Canadian Institutes of Health Research Profile

June 03, 2024

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Established at the turn of the millennium, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is Canada’s premier agency dedicated to funding health research.

The CIHR operates through a distinctive interdisciplinary structure consisting of 13 “virtual” institutes, designed to foster multidisciplinary and integrative research efforts. These institutes do not have physical locations; instead, they function as networks connecting researchers from various universities, hospitals, and research centers who are focused on significant health challenges.

Each of the 13 institutes is led by a Scientific Director, and supported through the advice of Institute Advisory Boards (IABs). Unconstrained by bricks and mortar, the CIHR’s virtual structure encourages partnership and collaboration across sectors, disciplines and regions.

Here is a list of the 13 institutes:

Institute Code

Institute Name

Focus Area

IA

Institute of Aging

Research on aging, lifespan, and associated health conditions

ICR

Institute of Cancer Research

Comprehensive cancer research across various types

ICRH

Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health

Health issues related to the circulatory and respiratory systems

IGH

Institute of Gender and Health

Effects of gender and sex on health and illness

IG

Institute of Genetics

Genetic influences on health, including hereditary diseases

IHSPR

Institute of Health Services and Policy Research

Health policy development and service delivery improvements

IHDCYH

Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health

Health issues affecting children, youth, and their development

III

Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health

Research on infectious diseases and the immune system

IIPH

Institute of Infection and Immunity

Health challenges and solutions for Indigenous populations

IMHA

Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis

Disorders of the musculoskeletal system and skin

INMHA

Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

Research on neurological, mental health, and addictive disorders

INMD

Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism, and Diabetes

Research on dietary impacts, metabolic processes, and diabetes

IPPH

Institute of Population and Public Health

Studies on population health and public health practices

Explore collaborative opportunities and additional resources for each institute.

CIHR’s Research Priorities

Indigenous Health Research

Recognizing the distinct health challenges faced by Indigenous populations in Canada, CIHR has established the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health. This institute is committed to advancing research that enhances the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples through culturally relevant methods. This is an area of significant interest, particularly for researchers focused on health disparities and culturally sensitive health interventions. Explore the range of Indigenous initiatives and programs available at CIHR.

Aging and Chronic Diseases

As the global population ages, research into aging and chronic diseases becomes increasingly pertinent. CIHR invests significantly in studies exploring the aging process, age-related illnesses, and long-term health management, which is crucial for researchers specializing in geriatrics and chronic disease management. Delve into discussions on anti-aging research and share insights on current and emerging trends.

Digital Health and Innovation

CIHR is at the forefront of funding research in digital health innovations. In the 2023 federal budget, Canada invested close to $200 billion over 10 years to support the Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians Plan. As part of that budget, $505 million was provided to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHR) and Canada Health Infoway and federal data partners to work with provinces and territories to improve digital health tools, develop new health data indicators, and support the use of data to improve safety and quality of care. For researchers in health informatics, AI, and telemedicine, CIHR’s focus on digital health provides a fertile ground for cutting-edge research. Learn more about funding opportunities, partnerships, and grants.

Infectious Diseases and Pandemic Preparedness

In response to global health threats such as COVID-19, CIHR prioritizes research on infectious diseases and improving Canada’s readiness for future pandemics. Since March 2020, CIHR has allocated approximately $414 million to 965 COVID-19 research projects, encompassing vaccine development, antiviral therapies, and studies on disease transmission. This area is crucial for researchers in fields such as virology, immunology, epidemiology, and public health. Join the conversation on pandemic preparedness and connect with experts in the field.

Funding Opportunities & Prizes

One of the most compelling aspects of CIHR for scholars and researchers worldwide is its diverse range of funding opportunities.

Project Grants

The Project Grants Program is designed to support researchers at all stages of their careers in conducting health research projects that advance the knowledge base in the field. These highly competitive grants focus on projects with clear objectives and defined timelines, aiming to generate new knowledge that impacts health, health systems, and health outcomes.

For researchers investigating in specific health-related questions, these grants may cover basic research, clinical studies, or research on health systems and services.

CIHR typically holds two Project Grant competitions per year, offering researchers multiple opportunities to secure funding. Although the application periods for the 2023 Fall and 2024 Spring grants have already closed, researchers can stay informed about future competition deadlines and explore related resources on Peeref.

Strategic Initiative Funding

Strategic Initiative Funding targets specific health research areas that CIHR identifies as priorities. These initiatives often involve collaboration with partners from other sectors, including other government departments, health charities, and international health organizations. The goal is to allocate funding towards significant health challenges where coordinated research efforts can make a substantial impact. Areas of strategic focus may include aging, Indigenous health, mental health, infectious diseases, and digital health innovations. Funding usually involves special calls for proposals and is awarded based on alignment with CIHR’s strategic goals and collaboration with its partners.

CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Gold Leaf Prizes represent some of the highest honors for achievements in health sciences in Canada. Launched to recognize and celebrate exceptional contributions to health research and its application to improving the health of Canadians, these prestigious awards underscore the excellence and impact of health research across Canada. These prizes cover achievements across all pillars of research (biomedical, clinical, health services and policy, and population and public health) and will be awarded every two years.

The Gold Leaf Prizes are awarded in four distinct categories, each reflecting a critical area of health research impact:

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Impact: Awarded to an individual or team for health research with a proven impact on health outcomes, practices, policies and/or on the health system.

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Discovery: Awarded to an individual or team whose research findings are unique, inspirational, and break new ground, significantly influencing knowledge in their field.

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Outstanding Achievements by an Early Career Investigator: Awarded to an investigator at the beginning of their career who shows great potential and is expected to continue to produce research of exceptional merit.

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Transformation: Awarded for transformative leadership in a given CIHR priority area.

Training and Career Development

CIHR is committed to nurturing the next generation of health researchers through various awards and fellowships for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and health professionals.

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, for instance, provide substantial support to top national and international postdoctoral candidates contributing to Canada’s economic, social, and research-based growth. Check out more about the research field and the deadline for application for the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, valued at $50,000 annually for up to three years during doctoral studies, target PhD students demonstrating leadership and high scholarly achievement in health sciences, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, or humanities. Save this scholarship information for future reference and discover professional tips for crafting an impeccable grant proposal.

These prestigious scholarships aim to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by offering significant financial support, enhancing the capabilities and leadership in health research, especially appealing to early-career researchers and scholars globally looking to advance their skills and expertise.

International Collaborations

CIHR recognizes the importance of international collaboration in advancing health research. It actively participates in global research consortia and partnerships, offering Canadian researchers a platform to engage with and contribute to international health research projects.

United States

CIHR collaborates with several U.S. institutions and funding bodies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These collaborations often focus on joint research projects, workshops, and funding initiatives that cover a wide range of health topics, including chronic diseases, cancer research, and neurosciences.

European Union

CIHR participates in collaborations with various EU countries through the Horizon 2020 program, which is the EU’s key funding program for research and innovation. These collaborations involve large-scale partnerships in areas like personalized medicine, infectious diseases, and aging.

China

CIHR has partnered with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to fund joint research projects in areas like respiratory health, cardiovascular diseases, and bioinformatics.

India

In collaboration with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India, CIHR has supported research initiatives focused on global health challenges such as maternal, reproductive, child, and adolescent health.

Australia

CIHR has engaged in collaborations with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia, focusing on joint funding of research projects in areas like indigenous health, clinical research, and aging.

Brazil

Partnerships with Brazil have been facilitated through agreements with Brazilian funding agencies such as the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). These collaborations have focused on public health, infectious diseases, and mental health research.

Sub-Saharan Africa

CIHR supports various initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria through collaborations with local research institutions and international funding bodies like the Global Fund.

Successful Projects and Impact Stories

POWER Project: Led by Dr. Kim Raine, the POWER (Promoting Optimal Weights through Ecological Research) project was funded by CIHR and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. This project focuses on preventing obesity and chronic diseases through community-based interventions and policy advocacy, demonstrating a social change-based approach to health promotion.

University of British Columbia (UBC): School of Population and Public Health researchers (SPPH) are among the UBC awardees of funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant: Fall 2023 competition. A total of 46 projects led by UBC researchers were awarded $31.3 million in combined funding. The projects address key health challenges including cancer, respiratory health, osteoarthritis and more. Some of the SPPH-led projects are:

  • “How far is too far?” Creating an evidence base to support safe provision of medication abortion for people living far from emergency services, by Wendy Norman; Bonnie Henry; Sarah Munro
  • Using locally developed computer-assisted detection to promote social justice for a population with a high burden of lung disease: A participatory equity-sensitive approach, by Jerry Spiegel
  • The Cedar Project: Strengthening Our Spirit Intervention for Indigenous peoples who use drugs in Vancouver, BC, by Patricia Spittal
  • Advancing research excellence and building capacity for equity in Canada’s global health research ecosystem, by Katrina M. Plamondon
  • Investigating altered sensorimotor processing in Huntington disease, by Lynn A. Raymond
Organizational Spotlight: The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Organizational Spotlight: The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Organizational Spotlight: The European Research Commission (ERC)
Organizational Spotlight: The European Research Commission (ERC)
Organizational Spotlight: The Fulbright Program
Organizational Spotlight: The Fulbright Program
Organizational Spotlight: UK Research and Innovation
Organizational Spotlight: UK Research and Innovation
Funding Spotlight: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)
Funding Spotlight: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

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