Ernest Cutz is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, and a former senior pathologist in the Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine and Senior Research Associate at the Hospital for Sick Children's Research Institute.
This year’s Nobel prize for Physiology and Medicine, awarded to Drs. William Kaelin, Gregg Semenza and Sir Peter Ratcliffe for discovering details of how the body’s cells sense and react to low oxygen levels, is a remarkable feat for several reasons. The Nobel Committee cited the discoveries as ”one of life’s most essential adaptive processes”. The laureates' research answers profound questions about how the body works, helping to inform potential new therapeutic targets to treat cancer and other diseases. While I rejoiced in this remarkable accomplishment by these exceptional clinician-scientists, I was reminded of a colossal failure of the grant review process for medical research funding in Canada. ...continue reading →
Charles Yin in a MD/PhD Candidate at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University
On June 18, 2015 the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced that it would be withdrawing funding support for the nation’s 14 MD/PhD programs by the 2016/2017 academic year. This announcement caught program directors and trainees across the country by surprise, and was at odds with the recommendations of two advisory panels commissioned by the CIHR, both of which identified a particular need to improve upon how clinician scientist training in Canada. Although the cutting of the CIHR funding was a blow to MD/PhD programs across the country, it looks like these programs won’t be shutting their doors for the foreseeable future. Rather, this development provides us as clinician scientists, physicians, researchers and policy makers with an opportunity ...continue reading →
In our modern world, ‘next gen’ releases of technological devices and apps seem to come along before we have even figured out the previous version. We have a new generation of communication, new systems of tracking information and a new level of data availability.
Our healthcare system, accessed by millions of Canadians each day, has also entered a new generation as it produces trillions of bits information that could be harnessed to understand the comparative effectiveness of different treatments, the causes of potentially avoidable adverse events, unnecessary costs and missed opportunities for prevention, and to improve patient experience. But to this point, we have not really been able to use this information to produce knowledge on how we can do better. In order to do so we need a ‘next gen’ health system. ...continue reading →
Jacquelyn Cragg is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and University of British Columbia.
John Kramer is an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia
In January and February of this year, health researchers across Canada are ramping up grant writing ahead of the 2016 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Scheme deadline. As with all grant applications, these researchers (applicants and co-applicants, and their respective trainees) will be meticulously preparing their curriculum vitaes (CVs), in order to showcase the success of their research activities. A cornerstone for federal governmental granting dollars since 2002, this wave of self-publicity will pivotally involve preparing a Canadian Common CV (CCV). ...continue reading →
Douglas W. Zochodne is a professor in the Division of Neurology and the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta
...an excessive concern with useful problems, regardless of their relation to existing knowledge and technique, can so easily inhibit scientific development. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Fundamental bioscience has suffered a severe crisis of confidence in Canada. No longer accepted as the bedrock, or starting point, in the innovative journey, recruitment of new basic sciences faculty is down and funding has been dramatically attenuated in real dollars. In 2000, those who conceived of and planned CIHR proposed a working budget of $1B CAD within 5 years of inception. This level of funding was higher than Medical Research Council (MRC) allocation but below funding levels in the USA, and represented a very tiny fraction of Canadian health care spending. However, this funding support simply did not materialize; it remained at about 30% below the proposed level in absolute dollars, at best. Since then, rises in grant support have not kept pace with inflation. Budgets are flat ...continue reading →
Grant Russell is a primary care clinician and health services researcher, as well as Head of School of Primary Health Care, Director of the Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit (SAPCRU) and Professor of General Practice Research at Monash University in Australia. He spent 6 years working in Ontario, Canada
A CMAJ editorial once, famously, described Canada as being the ‘country of perpetual pilot projects’. “Pilotomania” is nowhere better seen than in Canada’s long running experimentation with models of delivering primary care. Given that experiments need some sort of professional interpretation, in 2007 the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (as it was then) commissioned our team at the University of Ottawa (where I was working at the time) to review Canada’s primary care research capacity. Our report: Mapping the future of primary health care research in Canada, allowed us to unpack what turned out to be a fragile enterprise.
We were particularly struck by the challenges facing the primary care research workforce. Many researchers were isolated, especially those working outside nursing schools or Departments of Family Medicine. While islands of innovation existed, there was little sense of a sustainable system for primary care research and development.
Alan Katz is a professor in the Departments of Community Health Sciences and Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba, where he serves as Director of Research
It is a good time to be a primary care researcher in Canada. There has been unprecedented recent investment in Primary Care research in Canada. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) funded 12 Community Based Primary Health Care Teams for 5 years starting in 2013. In addition the Strategy for Patient Oriented Research, (also funded by CIHR) is launching a pan-Canadian network focused on primary and integrated care. These big ticket investments are long overdue and very welcome. They have stimulated lots of excitement in the research community and will, through the inclusion of trainee funding in each grant, generate long term benefits for PC research.
The background to these initiatives is that primary care research in Canada has lagged behind other countries with similar ...continue reading →