Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI): components

HeLTI is currently comprised of three components and is supported by a related enabling platform.

Canadian Interdisciplinary DOHaD Teams - Implications for Men, Women, Boys and Girls

The goal of the interdisciplinary teams is to improve health through an increased understanding of how biological, social and environmental exposures impact human health and development. Each multi-disciplinary team engages both basic and social scientists, and includes a focus on sex and gender outcomes. By supporting multi-disciplinary research teams that focus on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) research, CIHR is building capacity in the DOHaD field. In addition, the teams are encouraged to consider the ultimate policy implications of their research.

Five teams were funded in April 2016.

HeLTI Linked International Intervention Cohorts

Through a unique research collaboration between Canada, China, India, South Africa and the World Health Organization (WHO), HeLTI is supporting the development of Linked International Intervention Cohorts. Playing a key leadership role, Canada (through CIHR) will be a full partner in every cohort developed, with Canadian researchers engaged in all aspects of the study.

Three joint teams that span basic science to public health research have been established - each with a lead researcher from Canada and a lead researcher from the participating country. In each country, the team is working to establish an intervention cohort composed of a representative sample of the target population. Together, the cohorts will implement prospective interventions focused on risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). To foster meaningful integration of sex and gender, teams have identified a sex and gender champion who will ensure that where appropriate, both males and females are included in studies and that sex and/or gender considerations are taken into account.

The interdisciplinary teams are supported by joint funding from CIHR, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Department of Biotechnology of India, and the Medical Research Council of South Africa. This international collaboration will enable comparative analysis of interventions, harmonized data, assessment of biological mechanisms and biological-environmental interactions in different populations, as well as sharing of expertise. It is this collaborative approach that will allow HeLTI to have greater impact than if studies were implemented as single-country projects.

The following diagram illustrates the design of the Linked International Intervention Cohorts (LIIC):

Long description

The components of the HeLTI LIIC Governance: The HeLTI Council provides oversight to the initiative and comprises the decision makers from the partner funding agencies; The cohorts (India, China, South Africa and Canada) are supported by a Secretariat that convenes the HeLTI governance committees and technical activities and an Office that provides the administrative support for data management.

HeLTI Canadian Cohort

In addition to the International cohorts, a HeLTI Interventional Cohort has also been funded in Canada. This intervention cohort aligns with the HeLTI LIIC as well as administratively supporting the HeLTI Office. This will further enhance the ability of the HeLTI LIIC collaboration to impact policy development and decision making in Canada, as well as globally.

WHO Secretariat

The WHO Secretariat provides scientific and technical support, advice and quality assurance to the various HeLTI governance bodies in order to optimize the collaboration and synergize the scientific activities of the Linked International Intervention Cohort Component of the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative.

Enabling Platform: Canadian DOHaD Cohort Registry

The Canadian DOHaD Cohort Registry is an enabling platform of HeLTI that aims to create a Registry of DOHaD cohort studies that will provide a database of metadata and definition of variables from all relevant Canadian cohorts, thereby linking them in a way that facilitates larger and better powered studies.

The Research Advancement through Cohort Cataloguing and Harmonization (ReACH) project is developing a registry of Canadian cohorts that are using a DOHaD approach. Designed to be a national resource to facilitate cohort translational research, the goal of ReACH is to foster and enhance the use of data and biological samples collected by Canadian DOHaD cohorts. ReACH will enhance Canada’s position as an international leader in big science and large-scale collaborations, as well as enable the research community to better share data across cohorts to address increasingly complex health research challenges.

Established in April 2016, ReACH will act as a platform for the HeLTI initiative, allowing researchers to build upon it and utilize it as a template for harmonization.

The DOHaD registry was funded in April 2016.

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