Well-being, Health and Biomedical Discovery


Academic Unit: Inquire with Unit

Memorial Deadline: Monday 27th, April 2020

External Deadline: Monday 4th, May 2020


The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) is a national coalition of federal, provincial and territorial partners (patients and informal caregivers, provincial health authorities, academic health centres, charities, philanthropic organizations, private sector, etc.) dedicated to the integration of research into care.

Patient-oriented research (POR) refers to a continuum of research that engages patients as partners, focuses on patient-identified priorities and improves patient outcomes. This research, conducted by multidisciplinary teams in partnership with relevant stakeholders, aims to apply the knowledge generated to improve health care systems and practices.

A key enabling infrastructure for SPOR, Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units provide specialized services throughout their jurisdictions to researchers, patients, clinicians, policy makers and SPOR-funded entities to conduct POR and enable the translation of POR into health care policy and practice.

This funding opportunity will fund directed grants to existing SUPPORT Units.

To meet the criteria outlined in the Objectives section, applications must fulfill all of the core component areas:

Component 1: Data Platform and Services

This component seeks to ensure each SUPPORT Unit builds and/or maintains a data platform that incrementally adds relevant datasets within their jurisdiction and equitably provides that data to researchers, policy makers and other SPOR stakeholders, upon request and in a timely manner, in support of POR.

The SUPPORT Unit Data Platform and Services component will focus on the following key areas:

  • Acquire and manage data relevant to the conduct of POR, which includes administrative health data, clinical data and social/economic data.
    • For SUPPORT Units that do not have access to Provincial/Territorial (P/T) data holdings at the time of application, funding for this component must be exclusively directed towards: (1) the creation of a P/T data platform or (2) providing access to an existing P/T data platform in order to facilitate timely access to data for researchers within their jurisdictions.
  • Harmonize, standardize and create linkages between jurisdictional datasets on an on-going basis, prioritizing datasets that will be useful to POR.
  • Process data access requests or facilitate access to data within the jurisdiction in a timely, fair and transparent manner.
  • Support timely data access and linkage by facilitating or developing appropriate data sharing agreements within the jurisdiction. Relevant data-sharing partners may include individual researchers, research communities, Indigenous communities, research institutions and jurisdictional government agencies. For data related to Indigenous Peoples, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous self-determination and self-governance, such as following the Principles of OCAP® (a registered trademark of the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC))(i.e., ownership, control, access and possession) must be respected. For more information on Respecting the Rights, Self-Determination and Self-Governance of Indigenous Peoples, see the Additional information section.
  • Respond to data analytic service requests for POR in their jurisdictions. Please note, this criteria is exclusively available to SUPPORT Units currently providing data access in their jurisdictions.
  • Collaborate with the SPOR Canadian Data Platform to process and respond to data access requests in support of multi-jurisdictional research prioritizing the data needs for other SPOR-funded entities.
  • Collaborate with the SPOR Canadian Data Platform and the other SPOR SUPPORT Units to create a community of practice with the mandate to:
    • Identify data linkages across jurisdictions;
    • Establish common standards for data access requests;
    • Create and support a cohesive network of P/T SUPPORT Unit Data Platforms;
    • Share best practices, tools and lessons learned; and
    • Coordinate discussions around priorities and challenges.

Component 2: Learning Health System

This component will focus on fostering a learning health system environment to address P/T health research priorities. A learning health system is an integrated health system in which progress in science, informatics, and care culture align to generate new knowledge as an ongoing, natural by-product of the care experience, and seamlessly refine and deliver best practices for continuous improvement in health and health care (Charles Friedman, 2015).Through this component, the SUPPORT Unit will provide services to support a suite of activities ranging from health research priority setting to evaluation of existing P/T programs and interventions.

The SUPPORT Unit Learning Health Systems component will be expected to:

  • Develop a mechanism for regularly collating and communicating P/T health research priorities (i.e., every six months to one year) and enabling face-to-face engagement and knowledge mobilization between researchers, knowledge users and patients.
  • Provide research support services to researchers conducting knowledge syntheses, implementation science, comparative effectiveness research and program evaluation related to P/T priority areas through a transparent and competitive process, encouraging the use of appropriate knowledge translation and communications plans to ensure stakeholder engagement at all levels. For research related to Indigenous Peoples, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous self-determination and self-governance, as described in the Additional Information section, must be respected.
    • Knowledge syntheses, implementation science and evaluation projects conducted directly by SUPPORT Unit staff are eligible under this component provided they respond directly to Ministerial priorities areas, do not reduce the level of service support offered to researchers in the jurisdiction and are coordinated with the projects conducted by other SPOR SUPPORT Unit Learning Health System Leads and the SPOR Evidence Alliance to reduce duplication.
    • While the first phase of the SUPPORT Units focused heavily on capacity building in knowledge translation (KT) and knowledge synthesis (KS), the SPOR Evidence Alliance has since been funded and is providing training in these areas. It is expected that the SUPPORT Units direct future trainees to these existing resources and that any new training session be coordinated with the SPOR Evidence Alliance to reduce the possibility of duplication.
  • Provide support services to facilitate knowledge translation needs for other SPOR-funded entities such as SPOR Networks and SPOR Innovative Clinical Trial grant recipients.

