Institutes modernization: questions and answers

Institute Advisory Boards Questions and answers

Questions

  1. What was the outcome of the Institutes Model Review?
  2. What is the "Common Research Fund?" (Last updated: 2014-12-19)
  3. Why are the Institute Advisory Boards being restructured?
  4. What will the final IAB model look like?
  5. Has CIHR decreased the total amount of funding available to researchers?
  6. How are you implementing these changes?
  7. How can I obtain a copy of the Internal and External Working Groups’ report?
  8. What is CIHR doing to engage with its various stakeholders?
  9. What are the Institutes and why does CIHR have them?
  10. What is the Institutes Model Review?
  11. Why did you conduct this review?
  12. Why did you undertake this Review in 2013-14?
  13. What was encompassed in the review?
  14. Who conducted the review?
  15. How were members of External Working Group selected?
  16. Why were there no members of the research community on the EWG?
  17. How did the working groups consult their stakeholders and provide recommendations?
  18. How long did the review take?
  19. Who made the final decisions?
  20. Was the Institutes Model Review a consequence of budget reduction measures?

1. What was the outcome of the Institutes Model Review?

In August 2014, Governing Council directed CIHR to implement a series of enhancements to ensure that CIHR investments in health research have the greatest potential for impact on the health of Canadians. These enhancements aim to better support the Institutes and improve their overall effectiveness by:

  1. Restructuring the Institute Advisory Boards such that members will advise more than one Institute. This advisory model, which consists of having advisors that provide guidance to several Institutes, will enhance collaboration across research pillars, disciplines, communities and sectors. Clustering options are being developed under the guiding principle that all 13 Institutes will continue to benefit from the very best expert counsel and advice.
  2. Further enhancing the capacity of CIHR's Science Council to initiate impactful research opportunities that cross multiple sectors by having Institutes invest half of their budget into a common research fund for this purpose.
  3. Strengthening organizational coordination and corporate support for the Institutes by having Scientific Directors functionally report to Portfolio Heads and integrating Ottawa-based Institute staff into the three CIHR portfolios.
  4. Developing a robust framework to support a regular assessment of Institute performance and relevance.

2. What is the "Common Research Fund?" (Last updated: 2014-12-19)

The Common Research Fund is CIHR's new model for collaborative strategic research. This fund will encourage the development of high-impact research initiatives that cut across several Institutes while also offering an opportunity for governments, charities, institutions, and other partners to leverage CIHR investments. This can include various forms of support, including complementary funding; however, the focus is primarily on engaging the right partners in the right way to realize the objectives of each initiative.

The type of partner, leveraging expectations, and who undertakes the partnering (e.g., CIHR or a researcher) is driven by the type of initiative being undertaken and it will vary – by research area, expected impact, sector, expectations of other partners, etc. The Common Research Fund does not have a mandatory 1:1 matching requirement.

Further information about the Common Research Fund will be shared in early 2015.

3. Why are the Institute Advisory Boards being restructured?

The Institute Advisory Boards (IABs) are being restructured so that members will advise more than one Institute. This advisory model is intended to provide Institutes with a wider scope of scientific expertise, allow IABs to better identify opportunities for Institute collaboration; and streamline organizational structure. This approach will complement other advisory mechanisms already in place at CIHR, such as those for Signature Initiatives. In addition, Scientific Directors will continue to lead a collaborative dialogue with stakeholders across many scientific disciplines in support of CIHR’s numerous initiatives and strategic priorities.

4. What will the final IAB model look like?

Specific decisions on how the IABs will be structured have not been taken. These will be shaped through discussions with current IAB members, Scientific Directors and CIHR executives under the guiding principle that all 13 Institutes will continue to benefit from the very best expert counsel and advice.

5. Has CIHR decreased the total amount of funding available to researchers?

There has been no reduction to the amount of funding available to Canadian health researchers through CIHR.

6. How are you implementing these changes?

CIHR’s executive management has established four teams composed of CIHR staff and Scientific Directors of the Institutes to develop implementation plans for each of the enhancements. These teams have begun meeting to discuss how best to implement the enhancements. As part of this process, the teams are considering all input recently received from the health research community.

7. How can I obtain a copy of the Internal and External Working Groups’ report?

Copies of the reports are available upon request by contacting institutesmodernization@cihr-irsc.gc.ca. Please note that the reports are working documents currently available in English only.

8. What is CIHR doing to engage with its various stakeholders?

CIHR is committed to ongoing exchanges with stakeholders to ensure that information is communicated to all concerned. This includes a dialogue to be led by senior CIHR management with Aboriginal health researchers on matters of specific interest to that community. Through these interactions and other efforts to engage with Canadian researchers, CIHR will ensure that the changes underway are well communicated and understood.

In addition, the implementation teams will consider all relevant input received by email at institutesmodernization@cihr-irsc.gc.ca during their analysis and deliberations. Feedback is also being sought from the Institute Advisory Board Chairs.

9. What are the Institutes and why does CIHR have them?

CIHR's network of virtual health research institutes brings together all partners in the research process – the people who fund research, those who carry it out and those who use its results – to share ideas and focus on what Canadians need: good health and the means to prevent disease and fight it when it happens. Each institute supports a broad spectrum of research in its topic areas and, in consultation with its stakeholders, sets priorities for research in those areas.

