Update and LOI deadline extension for CIHR’s Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grants

Dear colleagues,

As you may have seen, the Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grants funding opportunity – which represents the largest investment through CIHR’s Healthy Cities Research Initiative (HCRI) – launched on May 18, 2021. Originally slated for a year earlier, COVID-19 delayed our plans as CIHR mobilized to address the threat of the pandemic.

COVID-19 has further demonstrated the value in understanding what makes cities healthy, for whom, and why. Urban areas experienced 90% of Canada’s COVID-19 cases and so many of the negative impacts of public health measures on the economy, employment and education. While many of CIHR’s planned strategic funding opportunities in 2020 were paused, we continued to reach out to partners, emphasizing the importance of urban intervention research and implementation science to help us improve health and well-being, build resilience, and fast-track a more equitable recovery from the pandemic.

The Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grants were always meant to be the largest investment made through the HCRI at $18,450,000. Fortunately, with the benefit of extra time, we have been able to further grow this investment with an unprecedent $9 million contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Healthy Canadians & Communities Fund. This investment represents the first time that PHAC and CIHR have ever simultaneously funded both the implementation of proven interventions (PHAC) and their evaluation (CIHR) through a single integrated competition and peer review process. We hope this opportunity for researchers and their partners to apply for up to an additional $3 million from PHAC’s Healthy Canadians & Communities Fund will enable even more rigorous study designs than would be possible when researchers are not directly involved in the design and implementation of urban interventions.

Furthermore, our colleagues at the National Health & Medical Research Council in Australia have launched a parallel $4,665,900 ($5,000,000 AUD) funding opportunity to support Australian teams to partner with Canadian teams applying to the HCRI Implementation Science Team Grants funding opportunity. This funding is meant to enable the comparison of urban interventions on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Given the recent addition of this component, we have extended the deadline for Letter of Intent applications. Applicants now have until October 13, 2021 to submit their proposals.

The new total investment of $32,115,900 will support six research teams to study the implementation of interventions in multiple urban areas to better understand what works in cities for promoting health, for whom, and why. This funding opportunity has public health values at its core. The emphasis on upstream prevention and equitable outcomes strives to ensure that those facing conditions of marginalization are prioritized in this initiative.

With this opportunity, the objectives of the CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health’s (IPPH) Healthy Cities Research priority area are largely accomplished. The Healthy Cities Research Training Platform as well as our Housing & Health and Health System Impact Fellowships were designed to train future researchers in implementation science for healthy cities [Objective #2]. To support evidence use in urban planning and policymaking [Objective #3], we launched the immersive urban policy workshopApplied Public Health Chair on Sex, Gender & Healthy Cities, and hosted numerous events and workshops. Finally, our efforts to strengthen Canada’s global leadership in healthy cities research [Objective #1] started with issuing smaller awards over 4 years – including planning grants and partnership development grants ­– and continues with the current Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grants funding opportunity. We’re also working to advocate for healthy cities research internationally which has led to the pre-announcement of a 2022 funding opportunity from the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases focused on interventions in urban environments to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.

Of course, our work is not over. The HCRI will continue to launch and relaunch targeted funding opportunities for another couple of years and work to create opportunities for collaboration and networking, ultimately building a community of practice around intervention research and implementation science in urban environments. As for IPPH, this Fall 2021 we will be entering a new phase of strategic planning where we refresh our goals and identify the best opportunities to build on our past work. I look forward to sharing more in the coming months.



Steven J. Hoffman JD PhD LLD | @shoffmania
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health
Director, Global Strategy Lab, and
Professor of Global Health, Law, and Political Science, York University

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