Government of Canada invests in new international research network

News Release

Canadian and Dutch researchers to work together to develop targeted therapies for childhood arthritis

February 17, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Arthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions in children. It causes joint pain, swelling, and fatigue, and can have a significant impact on a child's health, activity level and quality of life.

Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced that the Government of Canada is co-funding a new international research network that will support collaboration between Canadian and Dutch researchers. These researchers will develop new treatments and treatment guidelines for children living with arthritis.

Dr. Rae Yeung from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and Dr. Nico Wulffraat from Utrecht University will lead the Canada-Netherlands Personalized Medicine in Immune Mediated Inflammatory Musculoskeletal Disease (UCAN CAN-DU) network. The research team will analyze current biological therapies of arthritis for children and develop new ones without the side effects of existing treatments. Results will be shared with families, physicians and policymakers, which could lead to cost benefits for children living with this chronic condition.

The network will be supported with funding of $8 million over six years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and ZonMw (the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) and Reumafonds (the Dutch Arthritis Foundation).


"The Government of Canada is pleased to support this important new research collaboration with the Netherlands. The work of this new research network promises to benefit children in Canada, the Netherlands, and around the world."
- Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

"It is a privilege for the CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis to help support Dr. Yeung and Dr. Wulffraat through the Personalized Medicine in Immune Mediated Inflammatory Musculoskeletal Disease network. Their UCAN CAN-DU research network will improve the targeting of therapies for children who suffer from arthritis. This initiative also demonstrates the significant value of international partnerships and networks in finding new approaches to diagnose and treat chronic, debilitating diseases."
- Dr. Hani El-Gabalawy
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis

"ZonMw is enthusiastic to fund this novel international research network. This will be a tremendous benefit for young arthritis patients and hopefully lead to personalized medicine funding networks for other diseases around the world."
- Henk Smid
Director, ZonMw

"Reumafonds believes UCAN CAN-DU will help researchers develop further innovations in arthritis research and help doctors properly diagnose it among patients. While this will be a benefit for the research and medical community worldwide, it will also improve the quality of life among young patients."
- Lodewijk Ridderbos
Chief Executive Officer, Reumafonds

Quick Facts

  • According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, arthritis affects 1 in 1,000 children in Canada. In North America and Europe, the prevalence is 4 to 16 in 10,000, according to the National Institutes of Health.
  • The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), will invest $5 million in UCAN CAN-DU research network, and ZonMw and Reumafonds will invest $3 million for a total of $8 million over six years.

Associated Links


Andrew MacKendrick
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Matet Nebres
Manager, Media Relations
Hospital for Sick Children

Mariëtte van Wijk
Communications, ZonMw
070 - 349 53 42

Lavina Jamanica-Gerretsen
Coordinator, Press & Publicity, Reumafonds
020 589 64 64

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