Each of CIHR's 13 Institutes is led by a Scientific Director, supported by an Institute Advisory Board.

10. What is the Institutes Model Review?

The Institutes Model Review assessed the structure, role, policies, financial framework and slate of the CIHR Institutes to ensure that they can effectively respond to current and emerging health research challenges, while considering whether Institutes are well positioned to take advantage of national and international scientific opportunities to help CIHR deliver on its mandate.

11. Why did you conduct this review?

Canada's health research landscape is continually evolving. As new areas of health science and public health emerge, CIHR must also evolve to support these advances. The Institutes Model Review provided the organization with an opportunity to assess how we are doing after 14 years.

Furthermore Governing Council is mandated to review the mandate and performance of CIHR's Institutes every five years. The International Review Panel (IRP), mandated to evaluate CIHR's performance, noted in its 2011 report the importance of a periodic "review of the slate of Institutes to ensure that CIHR is supporting an evolving research landscape" and recommended that GC form "a working group to examine whether the slate of CIHR Institutes is appropriate". Governing Council responded to the IRP recommendations and abided by its obligations under the CIHR Act.

12. Why did you undertake this Review in 2013-14?

The Review provided an opportunity to assess whether the CIHR Institutes continue to effectively respond to current and emerging health research challenges, while also considering whether Institutes remain well positioned to take advantage of national and international scientific opportunities to help CIHR deliver on its mandate.

While the Institutes Model Review was a complex exercise to undertake, it represents a positive and constructive step in the evolution of CIHR.

13. What was encompassed in the review?

The Institutes Model Review assessed the structure, role, policies, financial framework and slate of the CIHR Institutes. Institute performance was not assessed as it is reviewed on an annual basis by GC and every five years by an external review panel.

14. Who conducted the review?

Governing Council conducted the Institutes Model Review. To assist Governing Council in its work, the Review was informed by recommendations from two working groups that operated concurrently but separately:

  • an Internal Working Group comprised of the 13 CIHR Scientific Directors and the three vice-presidents, and
  • an External Working Group comprised of ten members with connections and experiences from various stakeholder communities that work closely with CIHR and share an interest in health research.

15. How were members of External Working Group selected?

Members of the External Working Group are esteemed individuals and global leaders in their fields who were selected because of their connections to and experiences from various stakeholder communities that work closely with CIHR and share an interest in health research. These stakeholders include health charities, research institutions, international partners, private sector partners, the federal government, and citizens/patients.

16. Why were there no members of the research community on the EWG?

The Scientific Directors (SD) of the 13 CIHR Institutes, members of the Internal Working Group, are active researchers. SDs also consulted with their respective Institute Advisory Boards (IAB), who act in an advisory capacity to the SDs and to the Governing Council with respect to the full range of Institute activities. These activities include deliberation and evaluation on Institute health research priorities and strategies and implementation plans for engaging the broader research community.

As such, the views of the research community were well encompassed through the SDs and through the IABs with whom SDs consulted throughout the review process.

Unsolicited written submissions were also welcomed to ensure that no stakeholder's input was overlooked. To that end, CIHR had created a dedicated email address through which interested parties could contribute to the review process. In the launch announcement published in December 2013, members of the research community, and other interested stakeholders, were invited to submit comments to institutesmodelreview@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

17. How did the working groups consult their stakeholders and provide recommendations?

Members of the two working groups each consulted with their respective stakeholders through a limited number of targeted discussions. These perspectives were then considered, along with other evidence, during each groups' deliberations and consequently informed the development of recommendations to Governing Council.

Specifically, Scientific Directors on the Internal Working Group engaged the members of their Institute Advisory Boards.

For their part, the External Working Group members consulted with stakeholder communities that work closely with CIHR, including health charities, research institutions, international partners, private sector partners, the federal government, and citizens/patients.

18. How long did the review take?

The Review was officially launched in the fall of 2013. The two working groups provided an interim report to Governing Council in February 2014 and a full report in June 2014. Governing Council rendered its decisions following a fulsome discussion at its retreat in August 2014.

19. Who made the final decisions?

Ultimately, it was the responsibility of Governing Council to decide on any potential changes to the model, role and slate of the Institutes based on their own deliberations.

20. Was the Institutes Model Review a consequence of budget reduction measures?

Canada's health research landscape is continually evolving. As new areas of health science and public health emerge, CIHR must also evolve to support these advances.

It is in this spirit that CIHR's Governing Council undertook an Institutes Model Review in 2013-14. This Review assessed the structure, role, policies, financial framework and slate of the CIHR Institutes to ensure that they can effectively respond to current and emerging health research challenges, while considering whether Institutes are well positioned to take advantage of national and international scientific opportunities to help CIHR deliver on its mandate.

This review also responded to the obligations in the CIHR Act which directs Governing Council (GC) to "review the mandate and performance of each Health Research Institute at least every five years after it is established and determine whether its mandate or the policies respecting its role and functioning should be amended or whether it should be merged with another Health Research Institute or terminated."

Regardless of the current economic landscape CIHR is obligated to follow the Act, and as such, would be reviewing the mandate and performance of the Institutes in any event.

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