Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)CIHR – Centre for Research on Pandemic Preparedness and Health Emergencies (CRPPHE)Opportunities, updates and news
Funding for mpox and other zoonotic disease research to improve health outcomes
Last year, Canada experienced its first major mpox (monkeypox) outbreak, as the disease spread around the globe. As a result of climate change and the increased interconnectivity of the world through travel of people and goods, zoonotic diseases that were once only found in specific geographic areas are becoming worldwide health emergencies. Other recent examples of zoonotic diseases that have had global health impacts include HIV/AIDS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Zika virus, and COVID-19.
Building on an initial investment of CA$5.5M in December 2022 to fund joint Canada-Africa research teams focused on mpox, on May 24, 2023 the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced a further investment of CA$6.35M from the Government of Canada to fund thirteen teams across Canada to support national and global health research on mpox and other zoonotic threats. This new investment recognizes the continued risks of transmission of mpox in Canada and globally, and will work to grow our understanding of mpox transmission, evaluate potential vaccines and treatments, and build capacity in Canada to study other zoonotic diseases as they emerge.
All thirteen research projects are supported through CIHR. CRPPHE is providing funding for eleven of the mpox projects, while the HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBI) Research Initiative is funding two. Funded projects focus on the effectiveness of the smallpox vaccine against mpox, vaccination campaigns and mitigation strategies, identifying possible mammalian hosts of the mpox virus, and mathematical modelling of zoonotic disease transmission.
Post COVID-19 Condition (PCC) update
In recognition of the potential significant health, economic, and social burden of post COVID-19 condition, the CRPPHE launched a CA$20M funding opportunity in October 2022 to establish a Canadian Post COVID-19 Condition Research Network that will provide a dedicated, coordinated and scalable platform to: conduct research on the biological, clinical, mental health, health systems, and population health impacts of PCC; coordinate and collaborate with domestic and international stakeholders; and strengthen Canada’s capacity to undertake and contribute to an evidence-based and equitable response to PCC.
As announced by the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, in a news release on March 9, 2023, the Network grant will be held by Long COVID Web – a pan-Canadian network of scientists, clinicians, people with lived/living experience, knowledge keepers, policymakers, and other stakeholders. Led by Dr. Angela Cheung (University Health Network and University of Toronto), Long COVID Web aims to develop accurate diagnostics, treatments, and rehabilitation strategies for PCC and will produce evidence-based and standardized clinical practices aimed at real and lasting improvements in the lives of those with PCC. In early February 2023, CIHR organized a kick-off meeting to introduce the Long COVID Web team to key policy players in the Health Portfolio and to enable and facilitate coordination and cohesion across various Government of Canada initiatives and investments in PCC.
Training opportunities in science communication
COVID-19 increased the pressure to communicate clearly with the public. Improving science communication skills can also help to foster multidisciplinary and multi-sector collaborations, which can ultimately drive innovation. For these reasons, CIHR through the Centre for Research on Pandemic Preparedness and Health Emergencies (CRPPHE) funded 33 science communication training workshops between October 2022 and March 2023 for the research community. All workshops were virtual, many of them in English although they were also offered in French. The workshops were designed by expert trainers to meet the needs of the CIHR research community. Topics included:
- An introduction to science communication
- Science communication and social media
- Identifying and addressing mis/disinformation (on social media and elsewhere)
- Engaging youth in STEM
- Multicultural science communication
- Instagram and TikTok for #SciComm