Canada’s Health Research Foundation (HRF) is a non-profit organization that invests in health research in Canadian academic centres, and promotes the benefits and values of research-driven health innovation in Canada. Innovative Medicines Canada members generously contribute a million dollars annually to the HRF ensuring such research will continue to benefit Canadians for years to come.
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Making a difference for fifty years and counting.
Founded in 1964 by Innovative Medicines Canada, the HRF makes significant annual investments in research and innovation. In doing so, we contribute directly to the great quality of life that Canadians enjoy and cherish, including our nation’s health care system.
A proud fifty year history continues today. HRF investments to date—in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research—have resulted directly in over $30 million in funding to more than 1,700 researchers across Canada. And additional new funding is granted by HRF every year.
Why? Because what we do is about more than providing steady funding for world-class health research, it’s about an investment in our fellow Canadians, and in what matters to all of us.
Our pledge to Canadians.
At HRF, we pledge to you to ensure world-class research for which all Canadians can be proud. That’s why, for every program we implement and investment we make, we conduct a thorough review, ensuring that it:
- supports research applying the highest standards of scientific excellence,
- aligns with improving patient outcomes and sustainable healthcare,
- leverages expertise through strategic partnerships, and
- promotes the value of health research in Canada.
HRF@50: a tradition that continues.
In 2014, the HRF proudly marked its 50th anniversary—five decades of investment and achievement in health research in Canada. At a glance, Canadians can see for themselves how our steady investments over generations continue to make a difference in improving quality of life for all in this country we share.
From the beginning—back in June 1964, when it was created to support clinical research and increase the capacity for research in Canada—the HRF has been dedicated to investing in quality research. Moving forward deeper into the 1960s and then the early 1970s, this foundation also began issuing grants for research, fellowships, and research-unit support. As clinical pharmacology units became a priority in Canadian research, so too did the focus of HRF research—always with an unwavering attention to quality. Investments in this area became regarded as centres of excellence where good clinical studies could be done and individuals could be trained in clinical research methodology.
From 1975 to 1985, a substantial investment was made in equal partnership with leading Canadian universities to develop pharmacology units. The outcome: six new clinical pharmacology units across Canada established at Hotel Dieu at Université de Montréal, the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, London’s University Hospital, the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. Five of these resulted in new pharmacology units. The existing unit at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children was enlarged. In addition, the Montreal General Hospital and the Clinical Research unit at Toronto’s Addiction Research Foundation received essential funding from the foundation.
New investments in the 1980s meant jobs for the newly-trained researchers in Canada. In 1986, the Career Award Program was developed, designed for these new researchers who were coming out of the units that the Foundation had helped establish. Successful universities were provided five-year awards to employ young investigators to support trained researchers to remain in Canada. The Career Awards Program quickly led to the establishment of the Pharmacy Fellowship Program, established to support pharmacists to conduct post-doctoral research in the areas of therapeutics or drug evaluation.
New co-founding in 1990s began as the HRF launched a comprehensive awards program jointly with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. This important program promoted scientific research and experimental development in the health sciences. It placed emphasis on medicines, including clinical pharmacology, toxicology and other disciplines in the science of therapeutics.
In all, there were eight awards programs: Research Career Awards in Health Sciences; Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Pharmacy; Graduate Research Scholarships in Pharmacy; Graduate Research Scholarships in Pharmacology; Summer Research Studentships in Medicine; Summer Research Studentships in Pharmacy; MD/PhD Research Scholarship; and Bourse Robert Dugal Graduate Scholarship in Pharmaceutical Sciences.
A new era began in 2006, as the HRF changed the focus of its research support program to provide three-year thematic research grants of one million dollars to well-developed research teams. These were based on the priorities identified by Innovative Medicines Canada members, the HRF Scientific Advisory Committee, and our health research partners.
To date, four thematic grants have been provided to research groups across Canada:
- 2007-2010: Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Control;
- 2008-2011: Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment;
- 2009-2012: Mental Health—Co-morbidity of Brain Disorders and Other Health Problems; and
- 2010-2013: Aboriginal Health Research.
Our fifty-year tradition continues today with the HRF’s investments in research and programs. Find out more.
Our Board: skills and leadership.
A fifty-year traditional of investing in excellence in health research begins by having professional skills and leadership to guide the foundation’s decisions. That’s why the HRF is especially proud of its board members. Each member contributes to creating a wining mix of executive management skills, comptrollership, clinical knowledge and corporate leadership to help guide the HRF in making sound decisions.
