BHCIA Research Initiative: About
The CIHR Dementia Research Strategy (DRS) – precursor to the BHCIA Research Initiative - was created in 2009 by CIHR to support research on the latest preventive, diagnostic and treatment approaches to Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases causing dementia. An important outcome of the DRS was the creation of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) in 2014.
The DRS underwent a program evaluation in 2018. The evaluation addressed issues related to the relevance, design and delivery, and performance of both the national and international components of the DRS and offered recommendations to improve the program. A key recommendation was to continue to invest strategically in dementia research, including supporting the research and innovation needs of the National Dementia Strategy, which was launched by the Government of Canada in 2019.
In autumn 2020, CIHR-IA embarked on an extensive consultation and engagement process to assess the changes in dementia research since the inception of the DRS, including identifying future research themes and needs that should be included in the development of a new major research initiative. These conversations inspired the development of the Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment in Aging (BHCIA) Research Initiative. This new initiative was operationalized by the announcement in Budget 2022 to allocate $20 million to CIHR over five years, starting in 2022-23. Complementary funding was secured from CIHR and external partners, raising the total to over $38M. With this additional funding, CIHR will ramp up efforts to learn more about dementia and brain health in aging, improve treatment and outcomes for persons living with dementia, and evaluate and address mental health consequences for caregivers and different models of care. This new research initiative will build on the investments made through CIHR's DRS while evolving our program of research to meet the new needs and current trends in brain health and dementia research.
Areas of focus
The BHCIA Research Initiative will support research across the continuum from the healthy aging brain, to cognitive impairment and care for those impacted by dementia, as well as the wellbeing of their caregivers. New scientific knowledge generated by this investment will be shared widely with patients and their families, health care professionals, and policy- and decision-makers, through workshops, webinars, briefings, outreach campaigns, and other knowledge mobilization activities.
Goals and cross cutting components
Through the BHCIA Research Initiative, CIHR will support research focusing on three main research areas: risk reduction; care and support; and, care providers and caregivers, in order to address three overarching goals:
- Create knowledge about resilience in brain aging, identify and reduce risks that could result in cognitive impairment, and mobilize knowledge to change approaches to brain health.
- Improve care, programs and services for people with cognitive impairment and dementia.
- Develop, evaluate, and implement strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of caregivers and care providers.
The BHCIA Research Initiative will also embed three cross-cutting components:
- Train the next generation of researchers working on brain health and cognitive impairment in aging.
- Mobilize knowledge for impactful uptake of research outcomes with an emphasis on health equity and Indigenous Rights.
- Foster, support and lead collaborations and partnerships and engage stakeholders in the delivery of evidence-informed solutions.
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