CIHR III & IPPH Collaborations on Global Health

Dear colleagues,

CIHR institutes are designed to support and mobilize research that can improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world. In particular, our two institutes – the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity (III) and the CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health (IPPH) – have a long history of working collaboratively on global health initiatives. Recently our institutes’ joint work on global health has focused on elevating social science research on infectious diseases. To that end, we wanted to take this opportunity to update you on these joint activities as well as outline some of the opportunities we are creating for Canadian researchers, practitioners and policymakers in this domain.

With the ability to examine and understand underlying factors – cultural, economic, and political – that shape both societal and individual behaviours, social sciences research is essential for preventing and responding to infectious disease threats and outbreaks. For example, a nuanced understanding of local burial practices was essential for controlling the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In support of social sciences research, III and IPPH are working with international leaders through GloPID-R, a global network of research funding organizations working to facilitate rapid research responses to outbreaks with pandemic potential. CIHR is one of 28 GloPID-R members. III Scientific Director Charu Kaushic is a co-chair of the organization and IPPH Scientific Director Steven Hoffman chairs GloPID-R’s Funders Forum for Social Science Research on Infectious Diseases (Funders Forum). Earlier this year the Funders Forum supported the launch of the European Commission-funded SoNAR-Global Network which aims to mobilize social sciences research against infectious threats. III and IPPH have worked to create opportunities for Canadian researchers to contribute to this global agenda through the Network for Global Governance Research on Infectious Diseases funding opportunity, where the successful Canadian team will be able to work collaboratively with international partners like SoNAR-Global.

Finally, this past May, the Funders Forum held a meeting at the GloPID-R General Assembly to kickstart discussions on the development of a funding agenda for social sciences research on infectious diseases. In advance of this meeting, the Wellcome Trust commissioned a report (Towards People-Centred Epidemic Preparedness & Response: From Knowledge To Action [ PDF (5.46 MB) - external link ]) on the challenges and potential of research in this domain. At CIHR we will lead the Funders Forum response to this report, specifically working towards unified priorities across relevant research funders.

CIHR’s international engagements here aim to bolster policy-relevant research on challenges with global implications while at the same time mobilizing networks of interdisciplinary researchers, research funders and policymakers to leverage the potential of social science research on infectious diseases. We will continue to collaborate with our international partners and to look for new opportunities for Canada’s research community. Applications for the current round of CIHR Planning Grants – which include a stream for global health (III and IPPH) and a stream for social science for population health (IPPH) – are due September 25, 2019. We look forward to receiving your applications!


Steven J. Hoffman JD PhD LLD
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health

Charu Kaushic PhD
Scientific Director, CIHR – Institute of Infection and Immunity

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