CIHR Annual Report 2011–12: The Measure of Success

Accelerate the Capture of Health and Economic Benefits
Empowering the transformation of ideas into applications

The 2011 IRP evaluation report acknowledges that CIHR’s mandate is not limited to enabling the creation of new knowledge through health research; it extends to advancing “practical applications” of that new knowledge for the benefit of all Canadians.

Enhance industry relationships and opportunities for Canada

CIHR strengthened the Collaborative Health Research Projects Program it co-funds with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to support investigations that combine natural sciences or engineering with health sciences. CIHR and NSERC now provide base funding of $20.4 million annually – up from $13.8 million in previous years – to collaborative research teams that have partnered with a knowledge/technology user who will benefit from the research results. The projects, which are usually three-year terms with fixed milestones, must lead to health benefits, more effective health services or economic development in health-related fields.

Other examples of long-term, sustainable CIHR programs dedicated to providing crucial support to improve knowledge translation and commercialization include: proof of principle grants that provide almost $5 million annually for research projects of up to 12 months duration to translate discoveries into commercially viable technologies; and industry-partnered collaborative research grants – currently totaling $7.5 million a year – to fund collaborative projects involving the academic community and industry R&D partners.

Improve knowledge translation between researchers, their institutions, CIHR and the public at all levels

In 2011–12, CIHR took important steps to better help researchers translate their discoveries into useful products, practices and policies that can improve health and health care services.

By expanding the eligibility requirements and funding levels of the Knowledge Translation Supplement Program – making it available to investigators engaged in research funded through other peer-reviewed sources and boosting the supplement from $40,000 to $100,000 – CIHR is demonstrating its commitment to integrating knowledge translation into the undertaking of research.

Responding to
Public Concerns over
Multiple Sclerosis

CIHR moved quickly and thoroughly to address and investigate public concern over reports linking multiple sclerosis (MS) with abnormalities in blood flow from the brain – a condition called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI). CIHR and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada launched a request for proposals for a clinical trial to establish the safety of venous angioplasty and examine what impact the procedure has on MS patients. This follows through on recommendations made by CIHR’s Scientific Expert Working Group on CCSVI and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Getting Policy Makers
and Researchers
on the Same Page

In partnership with Health Canada, CIHR launched an exciting new program in 2011 to give highly qualified researchers the opportunity to learn first-hand about health policy development. The Science Policy Fellowships are intended to help foster positive exchange between scientists and policy makers and increase academic researchers’ involvement in public policy. The program will increase science-policy integration while providing expert support to Health Canada’s policy makers as they confront increasingly complex scientific and technical issues. The first three Science Policy Fellows started their six-month assignments in December 2011 and January 2012. Jason Millar of Queen’s University (pictured above) is bringing his experience in clinical ethics, engineering and applied philosophy to bear on policy questions surrounding eHealth technologies as Canada implements its eHealth strategy. During his fellowship, he is researching patient engagement strategies using patient-centred eHealth technologies.

KT Grant Sends More
Cardiac Patients to Rehab Programs
that Cut Mortality Rate

Working at three Toronto-area hospitals, a team led by York University’s Dr. Sherry Grace is using a CIHR Knowledge Translation Supplement Grant to increase uptake of a best-practice “automatic and liaison-facilitated” strategy. The team demonstrated that the strategy was capable of producing an eight-fold increase in patient referrals to cardiac rehabilitation. Studies have shown that cardiac rehabilitation can reduce morbidity and mortality by approximately 25% over one to two years compared with usual care. Early results at three sites show significant improvement in uptake of the strategy, with some units achieving 60% referral rates.

Cutting the Time Needed
to Start Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are absolutely vital to preventing, managing and curing disease. However, the lack of a common contract template – a standardized form to enable health care institutions and pharmaceutical companies to work together on research projects – has been an impediment to staging major clinical trials in Canada. A year-and-a-half-long conciliation effort with the Association of Canadian Academic Healthcare Organizations and Rx&D, the association of Canada’s research-based pharmaceutical firms, led to the creation of a Model Clinical Trial Agreement, unveiled in September 2011. A clinical trials template was made available on CIHR’s website, with changes to be made as needed, to enable industry and academia to more easily collaborate in clinical trials.

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