Ethics @ CIHR – Annual Update (Fall 2011)

Building Capacity for Health Ethics Research

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Capacity building in health ethics is a commitment to developing knowledge and developing people. Ethics researchers must be equipped to critically address increasingly complex ethical questions, generating this knowledge in a timely manner.

In this Bulletin:

CIHR encourages interdisciplinary, innovative and integrative research on ethical issues pertaining to health, and also fosters the discussion of ethical issues to strengthen the culture of research ethics and integrity in Canada.

For inquiries:
Ethics Office, CIHR
Rm. 97, 160 Elgin St.
9th floor, A.L. 4809A
Ottawa, ON. K1A 0W9
Contact the Ethics Office

Director's Message

Penny Moody-CorbettPenny Moody-Corbett
Ethics Office Director

I started my Directorship in the Ethics Office in early July and I was welcomed by both the warmth of the Ottawa summer and a busy, competent and collegial staff. The Office plays a key role in health research in Canada, offering expertise and guidance on challenging topics of ethics and research integrity and supporting scholarly activity in the field of health ethics research. I had the opportunity to attend the spring meeting of the Standing Committee on Ethics and I am delighted to be able to work with such a distinguished group of scholars on ethics issues of national and global importance. I also look forward to making connections with the Institutes and the Ethics Designates as we move into the fall.

In 2009-2010 the Ethics Office prepared a strategic plan which provides a framework for the activities over the next several years. The plan reinforces the role that the office will play in supporting research activities and capacity development in ethics, participation in policies and policy development and promoting responsible conduct in research. In addition we have the advantage of the recently completed report by the International Review Panel which highlights a number of areas in which ethics, integrity and responsible research practices play critical roles. I am delighted to be able to contribute as we move forward and to bring my experience from academia. We hope that this bulletin provides an interesting and informative snap shot of our activities.

I would like to thank all of the office for helping me in my transition from the academic world to the world of the CIHR.

Health Ethics Research Funding Opportunities

The Ethics Office (EO) currently offers the following funding opportunities to support research relevant to health ethics:

Planning Grants - Fall 2011 Priority Announcement
These grants support relevant planning activities in ethics.
Application Deadline: October 17, 2011

Dissemination Events - Fall 2011 Priority Announcement
These grants support relevant dissemination activities in ethics.
Application Deadline: October 17, 2011

Doctoral Research Award - Fall 2011 Priority Announcement
The Douglas Kinsella Award for Research in Bioethics is offered to the highest ranking candidate whose research focuses on ethical issues related to health and/or health research.
Application Deadline: October 14, 2011

Operating Grant - Fall 2011 Priority Announcement
This grant offers additional sources of funding for highly rated applications in health ethics research.
Registration Deadline: August 15, 2011
Application Deadline: September 15, 2011

Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network
Catalyst Grant - Fall 2011 Drug Safety and Effectiveness in Underrepresented Populations

This grant provides an opportunity to explore health ethics research related to post-market drug safety and effectiveness in specific populations.
Application Deadline: October 14, 2011

Do not forget to check regularly online for recurring funding opportunities in health ethics research.

To find CIHR Health Ethics Research Funding Opportunities online:

  • go to "Find Funding" on the left side menu of CIHR's web site
  • choose "Search Opportunities"
  • use "Ethics" as your search term

Ethics Office Grants and Awards Recipients: Congratulations!

The EO provided full or partial funding to the following:

Catalyst Grants

Kirstin Borgerson (2010-2011); Heather E. Castleden (2011-2012); Chantal Caux (2011-2012); Jennifer A. Chandler (2011-2012); Iwao Hirose (2010-2011); Jude A. Kornelson (2011-2012); Catherine Mah (2011-2012); Edward Mills (2010-2011); Sergio Sismondo (2010-2011); Kate Shannon (2010-2011); Jeremy C. Snyder (2011-2012); Vivian A. Welch (2011-2012).

Douglas Kinsella Award

Cyndie Dubé-Baril (2011-2012); Constance Williams (2010-2011).

