Recap of CIHR-III Activities in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
May 29 - 31, 2024

Enjoying a sunset view in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The last week of May was a busy one for the CIHR-III team! We organized a series of events around our Institute Advisory Board (IAB) meetings in beautiful Saskatoon, with multiple events coordinated in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan (USask) research community. After three action-packed days of meaningful engagements, productive discussions, community outreach, and team-building activities, we returned to our virtual environment feeling more inspired and energized than ever.

Our visit to Saskatoon commenced with a well-attended community engagement session to discuss the program design of our second iteration of the CIHR Research Excellence, Diversity, and Independence (REDI) Early Career Transition Award with Indigenous communities. Our deepest gratitude to Dr. Bobby Henry and the Saskatchewan NEIHR team for co-hosting the event, which sparked enriching discussions among our 40+ in-person and virtual attendees that will undoubtedly enhance the future directions of this CIHR-III led program. Special thanks to all contributors for their valuable insights, with heartfelt appreciation to SK-NEIHRs organizers, Tammy Popova and Fleur Macqueen Smith, for their kind reception and leadership. I would also like to thank Knowledge Keeper Terri Hansen-Gardiner for opening our meeting in a good way; we admire your deep commitment to the community and your dedication to driving positive change.

Following the engagement event, our CIHR-III team enjoyed a breathtaking visit to Wanuskewin Heritage Park and explored downtown Saskatoon - a rare treat for us as a virtual institute with staff across the country. At this Institute Advisory Board (IAB) meeting, we were thrilled to introduce two fantastic additions to our team: Rene Roberge, our new Events Coordinator, and Dr. Olivia Oxlade, Associate Scientific Director. Now as a solid team of ten, we look forward to engaging in more opportunities to strengthen our shared vision for CIHR-III.

This year's in-person IAB meeting featured productive discussions involving our fourteen IAB members, core staff, and invited guests and speakers focusing on the future directions of the institute and achieving strategic priority goals to enhance the health and well-being of people living in Canada. Key highlights from the meeting included a panel discussion led by Dr. Bobby Henry of SK-NEIHR on engaging with Indigenous communities, particularly those in the North, and a valuable discussion on how to appropriately assess the impact of the CIHR-III Strategic Plan and measure the success of III's investments and partnerships led by Dr. Steve Montague of Performance and Planning Exchange.

We are very grateful to USask's Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology (BMI) for co-hosting a community event to engage with the local research community. BMI representative Dr. Linda Chelico played a key role in organizing the gathering, which was well-attended by over 70 staff, faculty, and trainees. We extend a special thank you to Dr. Darcy Marcinuik, Associate VP Research for the warm reception to the University of Saskatchewan, and to Elder Harvey Thunderchild, Executive Director of Child & Family Services for opening our event with a thoughtful Indigenous blessing. The event showcased outstanding research supported by CIHR-III at USask, featuring engaging presentations by two community research associates and three early career researchers. A poster session was also held by USask trainees in the infection and immunity research space.

To conclude Day 2 of our IAB meetings, we were privileged to be given a tour of the Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO)’s cutting-edge equipment and infrastructure, which allows the advancement of impactful CIHR-funded research projects and vaccine production in Canada. We extend our appreciation to Dr. Volker Gerdts and his leadership team at VIDO for their hospitality.

My sincere gratitude to my team members, partners, and the research community at SK-NEIHRs and USask for their invaluable time and commitment. Looking forward to continued success together!

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