What are the Canadian Cancer Society’s research priorities?
A nationwide strategic plan
for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) was formalized in 2010. This plan outlines three “Ends”, or long-term goals, that guide the mission of the CCS, including research. End 1 is focused on reducing cancer incidence; End 2 is focused on reducing mortality rates; and End 3 is focused on improving the quality of life (QOL) of those living with and beyond cancer. With respect to research, our strategic priorities for the next five years are clear: to increase
our focus on End 1 research, and maintain
our research efforts in Ends 2 and 3. While priority areas have been identified in each of those Ends, they all
include an articulated goal of supporting critical fundamental research that generates new knowledge.
What does the new CCSRI research program “look” like?
The new core CCSRI research portfolio will be designed around the Society’s three organizational “Ends” or long-term goals that guide the mission of the CCS. A key message from our consultations with the three broad research communities that serve those three Ends was that they are in different stages of development and maturity, and have different needs and priorities:
- End 1 (risk reduction and prevention research): build capacity
- End 2 (basic biomedical and translational research): sustain excellence and support innovation
- End 3 (quality of life research): bring focus to have impact
The primary goal of the End 1 research strategy is to create a more cohesive and coordinated national risk reduction and prevention research program. Specifically, it incorporated the CCSRI Prevention Initiative, CCSRI major research initiatives and regional division activities and facilitate the research-policy-practice continuum.
The primary goal of the End 2 research strategy is to build on the considerable strengths of the biomedical/translational research community by continuing to support open investigator-initiated research. The initial new programs were designed to support a scientific idea “pipeline” with a two-tier grant system that brackets the traditional operating grants offered by CIHR. Specifically the Innovation Grants program supports more innovative, creative problem solving in cancer research (high risk/high reward), while the Impact Grants program supports paradigm-shifting research programs in the continuum from basic discovery to clinical application and will be longer term and larger in size than traditional operating grants. In 2014, a third program, Innovation to Impact (i2I) was developed to build upon significant findings from a successful Innovation Grant.
The primary goal of the End 3 research strategy is to have targeted, investigator-initiated competitions in QOL research that addresses priority areas determined in consultation with the research community. The program emphasizes knowledge translation by providing an evidence base to support delivery of the most effective programs to enhance the QOL of cancer survivors and their families.
Does CCSRI still support basic biomedical research projects?
Yes. CCSRI is very committed to biomedical research. Basic research has been, still is, and will continue to be the mainstay of the research that the Canadian Cancer Society funds (~75% of the portfolio). It is a huge strength in Canada, and we are committed to sustaining excellence and supporting innovation in this mature research community.
If I am a risk reduction/prevention researcher, can I apply to “End 2” or “End 3” research programs? Can a biomedical researcher apply to “End 1” or “End 3” research programs etc.?
Yes. While the new research funding mechanisms have been designed to meet the needs of the different research communities, researchers are not restricted to applying to a particular mechanism. Researchers must clearly demonstrate how their proposals fit the criteria established for the particular program mechanism. We also anticipate and encourage multidisciplinary proposals that cross the priorities of multiple “Ends”.
How can CCSRI maintain support of biomedical/translational (End 2) and quality of life (End 3) research while increasing its investment in risk reduction and prevention research (End 1)?
Recognizing the importance of risk reduction and prevention research, the Canadian Cancer Society established the Prevention Initiative in 2009. The development of Prevention Initiative programs has been guided by our National Advisory Committee on Research in Prevention (NACORP). Prevention Initiative programs have been running since 2009, through a series of Requests for Applications (RFAs) and capacity building programs representing a total commitment of almost 6.5M in the last two years. Previously these programs have largely been funded through a dedicated pool of CCS funds that were specifically designated towards risk reduction and prevention research. Our new research portfolio better integrates the Prevention Initiative within our larger research program.
The core CCSRI research portfolio has been designed around the three organizational Ends. In order to achieve our strategic goals, research funding targets will be established for each organizational End. Our current breakdown of funding between Ends 1, 2 and 3 is 12%:80%:8%, respectively. By necessity, these percentages will change. Our five-year targets for funding within our redesigned research portfolio are: End 1 – 18-20%, End 2 – 72-75%, End 3 –7-8%. These targets are based on current, conservative revenue projections for the CCS, however opportunities for growth within different Ends would likely change these targets if additional resources became available.
How do these percentages relate to dollars? I hear that CCSRI’s budget is reducing.
The Society, like most other charities, is still experiencing the effects of the global recession. However, despite these economic challenges, we had gone to great lengths to preserve and protect the funding “envelope” for our major research programs, notably the open grants competition. We had achieved this by deliberately spending down research reserve funds more quickly than anticipated. These funds are not being replenished, thus we needed to design a research program that is financially flexible, responsible, and sustainable. Importantly, our new research portfolio will excite the public and help us raise more money for research. In addition to our “core” research program, we have been able to launch new programs in response to specific funding opportunities.
What if I have a question that’s not addressed here?
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