CIHR now official as new governing council unveiled under leadership of Alan Bernstein

Guest Contributor
June 9, 2000

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) reached another milestone this week with its official launch and the introduction of its inaugural governing council (GC). The event marking the most dramatic shift in health research funding in recent history took place in a crowded cafeteria of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, with ministers Alan Rock (Health Canada) and John Manley (Industry Canada) in attendance. Although long on ceremony and short on detail, it nevertheless served to highlight the quantum shift in Ottawa's attitude towards the health research enterprise that has occurred over the past three years.

Led by Dr Alan Bernstein, the new GC is heavily weighted towards the academic sector and contains at least one representative from each province. It will immediately begin the sensitive task of selecting the areas of health research that will constitute the first round of Institutes, which are due to be operational by the fall.

Those Institutes will be responsible for spending an ever increasing health research budget which now comprises the funding of the former Medical Research Council and new monies devoted to CIHR. In this FY, the budget is $402 million and rises to $533 million in FY01-02. The ultimate goal is to secure annual health research funding equal to 1% of GDP, or approximately $1 billion.

The challenge facing the new CIHR cannot be underestimated. For the first time, research administrators are compelled to approach their collective task, in the words of Bernstein, "from molecules to populations" spanning basic biomedical research to health services delivery. The four identified areas of inquiry are biomedical, clinical, health systems and services and population health.

Of the $65 million budgeted for CIHR this year, $58 million is being directed toward studentships, fellowships and salaries for more than 400 researchers over three to five years. Another $6.7 million will go to the Health Career Awards Program, jointly funded by the National Health Research and Development Program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The occasion was also used to announce an annual research scholarship for young researchers named in honour of Dr Dorothy Lamont, vice chair of the Interim Governing Council. The joint CIHR-National Cancer Institute of Canada program will provide five-year scholarships in the area of cancer control. Lamont is currently battling breast cancer and was unable to attend.



Dr Alan BernsteinCIHR president
Dr Denise AlcockUniv of Ottawa
Dr Stephanie AtkinsonMcMaster Univ
Dr Ruth Collins-NakalCanadian Cardiovascular Society
Dr Alastair CribbUniv of Prince Edward Island
Dr Jean DavidsonClinical Research Institute of Montreal
Dr Gary GlavinUniv of Manitoba
Dr Philippe GrosMcGill Univ
Mavis HurleyPremier's Health Quality Council of New Brunswick
Dr Nuala KennyDalhousie Univ
Dr Kevin KeoughMemorial Univ of Newfoundland
Dr Malcolm KingUniv of Alberta
Steven LewisAccess Consulting Ltd
Dr Victor LingUniv of British Columbia
Eric MaldoffHeenan Blaikie
Dr Yves MorinHealth Canada Health Protection Branch
Dr Louise NadeauUniv of Montreal
Dr David NaylorUniv of Toronto
Dr Joseph RotmanClairvest Group
David Dodge (Ex Officio)DM Health Canada

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