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$62M in funding for new research networks that tackle chronic diseases


Ottawa, ON – Through the federal government’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) is providing a total of $62.25 million to support five new pan-Canadian research networks in chronic disease over five years.

The networks will connect researchers, health professionals, policy makers and patients across the country to improve the health of Canadians living with chronic diseases. They will address research priorities identified by patients and accelerate the translation of research findings into patient care and health care policy. The focus areas of the research include diabetes, chronic pain, child disability, gastrointestinal disorders, and chronic kidney disease.

Each network is receiving a $12.5 million grant over five years from the CIHR as well as a total of $126 million from partners, including universities, hospitals, industry, health charities, and provincial agencies.

The five new networks are as follows:

Inflammation, Microbiome, and Alimentation: Gastro-Intestinal and Neuropsychiatric Effects: the IMAGINE-SPOR Chronic Disease Network, hosted at McMaster University.

This network will look at how gut bacteria and diet cause inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome and at the anxiety and depression associated with these disorders.

This national, large-scale research project will be led by Stephen Vanner, clinician-scientist at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) and a professor at Queen’s University, and Paul Moayyedi, professor of medicine and clinical research lead of McMaster University’s Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.

Composed of 88 researchers at 17 centres, the network will assemble 6,000 patients and 2,000 healthy subjects across Canada, making it the largest-ever study group for gastrointestinal disease in Canada. The aim is to develop new treatments, from dietary changes and probiotics to fecal transplants, antibiotics and other therapies that improve both physical and mental health of IBD and IBS sufferers.

Chronic Pain Network, hosted at McMaster University.

This network will direct new research, train researchers and clinicians, increase access to care for chronic pain sufferers, and speed up the translation of the most recent research into the reality of care.

The network will be led by Dr. Norm Buckley, professor and chair of anesthesia for McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care.

Listening, Learning, Leading: Canadians Seeking Solutions and Innovations to Overcome Chronic Kidney Disease (Can-SOLVE CKD), hosted at the University of British Columbia.

A B.C. team will co-lead the five-year, $59-million initiative that is Canada’s largest-ever effort to improve care for people with chronic kidney disease. It aims to reduce the number of people who need dialysis or organ transplants, or who develop related illnesses that are debilitating or deadly.

In addition to CIHR’s funding, 30 other organizations, including the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Society of Nephrology, are providing $46.5 million in funds or in-kind support. Several other Canadian universities are participating in one or more of the projects. Dr. Adeera Levin, who is head of the division of nephrology at the University of British Columbia and executive director of the BC Renal Agency, is co-leading the project with the University of Calgary’s Dr. Braden Manns.

Dr. Levin is also a consulting nephrologist at St. Paul’s Hospital, a scientist with the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, and president of the International Society of Nephrology.

CHILD-BRIGHT: Child Health Initiatives Limiting Disability- Brain Research Improving Growth and Health Trajectories, hosted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.

This network will achieve brighter futures for children with brain-based developmental disabilities and their families by creating novel interventions to optimize development, promote healthy outcomes, and deliver responsive and supportive services across the life-course.

It is being led by principal investigator Dr. Annette Majnemer, who is occupational therapist and senior scientist from the Child Health and Human Development Program at the RI-MUHC, based at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC and vice-dean of education at the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. She is also the director of the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy at McGill University. “This total investment of $25 million will allow us to work together and focus on the goal of achieving a brighter future for children with brain-based development disabilities and their families,” she said.

The CHILD-BRIGHT network will be co-directed by the BC Children’s Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

SPOR Network in Diabetes and its Related Complications, hosted at the University Health Network and University of Toronto.

This network will transform the health outcomes of individuals with diabetes and its related complications. The network will be co-led by Professor Gary Lewis, director of the Banting & Best Diabetes Centre at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist with the University Health Network, and Professor Jean-Pierre Després, scientific director of the Cardiology Division of the Quebec Heart and Lung institute, director of science and innovation at Alliance santé Québec and a professor of kinesiology at Université Laval.

The network will be based in Toronto at the University Health Network and University of Toronto. The other partner organizations are Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval, Université de Montréal, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Manitoba, and the University of New Brunswick.

“These networks will produce innovations that improve the health of Canadians and position Canada as a global leader in research on these chronic diseases,” said Dr. Alain Beaudet. CIHR’s president. “We thank all the partners supporting these networks for their strong commitment and generous contributions.”

More details about the networks can be found on CIHR’s website.