CIHR governing council creates 13 health research institutes

By Press Release, CIHR, July 25, 2000

Ottawa, July 25, 2000  Minister of Health, Allan Rock, and the president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Alan Bernstein, announced today the creation of 13 health research institutes that will bring together, in a virtual way, researchers that are widely separated by geography and discipline, to focus on issues that affect the health of Canadians.

Research institutes will be created in the areas of:

* Aboriginal people's health;

* circulatory and respiratory health;

* cancer research;

* gender and health;

* genetics;

* health services and policy research;

* healthy aging;

* human development, child and youth health;

* infection and immunity;

* neurosciences, mental health and addiction;

* musculoskeletal health and arthritis;

* nutrition, metabolism and diabetes; and,

* population and public health.

The institutes will focus on emerging health issues where researchers
across Canada, in all disciplines of health, will be challenged to find solutions to problems that face Canadians. Each institute will be led by a scientific director with the advice of institute advisory boards representing the researchers associated with each institute and other Canadians with an interest in the aims of the institute.

"Through these institutes, researchers will contribute their combined
expertise in multidisciplinary approaches to understand the biological, social, economic, psychological, and environmental determinants of health," said the minister. "This research will lead to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of disease, new approaches to therapy and prevention, and the development of the best approaches to deliver this new knowledge to Canadians whether they live in the north, the inner city or in rural areas."

"The concept of these virtual institutes is uniquely Canadian," stated Bernstein. "Scientific directors will be guided by an advisory group of Canadians and international experts and supported by the best researchers wherever they conduct their work in Canada or abroad."

Consider diabetes, which affects tens of thousands of Canadians and their families, particularly within Canada's aboriginal population. Its economic cost to Canada is estimated to be in excess of $25 billion a year. Working together, several institutes could develop a broad, multidisciplinary research agenda to address diabetes.

Biomedical researchers would examine the molecular mechanisms of the
disease, while clinical researchers would look at what treatments are most effective. Health services researchers would develop models for providing the best possible care to people with diabetes, while researchers into the health of populations would assess factors relative to diet, environment or socioeconomic status that may contribute to diabetes or its devastating complications.

"Bringing an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to health problems such as diabetes will fuel the engine of scientific discovery and accelerate the translation of this new knowledge into better care and quality of life for Canadians," added Bernstein.

Recruitment of scientific directors and institute advisory board members begins immediately. It is anticipated that the governing council of CIHR will approve these appointments and confirm institute operations in the coming months.

The selection of these 13 institutes was made by the current governing
council following a broad consultative process with the voluntary sector, universities, hospitals, governments and the private sector, culminating in advice provided by the interim governing council of CIHR.

CIHR's current budget is $365 million. It will grow to $475 million in
2001-2002, double the funding received from government in 1997-1998.

CIHR is Canada's major federal funding agency for health research. Its
objective is to excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and a strengthened health care system.