Speech from the President: SPOR Networks in Chronic Diseases announcement

March 31, 2016

McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario

Thank you, Dr. Kelton, for your kind introduction.

Minister Philpott, CIHR is most grateful to you for this strong signal that the Government of Canada remains firmly committed to supporting patient-oriented research and, through it, evidence-based practice.

It is most fitting that today’s announcement is made here at McMaster, home to David Sackett, Canada’s most famous proponent of health care improvement through research. The man who actually coined the term “Evidence-based Medicine”.

It is not surprising, therefore, that two of the five Networks being launched today are led by researchers from McMaster, given the long standing record of excellence of this University in clinical research and knowledge translation.

These five Networks are at the heart of Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, or SPOR – a coalition of partners dedicated to using research evidence to transform health care policy and practice.

These bring to seven the total number of SPOR Networks launched to date, adding to a first research Network on mental health and a second on primary health care.

By better integrating research into care, these Networks will seek to produce tangible, measurable progress that will result in improved health care practice and improved health outcomes for Canadians.

When we first launched SPOR, our vision was to create a national endeavour that would help:

  • Accelerate research evidence into care;
  • Validate what works and what doesn’t; and
  • Share best practices amongst provinces to allow their scaling across Canada.

Today, that vision has truly become a reality. While the program is still managed by CIHR, the diversity of stakeholders involved has built a momentum and critical mass that have made SPOR a truly national initiative.

Through SPOR, we are now seeing concerted action on the part of universities, hospitals, charities, provincial and territorial governments, and various industrial sectors.

This concerted action is tangible: as you heard, partners are investing $126 million in this initiative, more than twice CIHR’s investment. But it’s not only the money; it is the deep involvement of partners in making this research initiative a truly impactful one that has to be acknowledged here.

I am particularly pleased by the academic and private sector involvement in these Networks, and I would like to especially acknowledge the universities, research hospitals, and industry partners that made such generous contributions to these projects.

This widespread collaboration and investment demonstrates that these areas of chronic disease research are a collective priority. From diabetes to cancer, from hypertension to dementia, these are the diseases that more and more Canadians are facing given the aging of our population. These are challenges for which we rely on research to provide concrete solutions.

Before I end my remarks, I want to offer my congratulations to all of the funded researchers and their teams. In each of these Networks, we have a collection of extraordinarily talented individuals, all dedicated, in the spirit of David Sackett’s approach, to turning clinical research into a scientifically sound and practical, multidisciplinary “team sport” that will change the quality of health care.

CIHR is proud to support their outstanding work.

Thank you! Merci!

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