Annual Report 2009-2010

Knowledge to Action: CIHR-Supported Health Research at Work for Canada and Canadians

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Organizational Highlights 2009–10

A new Roadmap for CIHR's future
CIHR released Health Research Roadmap: Creating innovative research for better health and health care, the new five-year Strategic Plan for the organization. Roadmap outlined four strategic directions: invest in world-class research excellence; address health and health system research priorities; accelerate the capture of health and economic benefits of health research; and achieve organizational excellence, foster ethics and demonstrate impact. These strategic directions will enable CIHR to carry out its full mandate, show leadership within the wider health research community, and demonstrate accountability and results to the people of Canada. Separate implementation plans will be published annually, describing specific objectives to be met and providing performance metrics to measure progress.

Developing new sources of medical isotopes
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that the Government of Canada is committing funding to develop alternatives to the medical isotopes produced at the aging Chalk River nuclear reactor. This research initiative is a partnership between CIHR and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Seven projects across Canada are receiving a total of $5.4 million to seek non-nuclear reactor technology alternatives to Technetium-99m, an isotope commonly used in medical imaging procedures.

Responding to the H1N1 pandemic
CIHR participated in a number of initiatives in the fight against the H1N1 virus. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced $10.8 million in funding for a national Influenza Research Network to strengthen Canada's capacity to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a pandemic influenza vaccine and vaccination programs. The Network was created through a partnership between CIHR and the Public Health Agency of Canada and will link more than 80 scientists from 30 research and public health institutions. Health Minister Aglukkaq subsequently announced an additional $2.4 million in funding for the Network to support five research teams over the next two years.

Combating chronic disease around the globe
CIHR partnered with five other national health research councils to form the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases initiative to collaborate in the critical battle against chronic, non-communicable diseases. At its inaugural scientific summit in New Delhi in November, the Alliance decided on three priorities: lowering hypertension (high blood pressure), reducing tobacco use and eliminating indoor pollution caused by crude cooking stoves in developing countries, which together contribute to about one in five deaths worldwide each year.

Celebrating the Gairdner Foundation's 50th anniversary
To help mark the 50th anniversary of the Gairdner Foundation, CIHR invited four distinguished health researchers, each a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, to Ottawa: Dr. Bengt Samuelsson, Dr. Harald zur Hausen, Dr. Peter Doherty and Dr. Rolf Zinkernagel. During their visit, the Laureates delivered lectures at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. The group received special recognition during Question Period in the House of Commons and met Prime Minister Stephen Harper before touring the Library of Parliament and attending a reception hosted by the Honourable Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House.

Improving our understanding of healthy aging
The Government of Canada announced that it is investing $30 million in a long-term study to increase our understanding of healthy aging. The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, a 20-year research project funded in part by CIHR, will follow 50,000 Canadians between the ages of 45 and 85 at the time of recruitment. It will be the most comprehensive study on aging ever undertaken and will create a number of new highly qualified positions across the country. The study's organizers will be hiring as many as 160 researchers and research coordinators, laboratory staff and IT systems personnel over the next year at 10 centres across Canada.

CIHR recognized as one of Canada's top employers
In its annual survey of companies and organizations across the country, Mediacorp Canada Inc. named CIHR one of Canada's Top 100 Employers and one of the National Capital Region's Top 25 Employers. This award recognizes CIHR's commitment to providing a supportive and dynamic work environment for its employees.

Opening up the discussion on health research
CIHR's Café Scientifique program has continued to expand, successfully generating public discussion about the latest evidence in health research. In collaboration with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), CIHR devoted a number of Cafés to the theme of mental health. Regarding the series, the Honourable Michael Kirby, Chair of the MHCC, said, "It's hugely beneficial to researchers to hear from some of the people they are trying to help, as opposed to research being done in an abstract way with no direct connection between the researcher and the person at the end of the line."

Canada joins international effort to provide access to health research
CIHR, the National Research Council's Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information and the US National Library of Medicine partnered to create PMC Canada, a free digital archive of peer-reviewed health science research. The PMC Canada search interface, launched in October 2009, allows users to browse, search and download articles. The long-term goal for PMC Canada is to create an international network of digital archives that will help researchers across the globe build upon one another's work and speed up the discovery process to address important health challenges.

Putting patients first in health research
In an effort to close the gap between basic discoveries and their application to the understanding, treatment and prevention of human disease, CIHR initiated consultations to create a shared vision for the new Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. During the past fiscal year, CIHR held discussions with partners and stakeholders to determine the priorities for this strategy and the steps required to implement it.

Scaling up innovation in primary health care
CIHR brought together researchers, health-care professionals, administrators and policy makers at the Primary Health Care Summit in Toronto. This highly popular event – with over 450 participants – focused on effective practices in primary health-care delivery and strategies for transforming primary health care in Canada. Participants exchanged their knowledge and experiences in primary health-care delivery, research and knowledge translation.

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