Canada's New Government announces more than $5 million in funding for pandemic preparedness initiatives

    WINNIPEG, April 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Steven Fletcher, MP for Charleswood-St.
James-Assiniboia and Parliamentary Secretary for Health, on behalf of the
Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, today announced more than
$5 million in funding to support initiatives to help Canada's pandemic
    The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) will provide
$4 million to fund 26 grants for health research into projects such as vaccine
development, epidemic control and the mental health of health care
practitioners in a pandemic situation. On the international front, funding of
$1 million will be provided to support the Global Action Plan for Pandemic
Influenza Vaccines.
    "Canada's New Government wants to ensure there can be a coordinated and
focused health research effort to prepare Canada for a potential pandemic
influenza. Today's announcement of more than $5 million will enable important
research to happen," said Minister Clement. "We made a strong commitment to
Canadians last May when we announced $1 billion over five years to support
ongoing pandemic preparedness efforts, including $21.5 million over five years
to CIHR to support pandemic preparedness research."
    "By providing funding for these 26 research grants, Canada's New
Government hopes to be prepared to respond to annual influenza outbreaks,
emerging new pathogens like the SARS virus, and strengthen both our healthcare
and public health systems," said Parliamentary Secretary Fletcher. "Research
done today will help protect our country from a potential pandemic outbreak
later in the future."
    The 26 health research projects funded across Canada underwent rigorous
peer-review before being approved and exemplify CIHR's comprehensive,
problem-based approach to funding excellence in health research. The funded
health research projects will be carried out over periods of two years and
include the following:

    - Dr. Robert G. Maunder (Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto) and his team will
      study how to "inoculate" health-care workers against stress to improve
      the chance they will remain on the job in the event of a pandemic.
    - Dr. Mavanur R. Suresh (University of Alberta, Edmonton) and his team
      will study new ways of making effective vaccines with less antigen
      using dendritic cells.
    - Dr. David L. Buckeridge (McGill University, Montreal) and his team will
      study data from previous flu epidemics to learn how to control the
      spread of epidemics.
    - Dr. Danuta Skowronski (BC Centre for Disease Control), in Vancouver)
      and her team will refine a novel technique to rapidly identify new
      influenza viruses and assess the effectiveness of vaccines against
      these new strains.
    - Dr. Kevin Coombs (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg) and his team will
      study how flu viruses hijack the normal functions of cells and
    - Dr. André Dascal (Jewish General Hospital and the Direction de la Santé
      Publique de Montréal, Montreal) and his team will survey Montreal-area
      health-care workers to learn more about how they would react to a
      pandemic, including whether they would show up for work.

    "Health research will help us understand the influenza virus and most
importantly, reduce its impact on the health of Canadians and people around
the world," said Dr. Alan Bernstein, president of the CIHR. "The work of these
research teams will bolster Canadian and international efforts to defeat a
potential global pandemic."
    The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with CIHR to support
the 26 projects.
    Internationally, Mr. Fletcher said the Public Health Agency of Canada
(PHAC) funding of $1 million to support the Global Action Plan for Pandemic
Influenza Vaccines would support the World Health Organization's leadership in
this area. The PHAC has been a strong supporter of the Global Action Plan
which aims to address international supply and demand issues related to
pandemic vaccines.
    "The availability of an effective vaccine in an influenza pandemic is a
pillar of Canada's preparedness plan," added Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's
Chief Public Health Officer. "It is critical that Canada be involved in the
process of developing solutions to pandemic vaccine supply."
    Canada's New Government's has invested $1 billion over five years to
support ongoing pandemic preparedness efforts, including $21.5 million over
five years to CIHR to support pandemic preparedness research in Budget 2006.
In view of the need to develop a coordinated and focused health research
effort and to build research capacity in pandemic influenza, the CIHR
Institute of Infection and Immunity established the Pandemic Preparedness
Research Strategic Initiative to identify strategic health research priorities
and support pandemic preparedness research.
    The CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity recently launched three more
Requests for Applications, which will provide a total of $17 million over
three years to support health research to further strengthen Canada's
influenza pandemic preparedness. Funded research projects will address
influenza biology and transmission, diagnostics, antivirals, vaccines, ethics,
legal and social research related to pandemic preparedness. Funding decisions
will be announced in October 2007 and April 2008.

    The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of
Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new
scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health,
more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian
health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and
support to more than 10,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

    Ce document est également disponible en français.

For further information:

For further information: The following documents are available at: Highlighted Projects Backgrounder and Funding allocation
chart (link to funding decision on web); Eric Waddell, Press Secretary, Office
of the Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; David Coulombe, CIHR Media
Relations, (613) 941-4563,; Alain Desroches,
PHAC, Media Relations, (613) 948-7970

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