Backgrounder – CIHR Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

Setting the Stage

Cancer is still a leading cause of death in the world. Each year over 12 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million die of the disease. Without significant improvement, in the year 2030 more than 17 million people are expected to succumb from this disease worldwide (WHO stats). In Canada, due to our aging population and lifestyle choices, cancer incidence has not significantly declined in the last 20 years. Yet, by early detection and new research leading to tailored therapies, with increasing numbers of cancer survivors, many cancers are effectively managed and are now considered a chronic disease.

Mandate and Mission

The mandate of ICR is to support research that reduces the burden of cancer on individuals and families through prevention strategies, screening, diagnosis, effective treatments, psycho-social support systems, and palliation. The mission of ICR is to foster research based on internationally accepted standards of excellence, which bears on preventing and treating cancer, and improving the health and quality of life of cancer patients and survivors.

ICR Strategic Research Priorities

Towards providing effective customized cancer care and decreasing mortality from cancer, ICR recognizes the need for innovative research approaches to prevention, detection and monitoring, as well as tailored therapies and care strategies that increase survival, minimize late effects, and improve quality of life. Moving forward, ICR has identified new strategic research priorities for the five year period 2009-2014:

  1. Lifestyle, environment and cancer
  2. Diagnosis and guided therapy: towards personalized medicine
  3. Cancer initiation and progression
  4. Survivorship

ICR Strategic Investments

ICR focuses on the identification of research areas that would benefit from strategic investment stemming from a broad-based, partnered approach, encompassing the four health research domains of biomedical, clinical, health systems and services, and the social, cultural, and environmental factors that affect the health of populations.

Key Initiatives spearheaded by the Institute include: Palliative and End of Life Care, Access to Quality Cancer Care, Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, National Tumour Banking Network, Alternative Radiopharmaceuticals in Medical Imaging, Medical Imaging Clinical Trials Network, Childhood Cancer – Late Effects of Treatment and the Breast Cancer Initiative. ICR has also supported important initiatives such as the Canadian Tobacco Control Research Initiative, CIHR Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research (STIHR), NCIC Clinical Trials Group, Canadian Pediatric Cancer Genome Consortium and the CIHR/NSERC Collaborative Health Research Projects program.

Multi-Institute Roadmap Signature Initiatives: As of 2011, CIHR identified eight Signature Initiatives that align with the vision of its 2009-2014 strategic plan: Health Research Roadmap: Creating innovative research for better health and health care. These initiatives will help CIHR allocate its resources to make the strongest possible impact on health and health care today and in the future. ICR is pleased to support the following Signature Initiatives: 1) Personalized Medicine; 2) Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium; 3) Inflammation in Chronic Disease, and; 4) Community-Based Primary Health Care.

Current ICR Action Plan

ICR future activities will be guided by the four strategic priorities and the CIHR Signature Initiatives. Emphasis will be placed on the continued support of research excellence, and the continuing collaboration with our many partners to align priorities and reduce duplication, and to ensure that research outcomes are captured and used to improve the health of Canadians. ICR will continue to play a leadership role within the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) and support the implementation of the pan-Canadian Cancer Research Strategy. ICR will remain open and accessible to the cancer research community at large and will continue to support cancer research across the continuum from prevention to palliation.

Community Support and Outreach

ICR communicates with the cancer research community through web postings and newsletters and provides regular updates. ICR actively supports the training, networking and mentoring of young investigators and students who will become the next generation of cancer researchers. ICR funds Fellowship prizes, Publication prizes and Travel awards for trainees, and funds workshops and meetings through its Meetings, Planning and Dissemination Grant Program. ICR also engages the public and media through regular Café Scientifique events and journalist workshops on pressing issues related to cancer research.

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