U.K.)

2. This list is representative of CIHR partners. CIHR values all its partners; however, space limitations prevent the listing of all partner organizations.

4. International Collaborations
From its inception in 2000, CIHR has been active internationally, with over 150 collaborations with non-Canadian organizations, the majority led by Institutes. On the whole, CIHR's support for international collaboration constitutes approximately 5% of its annual grants and awards budget expenditures. Examples of funding programs and activities with international partners include:

  • Various CIHR Institutes have been active in establishing collaborations with counterpart organizations in China (neuroscience, maternal and child health, cardiovascular disease, genetics, diabetes and obesity, infection and immunity, and aging), Japan (neuroscience, maternal child and youth health, aging), Germany and Italy (genomics), Mexico (tuberculosis, influenza), Australia and New Zealand (Aboriginal peoples' health), the U.S. (mental health, heart/lung/blood), and India (chronic and life-style diseases);
  • CIHR in partnership with Health Canada, the International Development Research Centre, and the Canadian International Development Agency, are developing the Global Health Research Initiative, a novel initiative to increase Canada's involvement in addressing the health research needs in the developing world;
  • CIHR participates in seven international scientific exchange programs, which are intended to foster collaboration between independent investigators in Canada and those from Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Italy and Japan;
  • CIHR is a lead partner in the Canada-HOPE Scholarship Program. This program enables promising scientists and clinicians from low and middle income countries to be mentored by prominent Canadian researchers and to be exposed to some of the best science, laboratories, and training environments in Canada;
  • CIHR is a major contributor to Heads of International Research Organizations (HIRO), the informal group of equivalent health research funding agencies in countries including the U.S. (NIH), U.K. (MRC), France (INSERM), Germany (Max Planck), China (Chinese Academy of Sciences), and Australia (NHMRC); and
  • CIHR contributes to the 31-nation Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP), both in terms of funding and the participation as a member of the HFSP Board of Trustees;

5. Moving Forward: Blueprint for Health Research and Innovation
In January 2004, CIHR launched its first strategic plan: Investing in Canada's Future: CIHR's Blueprint for Health Research and Innovation. Blueprint builds on CIHR's early years, charting a path for the next phase of growth and setting out its future direction. The plan sets out five key areas where CIHR will focus over the period 2003-2004 to 2007-2008:

  1. strengthen Canada's health research communities;
  2. address emerging health challenges and develop national research platforms and initiatives;
  3. develop and support a balanced research agenda that includes research on disease mechanisms, disease prevention and cure, and health promotion;
  4. harness research to improve the health status of vulnerable populations; and
  5. support health innovations that contribute to a more productive health system and prosperous economy.

In 2007-2008, CIHR will revisit and revise its strategic plan through national consultations with its partners and health research stakeholders.

6. Managing Risks and Challenges
CIHR is continuously assessing opportunities, challenges and risks at three levels: strategic, programmatic and administrative. For environmental scanning and response development at a strategic level, each of the thirteen Institutes has an Advisory Board that provides a wide variety of perspectives on health and health research issues. These boards identify threats to the health of Canadians, or opportunities for rapid advances in health knowledge, and develop strategic research initiatives in response. At the programmatic level, CIHR assesses the opportunities and risks associated with different types of research and designs appropriate research funding mechanisms. At the administrative level, staff regularly assess opportunities and threats. Responses are considered and approved by management committees.

Research takes time and a sustained investment. A large portion of the CIHR budget is committed to grants and awards that extend over three to five years. CIHR is continually challenged by the need to provide this longer term funding while maintaining its capacity to fund new projects.

CIHR is also challenged by increasing application pressure. During a time that the CIHR budget more than doubled, application pressure increased so much that success rates in major competitions actually dropped. More and more highly recommended applications must be turned away because funds are not available. Going forward, it will be important to ensure a stable source of funds to respond to this increased demand. Otherwise, Canadian researchers unable to obtain research operating grants here may move to countries where grants are available.

Specific risks and challenges related to each Strategic Outcome are identified in Section II of this document.