Canada’s scientists encouraged to pitch projects that bridge artificial intelligence, health research

News release

Government of Canada investing more than $24M in innovative projects that will deliver new technologies to Canadians and unlock the power of AI to tackle chronic health issues

June 13, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Artificial intelligence (AI) 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.

A new Collaborative Health Research Projects competition has been launched with the goal of bridging artificial intelligence, health research and, for the first time, the social sciences and humanities. This fresh approach to research funding will encourage greater collaboration across disciplines that will produce new medical practices and technologies. More than $24M is on the table, of which almost $6M is being reserved for projects that investigate the ethical, legal, and societal impacts associated with the spread of AI through the health sector.

The competition was highlighted today at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. She made the announcement on behalf of Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, and Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health. During the announcement, the Minister recognized Canada’s scientists and scholars for their collaboration and outside-the-box thinking.

The Minister also took the opportunity to highlight the latest round of CHRP funding recipients. Thirty research teams from across Canada will receive more than $20M 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 of these research projects will also lead to new ideas and technologies in the health care sector that will improve the well-being of Canadians, while creating 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.

The Collaborative Health Research Project program unites the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to bring cutting-edge science to the front lines of health care.

Quotes

“Our Government is committed to improving the health of Canadians by leveraging Canada’s technology, research and development fields. Our engineers and health scientists continue to push the limits of what we are capable of in our health care systems. Today, we are encouraging them to combine their efforts and unlock the power of artificial intelligence to improve health research in Canada.”
- Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“Canada is home to some of the world’s leading natural scientists and engineers, health researchers, social scientists, and humanities scholars. Today’s announcement empowers them to cross boundaries 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

“An investment in the health researchers at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute is an investment in the future of our community and our country. These scientists are creating technologies that would have been unthinkable a generation ago and then putting them in the hands of the doctors and nurses who are committed to helping and healing their patients.”
- The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada

“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

Contacts

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
613-941-4563
mediarelations@cihr-irsc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
613-943-7618
martin.leroux@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

Julia Gualtieri
Media Relations Advisor
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
613-944-4347
Julia.gualtieri@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca

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.


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