Government of Canada invests in infectious disease modelling networks

News release

New comprehensive research consortium will involve more than 150 researchers from coast to coast to coast

April 9, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario

Science and research play important roles in the continuing fight against COVID-19. The Government of Canada recognizes that when this research is carried out collaboratively by vast teams of experts, we can help protect the health and safety of Canadians today and better prepare for future pandemics.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, launched five multidisciplinary infectious disease modelling networks, with a total investment of $10 million, to strengthen ties between the academic community, industry and the public sector. The results will significantly improve the coordination of infectious disease modelling to help Canada better respond to future public health threats.

The five networks will directly support short-, medium- and long-term public health decisions by building and coordinating Canada’s national capacity. They will identify gaps that can be used to prioritize more targeted infectious disease surveillance, increase understanding of the conditions that allow diseases to spread, and identify actions that will manage these conditions most effectively. The networks will also produce tools to evaluate alternative pandemic policy responses for all sectors of the economy and aspects of society, including marginalized groups.

Established through a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the networks will work with PHAC to form a comprehensive research consortium. This collaborative effort will bolster Canada’s ability to manage pandemic threats, inform public health measures and complement PHAC’s existing modelling initiatives by allowing for vital information sharing in a timely manner.


“These multidisciplinary networks of experts across the country will strengthen Canada’s ability to manage threats from emerging and infectious diseases, protecting all Canadians from current and future pandemics. At the same time, they will help advance Canada’s equity, diversity and inclusion goals through research design and team composition, as well as training the next generation of research leaders.”
- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important it is for us to have access to breaking public health research and data. Throughout this pandemic, our response has been informed by science and evidence, leveraging Canadian expertise to guide our decision making. Building these networks within the Canadian research community will be instrumental in preparing for future public health challenges.”
- The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

“One of the fundamental pillars of science and engineering is to build and improve upon past experiences. This multidisciplinary initiative, coordinated in collaboration with our esteemed colleagues at PHAC, will take advantage of the research excellence found in Canada’s post-secondary institutions to deal more comprehensively with pandemics for the benefit of Canadians for generations to come.”
- Alejandro Adem, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Quick facts

  • The five networks receiving funding are the Canadian Network for Modelling Infectious Disease led by Dr. Caroline Colijn at Simon Fraser University; Mathematics for Public Health led by Dr. V. Kumar Murty at the University of Toronto; the One Health Modelling Network for Emerging Infections led by Dr. Huaiping Zhu at York University; the One Society Network led by Dr. Christopher McCabe at the University of Alberta; and Statistical Methods for Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases led by Dr. Patrick Brown at the University of Toronto.

  • On April 23, 2020, the Government of Canada announced more than $1 billion in support of the Plan to Mobilize Science to fight COVID-19. As part of this plan, the Prime Minister announced $10 million to support the Emerging Infectious Diseases Modelling Initiative.

Associated links


John Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Cole Davidson
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Valerie Levert-Gagnon
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

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