The federal government in Canada will double its investment in clinical research over the next five years through a renewed partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the national association of research-based pharmaceutical companies, Rx&D.

CIHR, which is the federal government’s health research investment agency, will put up to Can$150 million into the CIHR/Rx&D Collaborative Research Program, while Rx&D members aim to match this contribution “dollar for dollar” over the next five years, the partners noted.  

Rx&D and CIHR have been pooling their efforts for the last 10 years, supporting a wide range of research projects at universities and hospitals across Canada.

Implementing the strategy

The renewed partnership aims to strengthen Canada’s appeal as a location of choice for clinical research and will play a key role in implementing the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, the translational research initiative launched by the federal government last August.

As the partners noted, maintaining Canada’s competitiveness depends on ensuring a steady stream of highly qualified graduates into the various sectors of health research.

One of the main goals of the renewed relationship is to develop and execute mechanisms that can support, train, recruit and retain researchers such as clinical investigators, biostatisticians, methodologists, epidemiologists, health economists and technicians.

The agreement will also help to consolidate Canada’s clinical research environment by facilitating increased and sustained investments, as well as bringing together key partners to identify and pursue new research opportunities, CIHR and Rx&D said.

“It will enhance co-ordination at the national, provincial and regional levels and simultaneously reduce barriers and red tape for clinical researchers,” they added.

Death Valleys

Canada’s patient-oriented research strategy was developed by CIHR in collaboration with the Canadian provinces and territories, health charities, academic healthcare organisations and industry representatives. It was mapped out in a document drawn up by a 12-member President’s Advisory Board under CIHR’s leadership.

The strategy document identified two ‘Death Valleys’ in Canada’s health research landscape: reduced capacity to translate basic biomedical research discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside, or to commercialise successfully health discoveries; and limited capacity to synthesise, disseminate and integrate research results more broadly into clinical practice and healthcare decision-making. 

Its proposed solutions rested on five overarching goals:

•    Creating a collaborative, pan-Canadian process for identifying, establishing and addressing patient-oriented research priorities.

•     Establishing an integrated, leading-edge pan-Canadian clinical research infrastructure “along the full continuum of patient-oriented research”.           

•    Developing Canada's capacity to attract, train and mentor healthcare professionals and health researchers, as well as creating sustainable career paths in patient-oriented research.                                      

•    Strengthening organisational, regulatory and financial support for clinical studies in Canada, as well as enhancing patient and clinician engagement in these studies.