Annual Report 2010-2011

Moving Forward

[ Table of Contents ]

President’s Message

The past year has been a remarkable one for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). In 2010-11, we celebrated our 10th anniversary and began our second decade as the major federal agency responsible for health research in Canada.

While justifiably proud of what was accomplished in those first 10 years, we passed that significant signpost without slowing down. In fact, CIHR is now moving forward at a stronger pace than ever, energized by a five-year strategic plan crafted in 2009-10 after extensive consultations conducted across the country.

Health Research Roadmap clarified the directions CIHR will pursue: investing in world-class research excellence, addressing health and health system research priorities, accelerating the capture of health and economic benefits of health research, and achieving organizational excellence. Our first annual Three-Year Implementation Plan and Progress Report, released in 2010, outlined how we are tracking progress as we pursue those goals. Some of our landmark achievements for 2010-11 are outlined in this annual report.

In terms of investing in world-class research excellence, we increased our investments in our flagship open grant competition program, recognizing the importance of supporting a broad-based research enterprise. We also launched, in collaboration with the other two federal granting councils, a new postdoctoral fellowship program — the Banting Fellowships. These prestigious fellowships will help talented Canadian researchers complete their training in the most favourable conditions and will serve as a magnet to attract the world's best young health scientists to Canada.

To address health and health system research priorities, we have begun to deliver on the five Roadmap priority areas, thereby addressing some of the major health challenges currently facing Canadian society. We launched, following extensive consultations with stakeholders, a comprehensive Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research to tackle our decreasing competitiveness in clinical research and to foster a closer integration of research and care. We established a national Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network, to take better advantage of the unique databases provided by our universal health-care system. Finally, we entered into several international agreements to support research partnerships on the global threat posed by Alzheimer's disease.

To accelerate the capture of health and economic benefits of health research, we launched PubMed Central Canada, a free digital archive that now provides patients, students, researchers and entrepreneurs with access to an ever-growing repository of peer-reviewed publications. We also strengthened our support for the Canadian Cochrane Centre and the worldwide Cochrane Collaboration, whose reviews are the gold standard for evidence-based decision making in health and health care.

As for achieving organizational excellence, each of the 13 Institutes has gone through a rigorous process of self-assessment in preparation for the International Review Panel's evaluation of how CIHR has met its goals over the past five years. The exercise of examining priorities, setting out key initiatives and cataloguing outcomes has helped each Institute focus on ensuring that Canadians' investments in health research continue to accrue benefits.

Finally, CIHR has been diligent in advising the Minister of Health on emerging health issues, such as the proposed involvement of venous malformations in patients with multiple sclerosis, and in responding to emerging threats such as the shortage of medical isotopes for medical imaging.

We have used the current CIHR Annual Report to demonstrate who we are, where we've been, and where we're going. In sum, I feel that CIHR begins its second decade on sure footing. We are following our Roadmap and meeting our milestones. And we are moving forward, working to improve Canadians' health and Canada's health-care system.

Alain Beaudet, MD, PhD
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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