Contextualizing the Personalized Health Catalyst Grant for the Population and Public Health Community

Dear colleagues,

Have you seen CIHR’s Personalized Health Catalyst Grants funding opportunity? Although it may not at first appear especially applicable to population and public health research, I encourage you to consider whether it may actually fit your research area, especially given the huge number of grants that will be funded ($8,200,000, enough to fund approximately 41 grants at $100,000 per year for up to two years).

Important dates

Registration deadline 2017-02-14
Application deadline 2017-06-13
Anticipated notice of decision 2017-09-2
Funding start date 2017-09-01

Although the more obvious focus of this funding opportunity is the development of novel ehealth apps aimed at collecting individual-level clinical information, these apps could also be used to build databases and data infrastructures including information on population level factors such as socio-cultural data. For example, individual-level data on presence of disease, disease progression and/or treatment outcomes could be used to measure disease prevalence by population sub-groups, to better understand underlying causes of disease, evaluate population health outcomes and identify health disparities across populations.

Here are some population and public health research ideas related to this funding opportunity’s priority areas:

Development of novel ehealth apps in the field of personalized medicine in partnership with a health information technology vendor (see Eligibility for partner criteria) for end-users to improve patient empowerment and facilitate shared decision-making
Data gathered with ehealth apps could be used to understand the distribution of risk factors in the population (e.g., people with hypertension, people with elevated glucose) by indicators such as age, sex, gender, geography, ethnicity and income. This, in turn, can help target the underlying causes of the biological markers/outcomes.

Development of predictive analytic models that can stratify patients by expected outcome and risk
There are opportunities here to link and combine data from many sources and sectors. This aligns well with population and public health underpinnings: intersectoral interventions and “health in all policies” approaches that in turn require data from a variety of sources – from clinical, to environmental, to sociodemographic, and so on. As such, initiatives like this one that enable data linkage and harmonization across diverse datasets have great value for population and public health research.

The registration deadline is fast approaching, but don’t let that deter you. It’s very straightforward.

By February 14, you only need:

  • identified participants
  • overview information, including a title, lay title and lay abstract
  • proposal information details (i.e. primary location where research is conducted, certification requirements, gender (social-cultural) research design considerations brief description or explanation)
  • proposal descriptors

While IPPH is not directly participating in this funding opportunity, I’m excited by its potential to support some kinds of population and public health research. I hope you consider submitting an application.


Steven J. Hoffman JD PhD LLD
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health
Director, Global Strategy Lab, and
Associate Professor of Law, University of Ottawa

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