Changes to the Institutes and Reforms of Open Programs and peer review

(2014-12-22) A number of changes are currently being undertaken at CIHR to ensure its investments deliver even greater impact on the health of Canadians.

These changes are generating significant interest in the research community. The following information is intended to help ensure a common, clear understanding of CIHR's approach and intended objectives. You are encouraged to share these messages with colleagues, partners and stakeholders.

Information about changes to the Institutes

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.

CIHR continues to make progress on this front. It is important to note that there will be no change in the number or slate of Institutes and no reduction in the total amount of funding available to Canadian health researchers. Two key changes are:

  • Restructuring the Institute Advisory Boards (IABs). This restructuring aims to further strengthen the design of innovative, cross-disciplinary, and impactful research initiatives. It is intended to foster further collaboration amongst Institutes. This complements other advisory mechanisms already in place at CIHR, such as those for Signature Initiatives, as well as the community outreach activities undertaken by each Institute. 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.
  • Creating a Common Research Fund. This fund will support high-impact and successful Signature Initiatives that cut across Institutes and disciplines. It will offer an opportunity for governments, charities, institutions, and other partners to leverage CIHR investments. It will also provide a solid foundation for strong partnerships required for success. The Common Research Fund does not have mandatory 1:1 matching requirements.

CIHR’s executive management has established working groups to consider how best to operationalize these changes and to guide implementation. The implementation teams are considering all input recently received from the health research community, and welcome additional feedback.

Please visit the CIHR website for more information about these changes and send your questions or input to: institutesmodernization@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

Information about Reforms of Open Programs and Peer Review Processes

CIHR continues to make progress on the reform of its funding program for investigator-initiated research. The new, simplified programs will consist of the Foundation Scheme, the Project Scheme, and new peer review processes supported by a College of Reviewers.

This month, the Stage 1 review process for the first Foundation Scheme pilot was completed. An initial summary of the results is available. There are a number of questions that have been raised about the first stage of this pilot. A set of questions and answers will be made available on the CIHR website in the coming weeks.

As this is a pilot, applicants and reviewers are being asked to complete surveys to outline their perceptions and experience with the competition and peer review processes. This feedback will be analyzed and the results will be shared with the research community. As with previous pilots, these results will help inform changes to future competition processes and identify areas for improvement if necessary.

CIHR will be engaging with the research community through a series of town hall meetings beginning in January 2015, providing an opportunity to discuss the implementation of the reforms in further detail.

The implementation of these new programs does not decrease the amount of funding available to Canadian health researchers through CIHR. In 2012, CIHR’s Governing Council committed to increasing the funding envelope for the Investigator Initiated programs by $10M a year cumulatively for five years, beginning in 2014.

Moving forward

As we implement these enhancements, we will continue to keep Canadian researchers and our partners informed of our progress. All of these changes are the result of extensive consultations – both within Canada and with international partners. We are confident that these changes will make CIHR a more flexible organization that is better able to invest in research that produces the innovations needed to strengthen Canada’s health care systems.

Regular updates will be provided on the CIHR website throughout the implementation processes.

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