Government of Canada announces funding for research to further protect Canadians from the H1N1 flu virus

    TORONTO, June 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of
Health, is pleased to announce another measure to address the H1N1 flu virus.
The Government of Canada will fund a national influenza research network
focused on pandemic vaccine evaluation. The network will strengthen Canada's
capacity to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a pandemic influenza
vaccine and vaccination programs.
    The network was created through a partnership between the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada
(PHAC). It will be led by Dr. Scott Halperin, Director of the Canadian Centre
for Vaccinology in Halifax. It will link over 80 scientists from 30 research
and public health institutions across Canada.
    "The development and delivery of an effective influenza vaccine are
critical to addressing the H1N1 flu virus, said Minister Aglukkaq. This
research network will help ensure that Canadians have a safe vaccine that can
be provided quickly."
    The network will provide a pan-Canadian coordinating mechanism for
conducting applied public health research that will help governments and the
public health community prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic.
Network scientists will:
    - test methodologies for the performance of rapid clinical trials
    - assess the safety and immunogenicity of a novel pandemic influenza
    - provide population-based estimates of vaccine safety and effectiveness
    - measure vaccine coverage
    - facilitate the rapid implementation of pandemic influenza vaccine

    "Canada is fortunate to have a strong community of
internationally-recognized infectious disease researchers," says Dr. Alain
Beaudet, President of CIHR. "Through the leadership of Dr. Bhagirath Singh,
Scientific Director of CIHR's Institute of Infection and Immunity, and in
close collaboration with PHAC, CIHR has moved swiftly to mobilize this group
of highly dedicated researchers to respond to the current flu outbreak.."
    "This flu network speaks to the very core of the Public Health Agency of
Canada's mandate to protect Canadians from the threat of emerging diseases,"
says Dr. David Butler Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, "Supporting
this initiative in partnership with CIHR gives us all an ideal mechanism to
learn more about influenza in Canada and how to improve our responses to
current and future outbreaks."

    Minister Aglukkaq also announced funding to support the work of two
national pandemic outbreak research teams:

    - Dr. Guy Boivin at Université Laval and his team will work with a
      national team to track the evolution of the H1N1 flu virus, evaluate
      its susceptibility to antiviral drugs, and identify new potential
      therapeutic compounds to combat viral resistance.

    - Dr. Babak Pourbohloul at the University of British Columbia and his
      team will work with the Canadian Consortium for Pandemic Preparedness
      Modelling to create mathematical models to rapidly analyze the
      transmission and spread of the influenza virus and evaluate the
      effectiveness of various public health intervention strategies.
    The work of these teams will help public health officials across Canada
in their efforts to plan, design and evaluate interventions to address the
virus and protect the health of Canadians. These teams are funded through
CIHR's pandemic preparedness strategic research initiative, and they were
pre-selected through a competitive, peer-review process conducted by CIHR.
    In the 2006 Federal Budget, the Government committed $1 billion over five
years to further improve Canada's pandemic preparedness. Support of $10.8
million over three years has been allocated for the network from this 2006

    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 enable 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 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

    The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is the main Government of
Canada agency responsible for public health in Canada. It was created to
deliver on the Government of Canada's commitment to help protect the health
and safety of all Canadians. Its activities focus on preventing chronic
diseases, like cancer and heart disease, preventing injuries and responding to
public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks.

    Ce document est également disponible en français.

For further information:

For further information: Josée Bellemare, Press Secretary to the Hon.
Leona Aglukkaq, (613) 957-0200; David Coulombe, CIHR Media Relations, (613)
941-4563; Shawn Murphy, PHAC Media Relations, (613) 941-8189

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