Speech from the President: ICRH Emerging Networks Announcement

Delivered at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
February 24, 2014

Thank you, Dr. Stewart, for your introduction.

And thank you, Minister Ambrose, for being here today, and for re-emphasizing the importance of research and innovation for securing an evidence-based approach to health service delivery and patient care in this country.

The research networks which you have just announced are good examples of the measures that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are taking to bring our brightest minds in health research to tackle the real issues and challenges facing our health system.

These networks include a broad, national coalition of partners that are all committed to having patients drive the priorities and relevance of the research agenda, for this agenda is first and foremost meant to improve their lives and health.

Through discoveries made in research labs and knowledge gained in clinics, these networks are poised to improve the quality, cost-effectiveness, and long-term sustainability of our health care system – and to improve health outcomes for Canadians.

Let me say a few words about each of them.

The Canadian Respiratory Research Network, led by Dr. Shawn Aaron of OHRI, will seek to improve our understanding of the origins and progression of chronic airway diseases in Canada.

Chronic lung diseases such as COPD and asthma affect almost 15% of the entire population of Canada and they exert an enormous toll on our individual health and on our health care system. The Canadian Respiratory Research Network will work collaboratively to find solutions to address the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of chronic lung diseases in Canada.

The Canadian Stroke Prevention and Intervention Network, led by Dr. Jeff Healey of McMaster University, will seek to develop actionable strategies that will: make Canada a global leader in clinical stroke research; ensure the sustainability of these efforts through strategies to recruit, train, support and retain clinical scientists; and implement strategies to reduce the incidence of embolic stroke in Canada.

Finally, the Canadian Vascular Network, which is led by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) – and MC of our event – Dr. Duncan Stewart.

The impact of diseases associated with vascular damage is staggering, affecting more than 3.7 million Canadians, and costing the health care system over $30 billion per year.

This network represents Canada's first comprehensive initiative to bring together researchers from various disciplines to tackle a host of devastating chronic conditions resulting from diseases of the small blood vessels. These conditions include dementia, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and macular degeneration.

My remarks would not be complete without thanking the Minister for her support of health research in Canada.

Minister, the federal government's investments in CIHR and its priorities, such as Canada's Patient-Oriented research Strategy, are laudable and reflective of your personal commitment to improving health outcomes for patients across this country.

Let me close by offering my congratulations and best wishes to the investigators across Canada who are contributing to these three networks. I look forward to learning of your progress in the months and years ahead. 

Thank you! Merci!

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