Chronic Disease overview

Establishing the Canadian health research agenda

The Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, in partnership with the Institute of Infection and Immunity (III), Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (ICRH), and Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (INMD), is leading a new initiative in "Inflammation in Chronic Disease". This is a Signature Initiative of CIHR's Strategic Plan "Health Research Roadmap: Creating innovative research for better health and health care", and is one of the critical components that will ensure its implementation. The aim of this Roadmap Signature Initiative is to gain a broad and unified picture of inflammation across several pathologies and chronic diseases. This will allow recognition of shared pathways/biomarkers and potentially useful common interventions for inflammation prevention and management.

It is well-recognized that there is an increasing burden of chronic disease in aging societies, with escalating health care costs and human suffering across the globe. Many chronic diseases develop based on the paradigm of a vicious cycle of injury, inflammation, attempted regeneration, re-modeling, and immune activation further exacerbating injury. Inflammation dysfunction contributes to a plethora of disorders such as autoimmune diseases (e.g., arthritis, psoriasis, IBD), asthma, atherosclerosis, obesity, diabetes (insulin sensitivity), hypersensitivities, myopathies, periodontal disease, transplant rejection, and pain. The possible link between inadequate physical activity and major chronic diseases will also be carefully studied.


This Roadmap Signature Initiative will build on significant Canadian strengths in inflammation, biomarkers, pain, imaging and physical activity, amongst other strengths, with the global objective of bridging the silos between research groups working in particular chronic disease areas so as to recognize and advance on common pathways and interventions, ultimately contributing to a unified Canadian chronic disease strategy. This will be achieved through a variety of funding opportunities containing a multi-disciplinary, multi-disease and multi-sectoral focus.
At this point in the process, preliminary research areas of the Initiative may include:

  • To understand the mechanisms underlying tissue inflammation across chronic diseases, including following organ transplantation;
  • To identify novel common markers, and potential therapeutic targets and treatments, including research on microbiota;
  • To develop novel imaging strategies to detect and monitor the progression of inflammation and pain, and their responsiveness to interventions and therapeutic strategies;
  • To identify novel interventions and effective programs for prevention of chronic disease and the pain associated with chronic disease.


We recognize that partners will bring unique perspectives and different forms of partnership, e.g., research funding support, expertise with knowledge translation, access to particular platforms, and this will greatly enhance the Initiative. Our goal is also to bring potential partners together for a Consensus Conference in May 2011 to identify gaps, opportunities and priorities going forward. In the meantime, staff of IMHA and its partner Institutes will be in contact with you to engage in preliminary discussions of interest and support.