MPD Grants

Michel Alary (2010-2011); Paul Brassard (2010-2011); An-Wen Chan (2010-2011); Valorie A. Crooks (2011-2012); Mahmoud Eid (2011-2012); William J. Ermine (2010-2011); Thomas Foreman (2010-2011); Thomas Foreman (2011-2012); Andrea N. Frolic (2010-2011); Pierre S. Haddad (2010-2011); Jeffrey S. Hoch (2010-2011); Bonnie L. Jeffery (2011-2012); Anne K. Junker (2010-2011); Lori Kantymir (2011-2012); Amy Salmon (2010-2011); Jeremy C. Snyder (2010-2011); Jody Butler Walker (2010-2011).

Operating Grants

Lynda G. Balneaves (2011-2012); Françoise Baylis (2011-2012); Brenda L. Cameron (2011-2012)
Valorie A. Crooks (2011-2012); Khaled El Emam (2010-2011); Stephen Gaetz (2009-2010); Jennifer Gibson (2011-2012); Aidan Hollis (2011-2012); Jonathan Kimmelman (2010-2011 and 2011-2012); Nicholas B. King (2010-2011); Mireille Lavoie (2011-2012); Bernadette M. Pauly (2011-2012); Peter B. Reiner (2011-2012); Daniel Weinstock (2011-2012); Bryn Williams-Jones (2010-2011).

Team Grants

Mark A. Brockman (2010-2011); Barton B. Finlay (2010-2011); Cynthia Jardine (2010-2011); Peter A. Newman (2010-2011).

New Investigator Award

Marie Chantal Fortin (2011-2012)

Interview: Meet Ethics Catalyst Grant Recipient, Jennifer Gibson

Jennifer GibsonJennifer Gibson
Director of Partnerships and Strategy at the Joint Centre for Bioethics and Assistant Professor

1. Describe your academic situation at the time you received the Ethics Catalyst Grant?

I received the Ethics Catalyst Grant in 2009. After a two-year Canadian Health Services Research Foundation post-doctoral fellowship in 2004, I had been hired by the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB) as a Research Associate and Leader of Clinical and Organizational Ethics Strategic Initiatives. At the time of the award, I had been appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto (2007) and promoted to Director of Partnerships and Strategy (2007) and Senior Research Associate (2009) at the JCB. During this period (2004-2009), I was actively involved as a co-investigator in research related to priority setting/resource allocation ethics, ethical issues in healthcare management, and pandemic ethics.

2. What is your current situation?

Currently, I am Principal Investigator on 4 CIHR-funded grants, including the Ethics Catalyst Grant (2009), an Operating Grant (2011), a Partnerships for Health System Improvement Grant (2011), and a Meetings, Planning and Dissemination Grant (2011).

3. Did the Ethics Catalyst Grant contribute to where you are now?

Absolutely! First, I learned a tremendous amount about grant preparation and the grant review process itself. Second, the scale of the Ethics Catalyst Grant (2 years/up to $100K) ensured a manageable research project to facilitate additional skill development and learning about research project management and implementation. Finally, the Ethics Catalyst Grant positioned me to be competitive in the larger operating grant funding competitions. The Ethics Catalyst Grant opened up doors for me to establish a program of research in ethics, to build my skills as a researcher, and to position me for future success. I am so grateful for this opportunity.

4. Overall, what do you think is most helpful for CIHR to do to help build capacity in Canada for health ethics research?

In Canada and elsewhere, there is a growing recognition of ethics as a key component of high quality health care, health organization and system management, and health research. Ethics research cannot be seen as a "nice thing to" or an "add on"; rather it must be seen as part of the core mission of health research. Some things that may be helpful in building capacity include:

  • Encourage the CIHR's institutes to recognize ethics among their research priorities.
  • Continue to support funding instruments such as Ethics Catalyst Grants.
  • Explore novel partnerships with institutes and health system actors.
  • Consider development of a Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research targeted to ethics, using multi-disciplinary methodologies.

Catalyst Grants in Ethics are meant to encourage new investigators in the field of health ethics or investigators new to the field of health ethics, as a first step towards the pursuit of more comprehensive funding opportunities (e.g., operating grants) and promote conceptual and/or empirical research from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives - CIHR Ethics Funding web site.

