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Canada's scientists can pitch projects that bridge artificial intelligence, health research

Government of Canada investing close to $25M in innovative projects that will deliver new technologies to Canadians and unlock the power of AI to tackle chronic health issues

OTTAWA, June 13, 2018 /CNW/ - Artificial intelligence is changing the way Canadians live; it's in our cars and computers, our smartphones and apps. All the more reason to unlock the power of AI to address some of the greatest health challenges Canadians face.

Today, while visiting the University of Ottawa's Heart Institute, Parliamentary Secretary for Science, Kate Young, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and to the Minister of Health, Bill Blair, launched the next Collaborative Health Research Project (CHRP) competition.

Previous CHRP competitions have traditionally brought together engineers, those working in the natural sciences, and health researchers, who combine their talents to bring real-world solutions to real-world problems in the health sector. Under this new competition, valued at $24.875M, social scientists and humanities researchers will, for the first time, be encouraged to join research teams applying for funding. Almost $6M of the total available funds will be targeted to projects that investigate the ethical, legal, and societal impacts associated with the development and spread of AI in the health sector.

The new competition was launched as the Parliamentary Secretaries announced the latest round of CHRP funding recipients. More than $20M will support 30 research teams across Canada that are working to address issues such as vision loss, Alzheimer's, heart disease, and cancer. Their collaborations will lead to new inventions and therapies that can be placed in the hands of Canada's doctors and nurses who are on the front line of treating patients. The result will be new ideas and technologies in the health care sector that will improve the health and well-being of Canadians, while creating new jobs and boosting the economy.  

Dr. Erik Suuronen, a researcher at the Heart Institute, is one of the recipients of today's CHRP funding. He and his team will use this investment to develop new ways of repairing tissue and restoring function to the heart, improving the long-term health of Canadians with heart disease. In Canada, heart disease and heart attacks are the second-leading cause of death. Current treatments can restore circulation and improve patient outcomes, but they fail to prevent the loss of heart tissue.

The Collaborative Health Research Project program unites the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) in order to bring cutting-edge science to the front lines of health care. This interdisciplinary nature of the program is the key to its success.


"Our Government is committed to improving the health of Canadians by leveraging Canada's technology, research and development fields. The excellent work of our engineers and health scientists continue to push the limits of what we are capable of in our health care systems. Today, the Government is also encouraging researchers working in artificial intelligence to apply their knowledge to Canadian health sciences. Congratulations to the recipients of these grants. Your hard work will improve the lives of Canadians for years to come!"

Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

"Canada is home to some of the world's leading engineers, health researchers, and natural scientists. Today's announcement empowers them to work together to address some of our most pressing issues in health. I have no doubt their teamwork will harness the power of new and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, in ways that will create jobs, strengthen the economy, and, ultimately, save lives."

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan
Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

"I'm truly impressed by the ingenuity of the researchers receiving funding through the CHRP program. Not only are these scientists creating devices and technologies that would have been unthinkable a generation ago – they're also working with end-users in the planning and design of their research to ensure in translates into real-world solutions."

Bill Blair
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and to the Minister of Health         

"An investment in our health and research is a strong investment in our country's future. It's inspiring to witness the projects being recognized today, in areas such as heart disease research and gene therapy. By supporting such innovative work, we are helping Canada claim its position as a global leader in health technology."

Kate Yong
Parliamentary Secretary for Science  

"Congratulations to the recipients of the CHRP grants. Your research speaks to what is possible when researchers reach across disciplines to collaborate. I'm inspired by your use of advancements in engineering and technology to address the health care challenges facing Canadians."

Roderick McInnes, CM, MD, PhD, FRSC
Acting President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

"CHRP is highly valued for strengthening the dynamic between research and innovation and building closer ties between research communities. Connecting interdisciplinary researchers with strategic stakeholders will lead to better health care outcomes, optimal technologies, and highly qualified trainees for the benefit of all Canadians. Congratulations to all CHRP recipients."

Dr. B. Mario Pinto
President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada 

"SSHRC is pleased to be participating for the first time in this initiative, which will lead to cutting-edge knowledge about the important societal impacts of AI. CHRP is an example of the kind of interdisciplinary and collaborative research with stakeholders across all sectors that produces innovative results for Canadians, and profiles the many ways in which social sciences and humanities research addresses critical questions about our complex and challenging times."

Dr. Ted Hewitt
President, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Associated links

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

NSERC invests over $1.2 billion each year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada. Our investments deliver discoveries – valuable world-firsts in knowledge claimed by a brain trust of over 11,000 professors. Our investments enable partnerships and collaborations that connect industry with discoveries and the people behind them. Researcher-industry partnerships established by NSERC help inform research & development and solve scale-up challenges.

NSERC also provides scholarships and hands-on training experience for more than 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows. These young researchers will be the next generation of science and engineering leaders in Canada.

SSHRC is the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports post-secondary–based research and research training in the humanities and social sciences. The agency plays an important role in Canada's research landscape and is committed to fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in the sciences. SSHRC invests over $380 million annually, supporting more than 8,500 graduate students and 20,000 researchers.


SOURCE Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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