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$12M supports influenza research across Canada


Halifax, NS – New funding of $12 million from pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline will support an additional three years of research, monitoring the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccines by tracking the incidence and severity of disease in adults hospitalized with influenza. The research will be conducted in 40 hospitals across Canada comprising approximately 17,000 adult acute care beds, including sites in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia. Researchers representing the Public Health Agency of Canada/Canadian Institutes of Health Research Influenza Research Network (PCIRN), announced the funding for the Serious Outcomes Surveillance (SOS) Network today in Halifax, where the national research will be led.

The PCIRN SOS Network began its work in 2009 with support from the federal agencies. The network is managed by a national team of investigators led by Dr Shelly McNeil, an infectious disease specialist at Capital Health, Halifax, and associate professor, Dalhousie University.

“This significant funding from GlaxoSmithKline will help ensure that the key infrastructure we began building three years ago will continue to serve Canadians,” said Dr McNeil. “Specifically, funds will support the operation of surveillance sites at hospitals across Canada, as we focus on the evaluation of influenza and influenza vaccine effectiveness in the elderly.”

The PCIRN SOS Network also assesses the health and economic burden of influenza in Canadian adults, in order to best understand how vaccines can be used to prevent influenza disease in adults, and to understand risk factors for more severe disease. The research conducted by the network can also be used to assess the effectiveness of new vaccines as they become available.

“What we learn from clinical research evaluating the effectiveness of vaccines will make a difference not only to those at risk of serious complications from influenza, but can also help us reduce the burden on our health care systems across the country,” said Dr Ray LeBlanc, vice president, innovation and learning at Capital Health.