Presentation of the 9th Canadian Health Research Awards

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Ottawa, Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good evening.

I’m pleased to be here for this ceremony and to help mark the 10th anniversary of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Ten years later, we can say with certainty that there are more grants, more funded researchers, more trainees, and more institutions across Canada where CIHR-funded health research is taking place.

In my installation address, I spoke about wanting to promote a smart and caring Canada. A nation where all Canadians can grow their talents; where all Canadians can succeed and contribute.

To achieve that vision, I outlined three pillars: supporting families and children; reinforcing learning and innovation; and encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism.

Tonight, I would like to briefly speak about one of those pillars—learning and innovation. I cannot think of a more appropriate venue and a more appropriate audience.

After all, health research is where smart and caring intersects the meeting place between heart and head. It is where the best scientists pursue excellence in the service of their fellow human beings. And it is where innovation drives discovery.

It’s also interesting to remark that, as we see all of this research occurring, collaboration has become the new normal and that interdisciplinary approaches are now thriving. Partnerships with other research organizations and funding agencies, in Canada and internationally, as well as with the private sector have become standard operating procedure.

Let me give you an example about the importance of collaboration—across disciplines, across borders. We no longer live in a linear world, where knowledge is generated in isolation and kept in silos.

We never would have been able to make the progress we have in genomics without the developments in information technologies to store and process the vast amounts of data. Genomics research is affecting our society, influencing our lives and, potentially, changing the world. The partnership between math and biology was crucial.

These relationships also form the backbone for a vigorous exchange of knowledge between researchers and knowledge users.

And, for the second year, Prix Galien has joined the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as a partner for this annual award ceremony.

Because of CIHR’s concerted efforts and achievements in knowledge translation, it is now common to have policy teams from various levels of government working directly with health researches capable of furnishing evidence or conducting research to meet a given problem.

Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to add the observation that patients have research partners as well.

I know that Dr. Beaudet has also made considerable progress in building support for a new vision of patient-oriented research—where research is directly informed and influenced by what is happening at the bedside.

I look at this evening as a celebration of partnerships, a celebration of research excellence and a celebration of anniversaries.

Since the creation of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, there has been a notable increase in the quantity and quality of Canadian-authored health research publications. As an example, Canada is usually among the top four nations in terms of citations per paper.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Gairdner Foundation Awards. It was quite inspiring to see the dedication and the drive of the researchers. The distinguished recipients were asking the question “what if” or even “what about this”. They share the results of their studies, their findings. That is why we call them trailblazers.

To tonight’s award winners, I wish to express my congratulations and to say that, I won’t be surprised to see you again.

To CIHR, and to your partners such as Prix Galien, I am very excited to see what the next ten years hold for health research.

Thank you.