SPOR Capacity Development Initiative

As a partner in the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, CIHR is committed to fostering patient-oriented research capacity through the introduction of the SPOR Capacity Development Initiative.

As outlined in the SPOR Capacity Development Framework, patient-oriented research capacity is a collective goal of all SPOR stakeholders. Patient-oriented research capacity means:

  • Patients have the capability and support to meaningfully contribute to and participate in research;
  • The health research enterprise supports viable career paths for patient-oriented researchers and health professionals;
  • All participants in patient-oriented research receive the proper training and support;
  • Patients, researchers, health practitioners, administrators, and policy-makers work collaboratively towards common goals; and,
  • Relevant and transformative knowledge is generated and applied to improve health outcomes.

To this end, SPOR-funded entities (e.g., SUPPORT Units, Networks, the SPOR Evidence Alliance, and Innovative Clinical Trials (iCT) Mentorship Chairs and Multi-Year Grant recipients) provide environments to host trainees and researchers, provide local and/or contextual training and scholarships, and promote and advance the science of patient engagement in health research. These activities target patients, trainees, researchers, health care professionals, and health system decision makers, all of whom have different learning needs.

There is a growing opportunity to capitalize on this wide range of work and to more systematically develop career pathways for patient-oriented researchers and create opportunities for implementation specialists (decision-makers who implement patient-oriented research principles, practices, and findings within Canadian health care contexts). Efforts to further this opportunity have resulted in the SPOR Capacity Development Initiative.


The objectives of the SPOR Capacity Development Initiative are to:

  1. Bring together a community of patient-oriented research leaders and trainees to share and innovate approaches to patient-oriented research capacity building;
  2. Increase the talent pool of patient-oriented researchers in Canada;
  3. Create a cohort of health system leaders who embed POR into their health care contexts, leading to increased uptake of POR in the health system.

Funding opportunities

The SPOR Capacity Development Initiative has two streams of funding:

  • A National Training Entity (NTE) to serve as a central body for systematic training of patient-oriented research leaders;
  • Patient-Oriented Research Awards:
    • Transition to leadership: Supports trainees transitioning from their research fellowship into independent patient-oriented research careers; and,
    • Health system: Supports implementation specialists (as defined above).
  1. National Training Entity (funding opportunity coming Summer 2019)

    A national training entity (NTE) will serve as a central body for systematic training of patient-oriented research leaders and serve as a community-building enterprise in the domain of capacity development. Key areas of focus will include:

    1. Developing knowledge and skills for the professionalization of patient-oriented research trainees, namely:
      • Accessing and deploying existing patient-oriented research curriculum in a trainee-specific manner;
      • Serving as a think tank that considers critical issues with respect to patient-oriented research capacity and develops innovative approaches or solutions;
      • Developing critical skills for future researchers, including specific knowledge of patient-oriented research and with an emphasis on leadership; and,
      • Creating personalized development plans and providing training and mentorship support to a cadre of national patient-oriented research leaders.
    2. Developing professional identity within patient-oriented research with respect to:
      • Developing a career within a patient-oriented research community (which is inclusive of patients, researchers, health care professionals, policy/decision-makers and employers);
      • Developing professional relationships within a patient-oriented research community; and,
      • Developing unique knowledge and expertise that positions individuals in the patient-oriented research community.
    3. Developing a community of mentors and coaches:
      • Connecting to patient-oriented research-focused research programs and other research settings (not necessarily traditional networks) that host trainees and early career investigators.
      • Creating a marketplace of patient-oriented research leaders who can be identified and sought by employers in research institutes and other patient-oriented research settings.
  2. Patient-Oriented Research Awards

    The following suite of awards will support training opportunities for individuals in patient-oriented research. Awardees will have the opportunity to collaborate with the NTE and with existing SPOR-funded entities.

    • Transition to Leadership Stream (funding opportunity coming Summer 2019)

      These two-phased, six-year awards aim to support the timely transition of individuals in a research fellowship into an independent research career. Phase 1 of the award will provide a stipend and an allowance for professional development and research. Phase 2 of the award will provide recipients of Phase 1 with salary support and a research allowance to launch their patient-oriented research career.

    • Health System Stream (funding opportunity coming Winter/Spring 2020)

      These two-year awards aim to provide practical training opportunities for implementation specialists to integrate patient-oriented research within Canadian health care contexts inclusive of, but not limited to, health care institutions and community settings. Examples of such individuals include policy analysts, nurse managers in hospitals, managers in different areas of health care administration, etc. These awards will be flexible and tailorable to the specific needs of the individual, community, and host organization.

Additional Information – Knowledge and Skills Essential to Patient-Oriented Research

The SPOR Capacity Development Framework describes common core competencies for all stakeholders in patient-oriented research. Building on these, award recipients will develop the following knowledge and skills over the course of their award.

Research and analytical skills:

  • Knowledge of patient-oriented research
  • Patient engagement
  • Knowledge translation
  • Understanding health systems and the policy making process
  • Management of research programs (human and material resources)

Professional skills:

  • Leadership and mentorship
  • Project management
  • Interdisciplinary work
  • Networking and collaboration
  • Dialogue and negotiation
  • Change management and implementation
  • Communication (oral and written)

For more information, please contact spor-srap@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

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