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CIHR Background

Why are we engaging Canadians? 

Health is a vitally important issue to all of us. In fact, as Canadians, we consistently rank health and health care among our top priorities. Canada’s health researchers are among the country’s greatest assets and they play an integral role in improving the lives of patients and families across the country. Next year, for example, we will be celebrating 100 years of insulin – a Canadian discovery that forever changed the lives of countless people throughout the world. Today, Canada’s health research community is stronger and more diverse than ever before, and our researchers continue to develop innovations in all areas to improve the health of Canadians and strengthen our health care and public health systems.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) believes this is the right time to develop a national dialogue on the future of health research in Canada. We are seeking your experience and expertise as we work towards a new Strategic Plan in the summer of 2020. Please join us in this collective effort to define a vision for Canada’s health research funding ecosystem – a vision that would allow us to create a healthier future for Canadians.

As a first step, we are beginning this engagement process to solicit the views of all interested individuals and groups in Canada to help guide our vision. Based on the lessons learned since the last strategic planning exercise in 2014, CIHR would like to better align its vision with other health research funders in Canada and seek comprehensive input from all stakeholders, including citizens, patients, charities, provincial funders, government departments, researchers, health professionals, trainees, and research administrators. CIHR would also like to develop a longer-term vision in relation to its strategic planning practices. Where do we see the health of Canadians in the year 2050?  How can we all collectively work together to meet such an important generational vision?

We believe that CIHR’s strategic plan should be framed around our commitment to continuous improvement, and based on the premise that by working together as an enterprise, we can help Canada meet future health research challenges and excel on the global stage. In doing so, we are making a commitment to Canadians: we will support health research that will make a difference in their lives and in the lives of their children and grandchildren. As well, we are making a commitment to researchers and research institutions: we will be a fair and dedicated partner that is committed to advancing the health research enterprise. To clinicians and policy-makers who rely on the results of research: we will work together to ensure that research is readily available to assist you in your practice. Finally, to our funding partners, we are committed to working collaboratively to develop a common vision and a connected health research funding ecosystem.

Please note that the engagement period will close on Friday June 28, 2019. We look forward to working collaboratively with you on this important undertaking. 

About us 

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research was created in 2000 under the authority of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Act. It is an independent agency of the Government of Canada and is accountable to Parliament through the Minister of Health. CIHR’s mandate 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 products and a strengthened Canadian health care system.” CIHR was designed to respond to the evolving needs of health research and strives to achieve its mandate by:

  • Funding both investigator initiated research as well as research on strategic priority areas;
  • Building research capacity in under-developed areas and training the next generation of health researchers; and
  • Promoting knowledge translation to enable the application of research results into new policies, practices, procedures, products and services.

CIHR supports all types of knowledge creation, capacity development, and knowledge translation practices across the four pillars of health research:  

Pillar 1. Biomedical Research: research with the goal of understanding normal and abnormal human functioning at the molecular, cellular, organ system, and whole body levels, including development of tools and techniques to be applied for this purpose.

Pillar 2. Clinical Research: research with the goal of improving the diagnosis and treatment (including rehabilitation and palliation) of disease and injury, and improving the health and quality of life of individuals as they pass through normal life stages.

Pillar 3. Health Services Research: research with the goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of health professionals and the health care system through changes to practice and policy.

Pillar 4. Social, Cultural, Environmental, and Population Health Research: research with the goal of improving the health of the population, or of defined sub-populations, through a better understanding of the ways in which social, cultural, environmental, occupational and economic factors determine health status.

At the highest level, CIHR is governed by Governing Council, a group of individuals who are selected based on their unique background and outstanding skill sets and who reflect a range of relevant disciplines. The Governing Council develops CIHR's strategic directions, evaluates CIHR's overall performance, approves CIHR's budget, establishes CIHR Institutes, appoints Scientific Directors to lead Institutes, appoints Institute Advisory Board members, and provides advice to the Minister of Health. CIHR’s overall scientific advice comes from its Science Council, which is comprised of CIHR’s Senior Management (i.e., President and Vice-Presidents) and Institute Scientific Directors. The Science Council reviews all of CIHR’s major funding programs and science-related policies and practices prior to implementation.

