Message from the President

2020 has been a year that has demonstrated to the world the importance of health research.  It has also been a year that has called on us to find new ways to work together, and to unite in a common cause to protect Canadians and people throughout the world.  I know that this has not been easy, and for many, it has come at a cost to not only your research programs but to you personally.  It has been a period of time unlike anything that any of us have experienced before.

Yet at every turn, when we reached out for your help – whether to support peer review under challenging conditions, to retool your research to address the pandemic, or to provide timely advice – you were there to assist with remarkable dedication and poise.  We could never have offered a virtual model of peer review for our funding competitions without your dedication to the pursuit of research excellence.  The time will come when we will look critically on this past year for lessons learned, but even as we continue to learn with each new challenge, please know how much your contributions have meant to me and all of my colleagues at CIHR. While the pandemic is not done with us yet, this epoch will forever be remembered as a period of great achievement for Canadian researchers.  For this, I am deeply grateful to all of you.

I know that many of you remain concerned about the health and stability of your own research programs.  I hear this in the voices of my colleagues, not just at my own university, but amongst colleagues and friends across our country as well.  I see it in the literature arising worldwide about the deep damage that the pandemic is doing to research programs, and how it has exposed the inequities of our research funding systems.  Please know that while CIHR has played a critical role in the whole-of-Government response to the pandemic, we have also worked tirelessly to ensure that all funding directed to the pandemic is new funding, leaving our core research funding intact. I commit to continuing to do all that we can in the coming year to support Canadian researchers as broadly as possible and to address these inequities.  As we move forward, we will also take the lessons learned from the pandemic and strive to continuously support and grow our health research ecosystem. 

Looking toward the coming year, all of us at CIHR are very excited about the launch of our new Strategic Plan in early 2021.  As we implement the priorities and strategies outlined in this plan, it is important that we continue to work together as a community.  The plan was the result of the longest, most comprehensive consultation in CIHR’s 20-year history, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure its success.

I hope that this holiday season will be one of rest and relaxation for you, your families, and your friends.  For those of you who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, our thoughts are with you.  May you all find peace in knowing how much you are collectively contributing to bringing this difficult period to an end.

Together, we will see in a New Year filled with hope for a healthier future.  In the meantime, please stay safe.

With my very best wishes,

Michael J. Strong, MD, FRCP, FCAHS, FAAN
President, CIHR

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