INMD Strategic research priorities
Message from INMD's Scientific Director
It is with great optimism that I present this refreshed Strategic Plan for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism, and Diabetes (INMD). The plan reinvigorates the strategic activities of INMD, renews the strategic priorities, strengthens established relationships with other institutes and community partners, builds on successes of the last five years and guides the path forward. The three strategic research priorities are described below:
Strategic Priority 1: Food and Health
In the INMD Strategic Plan for 2010-2014, INMD committed to support research to develop a stronger evidence base to inform future nutritional practice and food policy. This included fostering research on the total diet and specific nutrients to enhance health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. The evaluation of biomarkers of nutritional adequacy, emerging innovations in food engineering, and ethical issues posed by these changes particularly with respect to people with vulnerabilities were noted as priority areas for strategic research funding.
The overarching aim of this strategic priority is to foster research on food and health that results in improved nutritional status at the population level, compresses morbidity in relation to chronic disease, and provides support for evidence-informed policies and practice.
INMD will continue to prioritize Food and Health through following the progress of the INMD-funded Programmatic Grants in Food & Health, and through a partnership with European countries in a Joint Programme Initiative: A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (JPI-HDHL). The JPI-HDHL is a partnership between 25 European member states and associated countries. Through this JPI, INMD continues to seek opportunities to advance Food and Health research through partnerships and knowledge translation activities.
Strategic Priority 2: Environments, Genes and Chronic Disease
The INMD Strategic Plan 2010-2014 outlines the need for research to identify the influence of the environment and genes on the development of chronic disease, as well as the need to acquire knowledge on the phenotypic variation of both complex and rare diseases, interactions with the human microbiome, and the health consequences of changes in natural and built environments.
INMD will continue to prioritize Environments, Genes and Chronic Disease. In November 2014, as part of the Environments and Health Signature Initiative, INMD launched a funding opportunity, Programmatic Grants in Environments, Genes and Chronic Disease. This call for Programmatic Grants was launched in collaboration with the CIHR Institutes of Aging; Infection and Immunity; Human Development, Child and Youth Health; and in partnership with the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology; Crohn's and Colitis Canada; Cystic Fibrosis Canada; the Heart and Stroke Foundation; the Kidney Foundation of Canada, and the National Research Council. In collaboration with our funding partners, Genome British Columbia and Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, the Programmatic Grants in Environments, Genes and Chronic Disease will support research to advance our understanding of how environment-gene or environment-microbiome-gene interactions contribute to chronic, non-communicable diseases.
Strategic Priority 3: Obesity and Healthy Body Weight: Seeking Solutions
In the INMD Strategic Plan 2010-2014, the Institute committed to supporting research on solution- focused interventions related to obesity at the clinical, policy, and population health level. Emphasis was placed on fostering research on priority populations (including children, Aboriginal peoples and severely obese individuals), and knowledge translation to improve prevention approaches and enhance weight management strategies.
Obesity and its complications remain an important population health challenge. INMD continues to support obesity research that focuses on treatment and prevention, through the Bariatric Care Team Grants and through Signature Initiatives such as Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal People and the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, and will facilitate knowledge translation to ensure that research in this area is used to inform health policies and programs.
INMD supports capacity building through partnerships with INMD-affiliated voluntary health organizations and health professional associations. New Investigator Meetings are a mentoring and capacity-building activity for the Institute, with focus on investigators in the first five years of their first faculty appointment. To date, INMD has hosted five of these meetings, two of which were joint meetings with other institutes. INMD New Investigator Meetings focus on building capacity to enhance participants' success in obtaining future peer-reviewed grant funding, facilitate interactions and collaborations among New Investigators, support the development of partnership and knowledge translation skills, and provide opportunities for New Investigators to be mentored by more established Canadian researchers.
In addition, INMD partners with the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) and Crohn's and Colitis Canada (CCC) to support capacity building in gastroenterology and with the Canadian Society of Nephrology and the Kidney Foundation of Canada (KFOC) to increase nephrology capacity. These capacity building initiatives are based on long-standing partnerships that have been positively evaluated and which leverage CIHR funding, increase capacity, and advance knowledge in their respective fields.
Support of Knowledge Translation & Exchange and Ethics
INMD will continue to emphasize knowledge translation and exchange and ethics by expanding boundaries with both established and new partners to co-design and co-fund transformational initiatives. For example, INMD partners with the Canadian Nutrition Society to host symposia at their annual conferences. These symposia profile CIHR-funded Food and Heath research and provide knowledge translation opportunities to the broader nutrition community that includes clinicians, representatives from government and industry, as well as academics.
INMD will continue to promote ethical principles of health research, contribute to CIHR's ethics mandate, as described in Roadmap, and to embed ethics in INMD activities. For example, INMD included ethical considerations in the Team Grants in Bariatric Care, announced in April 2015.
INMD is committed to evaluating the outputs and outcomes of the research. CIHR is developing a robust approach to evaluation and monitoring, which includes a plan for regular assessment of institute performance. This approach will build on learning from approaches being used to evaluate priority-driven funding of health research internationally by other funding organizations. Assessing the concept of the strength of science is inherently complex and multi-dimensional and cannot be measured by using a single indicator. Accordingly, a multi-lens approach will be used that incorporates both qualitative and quantitative measures, including bibliometrics, surveys, and data analyses.
Health research in the areas of the INMD mandate – diet, digestion, excretion, and metabolism – continues to be vital to the health of Canadians and in improving the Canadian health care system. This refreshed INMD Strategic Plan, 2015-2018 will result in targeted research initiatives that align with the CIHR Strategic Plan, Health Research Roadmap II: Capturing innovation to produce better health and health care for Canadians Strategic Plan 2014-15 – 2018-19 and leverage CIHR investments in open, investigator-initiated research programs. We will engage partners and stakeholders with a shared interest in supporting health research and in translating research discoveries and outcomes to benefit Canadians.
With kindest regards,
Philip M. Sherman, MD, FRCPC
Scientific Director, INMD
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