The Government of Canada has also created the Canadian Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC), which is comprised of the Presidents of CIHR, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the National Research Council of Canada, along with the Deputy Minister of Health, the Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Chief Science Advisor of Canada. The CRCC oversees a number of joint investments and is mandated to achieve greater harmonization, integration, and coordination of research-related programs and policies and to address issues of common concern among its members.

CIHR Video: Health Research for Canadians 


Title: CIHR Discoveries for Life

Health Research for Canadians

Audio voice over in English by Mireille Khouri, CIHR Public Affairs and French by David Coulombe, CIHR Media Relations and all audio reflects actual text slides and graphic elements within this video.

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Health Research for Canadians

One of the most important investments we can make as a nation

Health research – one of the most important investments we can make as a nation.

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Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

CIHR is using the power of research to improve the health of Canadians, solve health challenges and make our health care system more efficient and effective.

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), what we do is at the heart of what matters the most to you: your health and well-being.

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Health research improves lives

At CIHR, we use the power of health research to save lives, time and money.

Each year, we invest $1 billion to support over 13,000 researchers and trainees.

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$ 1 billion

in annual investments


researchers and trainees

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Best minds

Best ideas

Thinking outside the box


These are the best minds with the best ideas. They think outside the box to find innovative ways to prevent illnesses, reduce pain, fight diseases, and make health care more affordable and efficient. Their research addresses Canadian priorities, such as the needs of an aging population.

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Life Changing

In other words, we invest in research that delivers life-changing impact for Canadians.

Text slide – Institute List:

Aboriginal Peoples’ Health


Cancer Research

Circulatory and Respiratory Health

Gender and Health


Health Services and Policy Research

Human Development, Child and Youth Health

Infection and Immunity

Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis

Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes

Population and Public Health

CIHR is made up of 13 “virtual” institutes. They are virtual centres of expertise in areas such as cancer, diabetes and mental health.

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Peer Review

To ensure we award funding to the very best projects in each of these areas, we bring together experts from across Canada and around the world to evaluate the funding applications we receive.

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At CIHR, we also promote collaboration in research.

Gone are the days of a researcher working alone in a lab. Today, health research is a complex, highly interconnected environment, with many players working in teams, groups and partnerships.

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Health Portfolio Partners

Provinces and Territories

Academic Institutions

Non-Profit Organizations

Private Industries


International Partners

Other Federal Departments and Agencies

Federally-funded Non-Profit Organizations

Federal Granting Agencies

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Health Innovations

Prevention – Innovation - Commercialization

CIHR plays a leadership role in this environment – bringing people together and creating partnerships with over 250 organizations in Canada and around the world. Together, we create innovations that improve the health of Canadians, and commercialize new drugs and medical devices that boost our economy.

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Health Portfolio

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Health Canada

Patented Medicine Prices Review Board

Public Health Agency of Canada

CIHR also works closely with our partners in the health portfolio to ensure that research evidence informs and strengthens public policies.

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Putting Patients First

Of course, health research is only valuable if it moves from the lab to the bedside, for the benefit of patients. Research must put patients first.

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That is why CIHR created the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, or SPOR.

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Provinces and territories



Private sector



Share research evidence

Apply best practices

Health innovations

Improve care

SPOR brings together all the key players in Canada’s health care system: the different levels of government, researchers, clinicians, the private sector, charities, and of course, patients.

Through SPOR, we have brought the provinces and territories together to share research evidence, apply best practices, bring health innovations to the front line and improve care.

For the health care system, SPOR means better decision-making, improved networking, more support for researchers and greater efficiency.

For patients, SPOR means more accurate diagnoses, fewer hospital visits and faster recovery.

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Patients First

Investing in research.

Promoting collaboration.

Putting patients first.

This is how the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is building a healthier society and a healthier world.

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Discoveries for life

CIHR: Discoveries for life

Credit: 16 sec: Photo courtesy of Jordin Tootoo/David Kilabuk