Message from the President: Update from the February 25 Governing Council Meeting

The Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research held its 92nd meeting in Ottawa on February 25, 2015.

Governing Council was given an overview of the implementation of structural and peer review reforms of CIHR's open programs. Members agreed that this significant overhaul of the organization's practices progresses satisfactorily.

Council members were provided a progress update on the implementation of their decisions from the Institutes Model Review, announced on August 28, 2014.

It was noted that a significant amount of work has been completed, specifically with respect to the development of a new financial framework to be implemented in April 2015. This framework will see half of the Institutes' research budget invested in a common fund—now referred to as the Roadmap Accelerator Fund. This fund, directed by CIHR's Science Council, will support multi-Institute and multidisciplinary initiatives aligned with the priorities set out in CIHR's new five-year strategic plan, Health Research Roadmap II, which will be officially launched in early March 2015.

Council members agreed that discussions concerning the restructuring of Institute Advisory Boards had been positively shaped by input from current Advisory Boards chairs and members. It was decided that the proposed model—comprising fewer boards to enhance collaboration and decrease administrative burden— must take into account and complement other CIHR advisory mechanisms. Council members requested that the new Institute Advisory Board model be developed before the June 2015 Governing Council meeting. Pending Council approval, the new model would be implemented by Spring 2016, which would allow for an appropriate transition period.

Council members discussed a range of health research issues, including those related to Aboriginal peoples. CIHR's new strategic plan identifies Aboriginal health research as one of four key priorities over the next five years. Council insisted on the importance of developing and supporting research capacity within Aboriginal communities, to carry out research on both aboriginal and non-aboriginal health issues.

The Governing Council also discussed CIHR's proposed spending over the next three years. Projected budgets continue to place priority focus on funding open, investigator initiated research. CIHR currently invests over half of its budget in this area, and this amount is being increased by $10M annually over five years.

In closing, Governing Council expressed agreement that CIHR, through its various change initiatives and decisions, will be well positioned to continue providing leadership in health research by supporting innovations needed to strengthen Canada's health care system and improve the health of Canadians.

Alain Beaudet, MD, PhD
President of CIHR
On behalf of Governing Council

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