Interview: Meet Graduate of Ethics of Health Research and Policy Training Program, Ryan Melnychuk

Ryan Melnychuk
Senior Policy Analyst, Public Health Agency of Canada

1. Describe your academic situation at the time you entered the STIHR program?

When I entered the STIHR program I had just completed a PhD in molecular virology and immunology in the United States. The focus of my doctoral research was the elucidation of cellular signaling mechanisms initiated by cytomegalovirus-encoded chemokine receptors resulting in smooth muscle cell migration. The ultimate end of this research was to determine the role of viral pathogens in long-term inflammatory disease processes including atherosclerosis, restenosis following coronary angioplasty and transplant vascular sclerosis.

2. What is your current situation?

Since 2007 I have been employed as a Senior Policy Analyst in public health ethics in the Office of Public Health Practice at the Public Health Agency of Canada. The primary focus of my work at the Agency can be summarized as the integration of public health ethics in the practice of public health and has included policy work, the development of tools and resources for public health practitioners and training and professional development in public health ethics.

3. Did the STIHR program contribute to where you are now?

The STIHR offered an opportunity to build upon my existing skills and expertise by providing complementary training in ethics: in my case combining a molecular scientific background and an analytical way of thinking with an ethical lens of analysis and reflection. Focusing first on ethics and infectious diseases, my research evolved quickly into a broader interest in public health ethics and ethics in public health decision-making.

I consider myself to be one of those fortunate few who actually work in an area that reflects my training, passions and academic background.

4. Overall, what do you think is most helpful for CIHR to do to help build capacity in Canada for health ethics research?

Ideas are the currency of humanity. Evolution, whether social, technological or biological, is driven by innovation. The confluence of the social, technological and biological will continue to erode the artificial academic barriers; the future of research rests in the continued transcendence of those barriers. The interesting and challenging ethical questions will emerge at the interfaces and fringes as disciplines merge, integrate and expand.

The Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research (STIHR)...was designed with the aim of creating opportunities for successful research teams to strengthen and expand training in cutting-edge research domains by offering training support for health researchers - CIHR Health Research Roadmap 2009-2014.

Interview: Meet Graduate of Ethics of Health Research and Policy Training Program, Darquise Lafrenière

Darquise LafrenièreDarquise Lafrenière
Researcher in the OMICS-ETHICS Research Group, University of Montreal

1. Describe your academic situation at the time you entered the STIHR program?

After my PhD in Applied Social Sciences, with a specialization in bioethics, I entered this program to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics at the University of British Columbia (UBC). There I joined a research team composed of researchers from UBC and the University of Manitoba who were conducting a study entitled "Centring the Human Subject in Health Research: Understanding the Meaning and Experience of Research Participation". This study was designed to explore how research subjects experience and ascribe a meaning to their participation in research protocols in the health field. The purpose of this study was to help improve research protocols and the ethics review process for research proposals, as well as, more broadly, the governance of research ethics in Canada.

My involvement focused on developing a strategy for disseminating the results of the first phase of the research project, and more specifically on examining innovative methods of knowledge translation. With Professor Susan M. Cox as my mentor, I was given the mandate of creating, presenting and evaluating the use of several art forms - the visual arts, song, poetry, and theatre - to disseminate research results. More than 50 collaborators contributed to the creation of the artistic production, which was presented twice before difference audiences. This project demonstrated that the arts can be used effectively to: 1) help to understand the experience of subjects who participate in health research, 2) generate emotions in the audience, 3) elicit questions about the research results presented, and 4) lead to changes in ways of seeing and in behaviours.

2. What is your current situation?

I am currently a researcher in the OMICS-ETHICS research group, which is attached to the Bioethics Programs at the University of Montreal. I have therefore joined my doctoral thesis supervisor, Professor Béatrice Godard, in a research project on nutrigenetics. My role is once again focused on the knowledge-translation aspect of this research project. I thus have the opportunity to continue along my career path in the field of knowledge translation, ethics, and communication - my principal research interests. At the same time, I am working on some other individual projects. Thanks to the CIHR MPD grant that I have received, I am now organizing, together with others researchers from the University of Toronto, UBC and Harvard, and an artist from Vancouver, an international symposium on the ethical dimensions of the use of the arts in research. I am also part of a team at the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics at UBC that has received a grant from the Canadian Stem Cell Network to develop an on-line training program on ethics and stem cells. Having helped to develop part of the content, I am now updating the French version of the site. I am also currently investing a lot of time in writing scientific articles.

