ICHR Strategic research priorities
Strategic Priority Research Themes Identified for 2006 - 2010
Following extensive consultations with the community and discussions with stakeholders, the members of the Institute Advisory Board have recommended eight priority areas for strategic research themes for 2006-2010 (please see below).
The mandate of the ICRH is very broad and encompasses a wide range of communities that conduct research on heart, lung, brain (stroke), blood, blood vessels, critical and intensive care, and sleep. To ensure that various ICRH researchers from different communities would relate to the new priorities and benefit from upcoming funding opportunities, we focused on selecting common themes (identified through the consultations) that would be of relevance to as many research areas as possible.
The eight strategic research themes are only the starting point for guiding ICRH investment in the upcoming years; we rely on our research community, partners and other stakeholders to develop these areas further through community engagement summit workshops (i.e., ICRH New Frontiers Program). We expect that this targeted investment will lead to the identification of important gaps in knowledge, opportunities, challenges, and potential future directions in many research areas, including both respiratory and circulatory health. The workshop results, summarized in thorough reports, will set the foundation for the development of initiatives and strategic requests for application (RFAs). These workshops will also serve as frameworks for development of partnerships, research training, capacity building, and knowledge translation to influence and advance health care.
1. Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Complications (RFA launched in February 2006, supporting 3 Teams and 2 High Risk grants)
This strategic initiative focuses on further strengthening our understanding of the causes, biological mechanisms, treatment, risk factors and prevention of cardiovascular complications of type 1 and 2 diabetes in individuals affected by diabetes, including Aboriginal Peoples, children and youth, the elderly and other vulnerable populations from Canada and other countries.
2. Technology for diagnostic and therapeutic advances, including imaging technologies for early detection of disease (RFA scheduled to be launched in December 2007, offering Team grants) **Re-launch is scheduled for June 2008
This funding opportunity will build upon the existing Canadian and International strengths in basic and clinical imaging research by identifying and exploring new ways in the development, application and assessment of imaging technologies and imaging biomarkers. In particular, we hope that projects funded under this initiative will focus on the critical steps between technology development and clinical implementation.
3. Psychological, social, behavioral and environmental determinants of at risk behaviour for chronic disease, and means of effective interventions (Opportunity to lead a Consultation Workshop through the New Frontiers Program was launched in December 2007; RFA is scheduled to be launched in December 2008)
The workshop funded under this theme will bring researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders together to identify the research priorities and define the gaps in the area of primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and respiratory diseases. Specifically, the workshop will focus on defining knowledge gaps re how behavioural, psychological, social and environmental factors affect and/or contribute to the (1) access to health information; (2) uptake of health care related information; and (3) decisions of individuals as to which actions to take to maintain or recover healthy functioning.
4. Sleep: circadian impact on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, metabolism and obesity, and means of diagnosis, treatment and prevention (Opportunity to lead a Consultation Workshop through the New Frontiers Program is scheduled to be launched in December 2007; RFA is scheduled to be launched in June 2009)
The workshop funded under this priority will focus on identifying target topics and defining knowledge gaps with respect to sleep and circadian rhythms, as related to all areas of basic and applied health research. Some topics may include: effects of normal and disrupted sleep and circadian rhythms on metabolism, vasculature, respiration, cognition and function; links between sleep disorders and neurological and psychiatric conditions; national networks for education and research; translation of knowledge of the impact of sleep and circadian organization to health practitioners and the public.
5. Biomarkers for chronic disease, including genetic, proteomic and phenotypic markers for prevention, diagnosis and guidance for therapy (Opportunity to lead a Consultation Workshop through the New Frontiers Program is scheduled to be launched in June 2008; RFA is scheduled to be launched in Dec 2009)
Earlier identification of individual risk for developing various diseases together with improved detection of early disease stages will facilitate more effective disease prevention and prompt intervention prior to the onset of irreversible damage. To apply these strategies, it is necessary to (1) develop genomic, proteomic and phenotypic biomarkers that can detect early disease stages, thus enabling earlier detection and treatment; (2) utilize systematic approaches to validate existing and novel biomarkers, which will establish the causal or “surrogate” roles of these markers in the disease process; and (3) improve informatics approaches to cluster functionally related markers of risk and to stratify markers associated with stages of disease progression.
6. Aging and the cardiorespiratory system: changing epidemiology, physiology and means to healthy aging and disease prevention
Aging is a genetically programmed and controlled continuum of development and maturation, which is controlled not only by genes but also by environment and epigenetic influences. Recent evidence suggests that telomere length and telomerase activity as well as DNA methylation, for example, could play a direct role in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The discovery of molecular genetic determinants and environmentally relevant modulators, including preventive and therapeutic actions with respect to cardiorespiratory diseases, will help our understanding of the mechanisms of healthy aging.
7. Injury repair and inflammation: mechanisms leading to the development of chronic diseases and their potential prevention
The workshop funded under this priority will focus on injury repair and inflammation mechanisms that lead to the development of chronic diseases and their potential prevention. For example, pulmonary fibrosis is the common consequence and often central feature of many lung diseases. However, the relationship between various structural changes and disease severity is still unclear. In addition, the molecular events underlying these changes are also poorly understood. The workshop will focus on identifying potential research questions and gaps that will tackle the problem of tissue remodeling (cardiovascular and respiratory systems) from basic research to translational research.
8. Transplantation-regeneration-cell based therapies to effect cure rather than palliation, including relevant bioethics aspect
Over the past few decades, strategies for prevention of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases have received quite widespread attention and offer hope of eventually reducing the overall disease burden. However, targeting the reversal of disease progression, and the support and/or replacement of the failing heart and lungs as alternative therapies to chronic medical treatments could effectively add another strategic arm to ‘cure’ the underlying fail. Advances in stem cell biology and technologies, and their application to autologous cell transplantation and tissue regeneration, hold exciting promise. Important bioethical issues are inherent in these therapies that offer opportunities to engage the community in the challenge of new therapies.
Note: ICRH contributions to each initiative are subject to availability of funds voted annually to CIHR by parliamentary appropriations, and the conditions that may be attached to them. In addition, launch dates may also vary depending on availability of funds.
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