Review of the Institute of Aging
About the Review
The review of the Institute of Aging (IA) assessed the relevance and performance of the Institute to support CIHR’s Governing Council’s responsibilities regarding the role and functioning of the Institute, and meet requirements of the Policy on Results. The review was completed by CIHR in 2018-19 and overseen by an independent panel of experts in the Institute’s mandate areas (IA Review Panel) who reviewed and interpreted the findings and made the final recommendations.
What is an Institute?
CIHR currently integrates research through a unique interdisciplinary structure made up of 13 "virtual" institutes. CIHR's Institutes bring together researchers, health professionals and policy-makers from voluntary health organizations, provincial government agencies, international research organizations and industry and patient groups from across the country to focus on important health problems. The Institute's virtual structure encourages partnership and collaboration across sectors, disciplines and regions. Each Institute is dedicated to a specific area of focus, linking and supporting researchers pursuing common goals.
IA’s mandate is to support research, to promote healthy aging; and to address causes, prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, support systems, and palliation for a wide range of conditions associated with aging.
Results and Recommendations
The Panel highlighted the effort of IA during the leadership of the Scientific Director (SD), Dr. Joanette, to accomplish its mandate. Given the broad and unique scope of its mandate, IA has worked collaboratively with other Institutes and organizations to address its strategic directions and priorities.
- Recommendation 1: The Panel recommends framing IA’s mandate with an approach of aging that reflects the potential and opportunity of aging, as well as the unique and positive contributions of older people.
- Recommendation 2: The Panel recommends that IA continue developing and implementing an inclusive approach to aging research that incorporates intersectional, interdisciplinary, and intersectorial aspects at both individual and societal levels, recognizing the importance of emerging areas, such as sensory and cognitive issues, big data, and geroscience.
- Recommendation 3: The Panel recommends IA continue to consider the impact and highlight the importance of health equity, health access, the social determinants of health, co-morbidities, and the increasing diversity of the aging population in the funding of research in aging to improve the health of aging Canadians (e.g., health promotion/prevention, mobility in aging, social and community engagement, loneliness, active aging, aging in place) and increase the effectiveness of health services and products, and the Canadian health care system.
IA implemented a number of capacity building activities to maintain and strengthen research capacity in its mandate.
- Recommendation 4: The Panel recommends that IA continue to develop innovative initiatives to build capacity at the various career stages with a focus on early and mid-career researchers to support the next generation of aging researchers.
- Recommendation 5: The Panel recommends that IA continue to build capacity to translate and mobilize knowledge and technologies to clinicians, policy makers, businesses, and the public to develop more effective products, practices, policies and services, and improve the health care system and health of Canadians.
Given the cross-cutting nature of aging research, the Panel sees it as critical that CIHR’s funding within IA’s mandate should be spread across the four research pillars
- Recommendation 6: The Panel recommends that CIHR continue to fund aging research across all four CIHR research pillars, ensure there are review panels with a focus and expertise in aging, and maintain the current proportion of funding to approximately 70% investigator-initiated research and 30% research in priority areas to address the crosscutting nature of aging research and to capitalize on emerging research opportunities.
The Panel recognizes the current SD’s strong ability to engage, collaborate, and partner with a wide range of stakeholders.
- Recommendation 7: The Panel recommends that IA maintain its scientific leadership role for the CLSA and the DRS, while remaining inclusive of and attentive to the broader aging research community not connected to these initiatives.
- Recommendation 8: The Panel recommends that the next SD continue to engage with and support the broad aging research community to both maintain and expand partnerships between researchers, funding agencies, knowledge users, the health portfolio organizations, health charities and the private sector at the national and international levels to position Canadian aging researchers as leaders and innovators.
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