Review of the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health
About the Review
The review of the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (ICRH) 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 2019 and overseen by an independent panel of experts in the Institute’s mandate areas (ICRH 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.
ICRH’s mandate is to support research into the causes, mechanisms, prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, support systems, and palliation for a wide range of conditions associated with the heart, lung, brain (stroke), blood, blood vessels, critical care, and sleep/circadian rhythm. This includes all research themes: biomedical/basic, clinical, health systems, and policy, and population and public health.
Results and Recommendations
The Panel sees a need for continued investment in ICRH’s mandate given that the burden of disease is significant. The Panel commends the current Scientific Director (SD) and the ICRH team for providing scientific leadership to steward its major investments in research networks to reach a stage where they are building research capacity.
- Recommendation 1: The Panel recommends no changes to ICRH’s current mandate
- Recommendation 2: The Panel recommends that ICRH continue to develop initiatives and activities to achieve the research priorities of its current strategic plan related to enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion in research, and building capacity for early- and mid-career researchers.
Recommendation 3: The Panel recommends that ICRH engage its broad scientific and stakeholder community to update the current strategic plan to enhance its scientific vision and aligning to its core priorities, and identify key emerging areas of research under its mandate.
ICRH’s past investment in research networks was effective at building capacity as well as generating and translating new knowledge into clinical applications.
Recommendation 4: The Panel recommends that ICRH continue to invest in multi-disciplinary research initiatives, such as the Emerging Networks and the Community Development Program, which create and translate new knowledge and show promise to improve the health of Canadians. Given the past financial investment made in these initiatives, the Panel recommends that ICRH propose a plan of action to ensure a “legacy product” to capture and sustain the value (e.g., database, training program) of the currently funded initiatives. Going forward, each new network or program should at the outset, be charged with leaving a ‘legacy product’ that could sustain the value of the initiative into the future.
The Panel commends Dr. Rowe and ICRH for their unique ability to both engage and respond to the needs of researchers, trainees, the broader stakeholder community and Canadians.
Recommendation 5: The Panel strongly recommends that the current Scientific Director be renewed.
ICRH has demonstrated leadership with respect to Indigenous Health Research (IHR) at CIHR.
Recommendation 6: Given ICRH’s commitment to Indigenous Health Research, health equity and mentorship, the Panel recommends that training activities provided by ICRH should continue to include substantive decolonized and decolonizing training on Indigenous People and their health.
The Panel sees a pressing need for ICRH to use its ability to convene key stakeholders to identify interests and needs, and to form a stakeholder alliance.
Recommendation 7: The Panel recommends that ICRH leverage its convening power to raise awareness of the disease burden and importance of research in ICRH’s mandate with key health system stakeholders and to initiate and catalyze an alliance of its broad researcher and stakeholder community.
The Panel observed that CIHR should consider factors such as size of research community and burden of disease when allocating its budget resources in the future.
- Recommendation 8: Given ICRH’s available budget and the burden of disease within its mandate, the Panel recommends that CIHR, as part of the ongoing Institute Support Optimization Project, dedicate an Ottawa-based CIHR staff resource to enhance support for and coordination of ICRH research initiatives within CIHR.
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