Researchers, patients and government come together
The conversation on new reform from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that impacts federal research funding continues.
We commend Minister Philpott for her request for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to convene a working meeting with key representatives of the research community to find common ground and move forward with solutions that address the issues around the quality and integrity of CIHR’s peer review system.
Minister Philpott’s actions are in response to views expressed within the health research community, and from patient organizations like Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE).
All stakeholders in healthcare – governments, researchers, clinicians and patients – have an obligation to consider the impact of changes to the CIHR and Canada’s world-class standing in the scientific community and the benefits of health research for all Canadians.
Below is the message from Minister Philpott to Canada’s health research community:
Message from the Minister of Health to Canada’s health research community
I have noted with growing concern the views that have been expressed within the health research community about changes being implemented at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, including the new online peer review process.
I expect CIHR to ensure that the very best health research across all pillars is funded according to the highest international standards of research excellence. As a result, I have asked CIHR to convene a working meeting in the very near future with key representatives of the research community, including those who have raised this issue publicly, to find common ground and move forward with solutions that address the issues raised with regard to the quality and integrity of CIHR’s peer review system.
The results of this working meeting will be an important input to the work of Dr. David Naylor and the Advisory Panel for the Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science, which will provide its report later this year.
I look forward to working with Minister Duncan and to receiving the Panel’s advice about how to maintain Canada’s world-class standing in the scientific community and about how to ensure that federal support for research is strategic and effective. I have already ensured that the issues surrounding CIHR and its reforms will be considered by the panel, and I look forward to their advice.
Minister of Health
Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, responded to Minister Philpott’s address with the following message:
Message from Dr. Alain Beaudet to Canada’s health research community
July 5, 2016
As announced by Minister Jane Philpott in her message to Canada’s health research community, CIHR will convene a working meeting in the very near future to discuss the quality and integrity of CIHR’s new peer review processes. This meeting will allow representatives of the research community and CIHR an opportunity to review and address the concerns raised by health researchers and peer reviewers. CIHR has already received many useful suggestions on how to improve the current peer review processes and, by openly sharing our concerns and objectives, we are confident that we will be able to find a resolution that is satisfactory for all.
As you know, CIHR embarked on the reform of its open funding programs and peer review process to improve the sustainability of our health research system, the transparency and fairness of our granting processes, and the quality and impact of the research supported by federal investments. However, the online system implemented to ensure an unbiased and tailored evaluation of each research proposal has raised serious concerns among applicants and reviewers alike. These concerns must be addressed since CIHR can only be successful if it has the support and confidence of the research community. This working meeting represents an important next step toward re-establishing that support and confidence.
Given the current situation, please note that the funding opportunities for our investigator-initiated programs (originally scheduled for June 30) are being delayed until after the working meeting has taken place. CIHR is fully aware that the community needs this information and we commit to announcing a new date as quickly as possible. We also intend to maintain the original application deadlines and funding dates.
Alain Beaudet, MD, PhD
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
ACE urged patients to write an open letter to the Minister of Health on June 29. Thank you to everyone who wrote to express their views.