Government of Canada announces new clinical trials consortium, training platforms, and research projects to improve the health of Canadians

News release

January 19, 2023—Hamilton, Ontario—Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Clinical trials allow researchers to assess the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, treatments, and therapies for our population. It is through these studies and their collaborative networks, that medical innovation in Canada continues to evolve.

As part of Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy (BLSS), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Clinical Trials Fund (CTF) will be foundational in ensuring that Canadians are well served by a national clinical trials network that fosters all aspects of therapeutics development, from discovery through to delivery.  It will be crucial to preparedness for future pandemics or other health emergencies and to grow a strong life sciences sector.

Today, the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced a new investment to support one clinical trials consortium, seven training platforms, and 22 research projects. This is Canada’s largest-ever investment in clinical trials.

The Accelerating Clinical Trials Consortium, led by Dr. PJ Devereaux (Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences) along with hundreds of researchers from across the country, is expanding existing clinical trial networks and helping to create new networks that will improve collaboration, knowledge sharing, efficiency, quality, and the number of clinical trials in Canada. This Pan-Canadian consortium is receiving $39M for its activities.

Seven training platforms are receiving a combined investment of over $32M to train a new generation of scientists and researchers in such specialties as biostatistics, stroke research, behavioural change, and the general practice of clinical research. One of them is the Canadian Consortium of Clinical Trial Training platform. This collaborative initiative led by Dr. Jean Bourbeau (Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre) is addressing the critical need for training and mentoring of clinical research professionals to fill gaps across our public institutions and biotechnology industries.

Approximately $60M is being awarded to 22 projects to fund clinical trial phases, designs, and objectives that align with the priorities of the BLSS. Highlights of this major funding stream include:

  • Dr. Fiona Smaill (McMaster University) and researchers from Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec, as well as the city of Manchester, England, are evaluating the safety and effectiveness of an inhaled aerosol vaccine that can help break the cycle of new COVID-19 variants, waning vaccine immunity, transmission, and infection. 
  • Dr. Ewan Goligher (University Health Network) and researchers in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States, are working on a new approach to stop patients from developing lung damage from ventilators.
  • Dr. Natasha Kekre (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute) is joining forces with research institutions and governmental organizations in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan to explore the potential of modified T-cells to fight particularly resistant forms of blood cancer.
  • Dr. Todd Lee (McGill University) is collaborating with researchers from Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK to evaluate multiple treatment strategies for staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infection to assess the effectiveness of different combinations of antibiotics in a randomized controlled trial.
  • Dr. Srinivas Murthy (University of British Columbia) is working with researchers from Canada, Colombia, and the United States, to improve care for the sickest patients in the hospital, by supporting those with community-acquired pneumonia.
  • Dr. Nicola Wright (University of Calgary) and researchers from Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and the city of Los Angeles, United States, are paving the way for gene therapy in Canada, using a therapy for the genetic disorder C3delta SCID as a pilot for a gene therapy framework.

The CTF ensures that Canada is well-positioned to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines and therapies that protect Canadians against future health emergencies. The direct impact of these investments will also contribute to fulfilling our vision of a healthier future for all.


“The Clinical Trials Fund is not only helping strengthen the innovative research across the country, it is also driving important health interventions that will improve health outcomes for Canadians. With the pan-Canadian clinical trials consortium, several training platforms, and 22 projects ranging from gene therapy to cancer treatments to new vaccines, this initiative is starting strong and demonstrates the need for sustained clinical funding in Canada.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“Today’s announcement will make McMaster University home to Canada’s largest-ever clinical trials investment. The Accelerating Clinical Trials Consortium will create profound and long-term results on Canada’s ability to create new medicines, treatments and therapies that will ensure Canadians are receiving world-class care.”

The Honourable Filomena Tassi
Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas

“Clinical trials help get lifesaving drugs to market. With these new investments, Canadian researchers will have an opportunity to innovate and develop much-needed treatments right here in Canada. Strengthening the clinical trials ecosystem is an essential part of our government’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, better preparing us for the future.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The funding provided through the CTF breaks new ground in clinical trials and is fundamental to CIHR’s commitment to ensuring the best health for all through research excellence. This is a pivotal step that will increase the number and quality of clinical trials, build capacity, improve collaboration, and get results into the hands of doctors, nurses, health officials and policymakers faster for the benefit of Canadian patients.”

Dr. Michael J. Strong
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Quick facts

  • A clinical trial is a research study involving human participants that evaluates the safety and/or effects of one or more interventions on health outcomes.

  • The CTF earmarked $250M to reinforce Canada’s clinical trials infrastructure, training, and research.

  • The CTF is part of Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, which is investing $2.2 billion in funding across a range of programs to grow a strong, competitive domestic life sciences sector with cutting edge biomanufacturing capabilities and to ensure preparedness for pandemics or other health emergencies.

  • Other competitions have been launched under the Strategy so far. These competitions include the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund (BRIF) call upgrades to bio-containment facilities and the integrated BRIF/ Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) program to establish Research Hubs across Canada and to fund projects associated with these hubs, with the objective of strengthening the research systems and the talent pipeline. In addition, the Strategic Innovation Fund at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) continues to make significant industrial investments in biomanufacturing and life sciences.

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Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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.

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