3. Did the STIHR program contribute to where you are now?

Obtaining a scholarship through the STIHR program will, I am certain, have a decisive impact on my career. My experience at the Centre has been extraordinary. I have had remarkable mentors in Susan M. Cox and Michael McDonald. They are exceptional people from both a personal and a professional standpoint. It is one thing to be competent in a research field, but it's another to transmit your knowledge and to help emerging researchers to develop. Professors Cox and McDonald are excellent in both respects. Also, they have an impressive network of contacts from which they have let me benefit. Professor Cox is very creative, and this creativity is reflected in the course that she teaches. She uses a variety of teaching methods that not only let students learn effectively but also make it a pleasure to learn. It has therefore been very formative to participate in her sessions. While participating in my training program, I worked with talented colleagues, emerging researchers with a very wide variety of backgrounds and a great deal of potential, with whom I stay in regular contact. My fellowship in Vancouver has given me the chance to get involved in a large number of other projects and activities related to my fellowship project, such as teaching and such as organizing an international workshop, meetings with citizens, and a café scientifique. I have improved my skills in English, a language I could barely speak when I first arrived in the program.

4. Overall, what do you think is most helpful for CIHR to do to help build capacity in Canada for health ethics research?

The first thing to do in my opinion would be to place more value on mentorship. For example, I think that in evaluating researchers' records when they apply for grants, fellowships, and other awards, the current culture focuses disproportionately on how many publications they have to their credit and how many dollars worth of research funding they have secured in the past. I think that a demonstrated ability to develop new researchers and to provide good supervision for emerging researchers should count just as much.

Otherwise, researchers will always be tempted to invest their efforts in those activities that are most likely to pay off in the short term. Some learning activities could be offered to mentors participating in the STIHR program. A survey, interviews, or focus groups could be conducted with former emerging researchers from the program to establish the profile of the "ideal mentor". Learning modules could then be developed according to this "ideal" and offered to mentors to contribute to their development in this role.

A CIHR-funded summer institute on health ethics for emerging researchers is another initiative that could produce some interesting results.

Events and Consultations

Upcoming Events in Ethics

The following is a selection of upcoming events in ethics:

October 11, 2011
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Getting to Yes: Facilitating Ethical Human Research. Keynote Address: "The Ethics of Ethics Review: How Far May Ethics Review Extend?" by Professor Bernard Dickens, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. 9:30 am - CAMH Auditorium, Room CS-G58. Register by e-mail.

October 13-16, 2011
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities: 13th Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, USA

November 1, 2011
Global Health and Global Health Ethics Symposium, Toronto, ON

November 13-15, 2011 - 2011 Global Health Conference: Advancing Health Equity in the 21st Century, Montreal, PQ


Consultation on the Responsible Conduct of Research - August-September, 2011:

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (the Tri-Agencies) continue to work on improving their policy framework for research and scholarly integrity, and financial accountability.

From August 15 to September 30, 2011, the Tri-Agencies will be consulting with a wide range of stakeholders in the research community on the draft consultation document, Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research.

The consultation document can be accessed via CIHR's Web site.
The feedback will be considered when finalizing the Framework.

Tips and Tools: Ethics Resources on the WEB

Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research involving Humans (TCPS-2)
Note: The CIHR Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aboriginal People are no longer CIHR funding policy. Health research involving First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada is henceforth governed by the provisions outlined in Chapter 9 of the TCPS-2.

TCPS-2 Tutorial Course on Research Ethics (CORE)
The Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics has created CORE to guide through the TCPS 2 by featuring interactive exercises and multi-disciplinary examples.

TCPS-2 Webinars
Online source of webinars available early this fall.

Electronic Health Information Laboratory
Online source of webinars, publications, etc., on health data security and privacy.

U.S. National Institutes of Health- Bioethics Resources-Tutorials

UNESCO Global Ethics Observatory (GEObs)
A "system of databases with worldwide coverage in bioethics and other areas of applied ethics in science and technology".

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