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In the past year, CIHR embarked on a significant and comprehensive evaluation of our first five years. The Review was conducted by a prestigious International Review Panel comprised of 27 outstanding research leaders from five countries. This evaluation was an important milestone in the evolution of CIHR.
One of the key messages to come out of the Review concerned the tremendous opportunities available to Canada to excel at health research. "Few places in the world have the quality of health researcher, the universal healthcare system, the university structure and the mandate to put together a program such as that being developed by the CIHR," the Panel stated.
By reading this collection of research highlights, Your Health Research Dollars at Work 2005-2006, I hope you will agree that CIHR's efforts are already making a difference to Canadians. I can point to numerous examples.
Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan have created a possible new vaccine for Hepatitis C. A team at the Providence Health Care Centre in Vancouver has developed new guidelines for assessing chest pains that will reduce emergency room overcrowding. Neuromed Inc., a young company also from Vancouver, this year signed a US$475-million licensing deal with Merck for a new pain relief therapy. This deal, largest in the history of the Canadian biotechnology industry, was the result of funding over the past six years from CIHR to Dr. Terry Snutch, a professor at the University of British Columbia. Research organized by CIHR along with the provinces and territories helped deliver the evidence required for wait time benchmarks in three priority areas (cancer, joint replacement and sight restoration). This was a historic first for our healthcare system. These are just a few examples of the high-quality and high-impact work being supported by CIHR.
Health research helps address pressing health and scientific and social challenges, everything from pandemic preparedness to the demands of an aging society. It plays an integral role in ensuring the success of national strategies to address cancer, mental illness and heart disease. It is essential to support a high-quality, evidence-based, sustainable healthcare system for Canadians. It is driving the development of new products and services and attracting new investment.
I invite you to read further to find out how the Government of Canada, through CIHR, is contributing to a healthy, productive Canada.
Dr. Alan Bernstein, O.C., FRSC
Canadian Institutes of Health Research