Message from the Scientific Director: Spring Update 2024

Dear colleagues,

I began my term as Scientific Director of the Institute on April 1st. It is an honour and privilege to be representing Canadian researchers through ICRH. It is a great pleasure to work with this outstanding organization and some of the best scientists and corporate leaders in the country. We have much to be proud of.

I am enthusiastic about all I have to learn. Thank you to all of you who have already reached out to me by offering advice and support in my first few weeks in this new position. I believe that our organization can be a flagship for the intersectoral research mandates that will achieve sustainable health for all Canadians. I am most grateful to the colleagues who make up our team in Alberta, Ottawa, and Montreal for all their outstanding work. I look forward to the opportunity to meet the other Scientific Directors with whom I will be collaborating closely to set research priorities and to inform decisions relating to strategic funding initiatives.

I was welcomed at the April meeting for CIHR Science Council, the scientific committee responsible for the development, implementation, and reporting of CIHR's research and knowledge translation strategy. This was an exciting time as our federal budget was released on April 16th. Budget 2024 proposes to provide $1.8 billion over five years to CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC. Fostering the next generation of research talent, $825 million over five years is proposed to support master’s and doctoral student scholarships. Over the next three years, $30 million is proposed to enrich Indigenous health research, with designated funds for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit partners. To help guide research priorities moving forward, Budget 2024 also announced the creation of an Advisory Council on Science and Innovation. This committee will be composed of leaders from the academic, industry, and not-for-profit sectors. It will be responsible for increasing the impact of these significant federal investments.

Recent activities have already been numerous. CIHR recently hosted an end-of-grant workshop for the research teams funded through the Understanding Health Impacts of Inactivity Operating Grants, the first component of the Transitions in Care Initiative where we heard preliminary research results and feedback from the research teams around strengths and areas for growth. Thank you to our Institute partners, the Canadian Space Agency and the Canadian Frailty Network for your participation and support.

I attended the very promising annual meeting for the Global Cardiovascular Research Funders’ Forum (GCRFF) in Toronto alongside other ICRH colleagues. Twelve participating funders from the United States, the United Kingdom, and from across Europe discussed joint initiatives across workstreams focusing on international clinical trials, data sharing, and international research priorities in cardiovascular disease.

The RENASCENT Training Workshop was a great success! ICRH enjoyed participating in this capacity development event for trainees and new investigators in the respiratory community. Following that activity, I attended the Canadian Respiratory Conference, and was so pleased to honour our 2024 mid-career and distinguished lecturer awardees.

We recently held our first Institute Advisory Board meeting of 2024, officially welcoming our four newest members, Drs. Ejaife Agbani, Kerstin de Wit, Indra Narang, and Nishita Singh. Our next meeting is scheduled to be held at the beginning of June.

Congratulations to the award recipients of our most recent strategic funding opportunities:

ICRH has begun planning for an upcoming Knowledge Exchange Tour to share perspectives and feedback with individuals in our mandate. We welcome the participation of trainees, researchers, policymakers, people with lived and/or living experience, community partners, and industry. Stay tuned for further news to come!

Kind regards,

Dr. Ariane Marelli
Scientific Director
CIHR Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health

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