posted on Oct. 12: 32 health sciences research projects in spotlight


Thirty-two projects funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and covering the spectrum of health research — biomedical, clinical, health services and population health — were cause for celebration yesterday.

Heritage Minister Sheila Copps and Hamilton West MP Stan Keyes joined John Kelton, Faculty of Health Sciences dean and vice-president and John Capone, the Faculty's associate dean of research in marking the CIHR's $13 million investment in health sciences research in the Hamilton area this year.

The McMaster projects, involving 30 researchers, will take place during the next three to five years.

Of particular note, researchers Mark Loeb and Brian Hutchison will lead two of 29 large scale CIHR multi-disciplinary team projects awarded across Canada.

Loeb's team  comprised of 21 investigators from 7 institutions  will examine respiratory infections in older Canadians from a variety of perspectives. This $2.2 million study will develop novel health promotion strategies, offer important insights to policy makers, help guide seniors and their caregivers to make optimal use of the healthcare system and help healthcare planners improve upon existing practises.

Hutchison's team  comprised of 11 investigators and 7 partner organizations  will focus on the organization and delivery of community health and social support services. This $1.3 million study will generate new knowledge in the field of community care, build research and evaluation capacity, stimulate collaboration and upgrade the skills of community care workers.

Averaging 20 researchers per team, these new multi-disciplinary projects bring together researchers from all disciplines of health to find answers to questions in a wide array of health issues such as health promotion, childhood injuries, community genetics, chronic illness in rural communities, addiction and colorectal cancer.

“The CIHR dream is becoming a reality at an astonishing pace,” said Capone, who is the University's CIHR delegate.

“This year alone Canadian researchers reported several health breakthroughs in diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Through CIHR we will be able to build upon these discoveries, continuing Canada's role as an important player in the health research revolution.”

Kelton, who said CIHR funding is helping to reverse “brain-drain”, said, “With this funding, CIHR is making immeasurable contributions to Canada's health research initiatives. I am extremely proud of McMaster's deserving researchers. Our scientists are doing phenomenal work in a wide variety of disciplines, and their efforts coupled with CIHR's funding will pay big dividends to the city of Hamilton and the world.”

The year-old CIHR has moved to fulfil its mandate since it was formed in June 2000, creating 13 virtual institutes, appointing scientific directors to run them, selecting 218 volunteers to guide the institutes and providing funding to more than 5,000 established researchers and thousands of trainees across Canada.

Further funding opportunities will be available for health researchers later this year through the CIHR Institute's strategic initiatives that will aim to fill research gaps and build capacity across Canada.