CIHR's Strategic Action Plan on Training

Since 2007, CIHR has invested approximately $1.7B, over 18% of its budget, to support Master's, doctoral, and postdoctoral trainees either directly through our various award programs or indirectly through stipends paid from grants.
In 2015-16 CIHR invested $168M in training the next generation of researchers.
In 2015-16 CIHR awarded 1,705 training awards in diverse health research areas in Canada or abroad.
  • CIHR embraces a mutli-pronged approach to health research training.
  • Since 2007, CIHR has more than doubled its support for health research trainees.
  • CIHR Institutes have been at the forefront of training innovation within their communities.
  • CIHR is committed to making important investments in health research training.
  • CIHR invests ≈ $54M/year through direct awards to trainees in diverse health research areas in Canada and abroad.
  • CIHR invests ≈ $114M/year to indirectly support trainees through stipends paid off of operating grants and strategic training programs.
  • Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) for Masters and Doctoral students (including the Vanier-CGS).
  • Fellowship programs for postdoctoral fellows (including Banting).
  • Awards in targeted areas (e.g., Fellowship in Epigenetics, Fellowships within the Clinical Trials Networks in the U.S., etc.).

Health research training is a core priority for CIHR. With the changing health research landscape, CIHR wants to ensure that its approach to training is informed by all training stakeholders to best position health research trainees for success.

Through environmental scanning, literature reviews, and consultations with training stakeholders, CIHR has identified three main challenges in the health research enterprise:

  1. Health Research is Evolving: The way we conduct health research is changing as the research questions are becoming more complex, requiring a more interdisciplinary and global approach to research, along with a technical savvy that has not been seen before; however, the majority of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows (PDFs) are still being trained the same way as their supervisor.
  2. Career Paths of Grad Students/PDFs are Changing: Recent Canadian statistics indicate that 20-40% of those who obtain a PhD will remain in academia, and 60% will find careers outside of academia; however, employers indicate that research students/PDFs are not fully prepared for careers outside of academia following their training.
  3. Expertise in Critical Areas is Lacking: Experts are needed to establish and fill Canadian priority areas of specialized expertise, i.e., data-intensive research, health professional scientists, research with/by Indigenous Peoples, entrepreneurship, and patient-oriented research.

Stakeholder discussions on the challenges and solutions have shaped a vision for Canada and underpin CIHR's Strategic Action Plan on Training.

Achieving this vision will require a diverse, dynamic, globally-linked workforce that is adaptive to the evolving research landscape, equipped to apply their talent for the broader benefit of society, and responsive to critical health issues. CIHR's Strategic Action Plan on Training sets out the following strategic goals aimed at developing this diverse and dynamic cadre of highly-qualified personnel:

Challenges in the Health Research Enterprise

Training challenge: Health Research is Evolving

Health research is increasingly complex, interdisciplinary and global

Future trainees must be: Research Leaders of Tomorrow

who can lead high-impact, interdisciplinary research in a rapidly evolving environment of advancing technologies and globalization

Training challenge: Career Paths are Changing

51,000 PhDs and 6,000 Fellows in Canada. Most (≈85%) do not secure a tenure-track position, yet not enough PhDs according to the OECD

Future trainees must be: Leaders Across Knowledge Sectors

who can apply their scholarship and talent to lead innovation across different sectors of Canada's knowledge-based economy

Training challenge: Expertise in Critical Areas is Lacking

Data-intensive research, Indigenous health research, Health-professional scientists, Patient-oriented research, Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Future trainees must be: Experts in Critical Priority Areas

who can establish and fill Canadian priority areas of specialized expertise and advance the frontiers of science.

To achieve the strategic goals of the T-SAP, CIHR has defined specific actions, which are being phased-in in collaboration with the community.

Research Leaders of Tomorrow

To equip trainees to lead high-impact, multidisciplinary health research in a rapidly evolving research landscape, CIHR aims to:

Leaders Across Knowledge Sectors

To equip trainees to apply their scholarship and talent to lead innovation across different sectors, CIHR aims to:

Experts in Critical Priority Areas

To equip trainees with specialized expertise in areas of priority as identified in CIHR's five-year strategic plan, CIHR aims to:

Data Intensive Research
Support data-intensive research capacity consortia in different fields to advance the digital readiness of our research community
Health Professional Scientists
Support health professional training platforms that create a network of health professionals engaged in research to integrate real-world experience into health innovations
Research with/by Indigenous Peoples
Support culture-rich research capacity building approaches linked to CIHR's Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples initiative and the Indigenous Mentorship Network Program to enhance the health and wellness of Indigenous peoples in conjunction with CIHR's Indigenous Health Research Action Plan.
Entrepreneurial Skills
Partner on entrepreneurial skills building to strengthen Canada's entrepreneurial environment to move health research along the innovation pipeline
Patient-Oriented Research
Continue to partner with the health system to strengthen Canadian capacity to integrate research evidence to enhance patient experiences and outcomes
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