Mel Cappe is a Professor in the School of Public Policy and Governance. He teaches in the Masters Program and is Coordinator of the Undergraduate Program in Public Policy. From 2006-2011 he was President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. Prior to that for four years he was High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom. Mr. Cappe has also served as Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service in Ottawa. Earlier in his career he held senior economic and policy positions in the Departments of Finance and Industry. He was Deputy Secretary to the Treasury Board, Deputy Minister of the Environment, Deputy Minister of Human Resources Development, Deputy Minister of Labour and Chairman of the Employment Insurance Commission. He did graduate studies in Economics at the Universities of Western Ontario and Toronto and has honourary doctorates from both. He is currently an Officer of the Order of Canada and has a strong interest in healthcare. Mr. Cappe is a Member of the Board of the Canadian Partnership against Cancer and the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium.
Alok Kanti is the President & CEO of Bayer Inc. in Canada (appointed in August 2015). Mr. Kanti started his professional career with Bayer in June 1994 and since has gained a wealth of experience in regional management, commercial operations, strategic marketing and country division management. Alok has worked in various leadership positions, including Regional Head for Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Asia Pacific. Most recently, Alok was Managing Director of Bayer HealthCare China, where he helped Bayer build a leading position in the world's third-largest healthcare market. Alok obtained his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from University of Delhi in 1989 and his master's degree in Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management in 1994.
Innovative Medicines Canada welcomed Elaine Campbell as Interim President of the association, starting June 13, 2016.
Ms. Campbell brings with her 26 years of experience in the pharmaceutical sector, most recently as President and CEO of AstraZeneca Canada Inc., one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies. This appointment afforded Ms. Campbell the opportunity to sit on Innovative Medicines Canada’s Board of Directors, where she worked closely with industry and association colleagues on improving the Canadian environment for the discovery, development and delivery of new medicines.
Dr. Tom Koutsavlis
Member of the Board and Scientific Advisory Council
Appointed Medical Director of Shire Canada, Dr. Koutsavlis has over two decades of academic, research and clinical experience. Prior to joining Shire, he was Medical Director at Abbott and Director Medical Affairs, Business Operations and Emerging Therapies at Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, as well as Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Paladin Labs. He also served as Associate Medical Director and Program Director with CroMedica Inc., and Acting Senior Medical Director with PRA International Inc. in Ottawa. Dr. Koutsavlis has held positions in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, and the Montreal Regional Public Health Directorate. He earned a Master of Science (Epidemiology and Biostatistics), and a Doctor of Medicine from McGill University and is both a Quebec College- and Royal College-certified specialist physician in Community Medicine. In addition, he holds a Master of Business Administration from the John Molson School of Business.
Dr. Clarissa Desjardins
Member of the Board
Dr. Desjardins holds a Ph.D. in Neurology and Neurosurgery from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and is currently the CEO of Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc. Formerly she was the CEO of the Centre of Excellence in Personalized Medicine. She also previously founded Advanced Bioconcept, a reagent and diagnostics company, and co-founded Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biotechnology company focused on proteomic biomarker discovery and drug development. Dr. Desjardins received the BRIO award for outstanding contributions to the biotechnology industry from the Quebec Biotechnology Association, was nominated to Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award, and was named one of Canada’s top young Canadians likely to influence the future by The Globe and Mail.
Dr. Lorne Tyrrell
Member of the Board
Dr. Lorne Tyrrell holds the CIHR/GSK Chair in Virology in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Alberta. He is also the Founding Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology. He has focused his research since 1986 on viral hepatitis. Dr. Tyrrell was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry from 1994-2004. Since leaving the Deanship in 2004, Dr. Tyrrell has taken on a number of important positions in healthcare in Alberta and in Canada. These include the Chair of the Board of the Institute of Health Economics and the Chair of the Board of the Health Quality Council of Alberta (2003-2012). He is the Chair of the Gairdner Foundation Board and serves on the Research Advisory Council for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
Alison Sargent is currently the Executive Director, Engagement at Innovative Medicines Canada. In addition to managing the Association's health research foundation, Alison works with various partners to create a better environment for clinical trial investment in Canada. For over a decade Alison has provided extensive strategic and management consulting to the non-profit sector building significant expertise in board governance, fundraising, event planning, stakeholder engagement and financial management.
As an Ivy League graduate, Alison holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Marketing from Cornell University as well as the professional designation of Canadian Human Resources Leader (CHRL).