Component 3: Capacity Development

This component will continue to play a critical support role by promoting POR, advancing the science of patient engagement, providing localized/contextualized training, and providing scholarships to undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral trainees. All SUPPORT Units will be required to align their capacity development activities with the existing SPOR Capacity Development Framework and continue their role in training and providing the physical or virtual training environments to patients, researchers, health practitioners, administrators, and policy makers. This work includes moving beyond traditional approaches to training by engaging stakeholders from all relevant disciplines, sectors, geographies and cultural perspectives. For training on research involving Indigenous Peoples, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous self-determination and self-governance must be respected.

For this component, support and services will include:

  • Offering POR training opportunities to trainees, researchers, patients, health care professionals, health system administrators and others within their jurisdiction.
  • Offering POR training awards, such as graduate studentships or internships, in an equitable, transparent manner. Awards that focus on embedding trainees and researchers into various multidisciplinary POR settings within the jurisdiction are encouraged.
  • Creating an appropriate environment for Indigenous trainees, researchers and patients support and mentorship. To achieve this goal, community-based approaches are important.
  • Working with the SPOR National Training Entity to:
    1. Share and/or scale up training resources and opportunities;
    2. Develop and implement a national strategy to prioritize and address capacity gaps, ensuring diverse and underrepresented perspectives are appropriately sought and integrated; and
    3. Support career pathways for trainees, early career researchers and implementation specialists in their jurisdiction, including:
      1. Developing Individual Development Plans;
      2. Creating mentoring opportunities for trainees and researchers in different POR settings; and
      3. Developing key knowledge and skills for POR SPOR Capacity Development Initiative.
  • Continuing to develop training resources and/or opportunities for specialized research skill sets stemming from their jurisdiction’s particular needs or expertise.
  • Continue building capacity for patient engagement by modeling meaningful patient engagement in SUPPORT Unit governance and within projects conducted and supported by the Unit. Further, SUPPORT Units will be expected to continue conducting and supporting research on patient engagement methods and evaluation.

Component 4: Patient Engagement

All SUPPORT Unit activities will be required to align with the SPOR Patient Engagement Framework. Patients must be meaningfully engaged in the governance bodies of the SUPPORT Units and on all research projects conducted by the SUPPORT Unit.

The following additional requirements are required for this application:

Additional Requirement 1: Working across SUPPORT Units

During the first phase of SUPPORT Unit operations, SUPPORT Unit working groups comprised of members from each SUPPORT Unit were created in the following component areas: Data, Knowledge Translation, Capacity Development and Patient Engagement. While the working groups have been well attended, it was widely acknowledged that there were limited resources available to work on collective projects together in these areas. In Phase II, all SUPPORT Units are required to dedicate resources for participation on cross SUPPORT Unit projects approved by the collective SUPPORT Unit management/leadership.

Additional Requirement 2: Providing Services to other SPOR-Funded Entities

All SUPPORT Units will be required to allocate at least 50% of their annual CIHR funding to support service needs of other SPOR-funded entities, including but not limited to the SPOR Canadian Data Platform, SPOR Networks, SPOR Innovative Clinical Trial grantees, the SPOR Evidence Alliance, and SPOR Collaboration Grantees.

  • Each Unit will be required to clearly describe a mechanism founded on consensus based, transparent and fair principles for how they plan to meet service needs, including which services are available, how requests are to be submitted to the Unit and expected service standards. The Units will be allowed to decline service requests once the allocated budget is spent. The Units will also be allowed to spend the residual funds from the in-year allocation if insufficient requests were received from the other SPOR-funded entities.

Additional Requirement 3: Governance Structure

All SUPPORT Units must incorporate a robust governance structure accompanied by an implementation plan that will have the structure in place within three months of the funding decision.

  • Representation must include the following stakeholder groups, while ensuring a diversity of experiences and perspectives:
    • Researchers;
    • Trainees;
    • Health care professionals;
    • Patients/family representatives/informal care providers;
    • Health system administrators;
    • Health professional organizations;
    • SPOR-funded entities and grant recipients; and
    • First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and organizations.
  • The governance structure must include a committee responsible for the consideration of opportunities to ensure sustainability and legacy of the SUPPORT Unit core functions.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Addressing equity, diversity and inclusion strengthens the scientific community and the quality, social relevance and impact of the research, and the appropriateness of researchers working in Indigenous health. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) principles (see the Additional Information section for references), the importance of respecting the cultures and traditions of Indigenous Peoples, and ensuring a meaningful and culturally safe environment must be considered in building the applicant team and developing the application. Stakeholder groups and/or community members, such as patients/family/informal care providers, knowledge holders, Elders, health care professionals and health professional associations are important to the success of this initiative and therefore are expected to be meaningfully engaged in the development and implementation of the SUPPORT Unit. Applicants should consider approaches to promote an inclusive research and work environment, such as efforts to increase participation from underrepresented groups, consideration of meaningful and culturally safe practices and any considerations of equity, diversity and inclusion in the recruitment practices and training/mentorship activities. Applicants are encouraged to complete the CIHR Unconscious Bias Learning Module.


To benefit all Canadians, applicants must consider how the team will account for sex (as a biological variable) and gender (as a socio-cultural factor), as well as any other socio-cultural factors in the research design, methods, analysis, interpretation, and/or dissemination of findings. All applicants are encouraged to complete one of the sex- and gender-based analysis training modules available online through the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health. For more information and resources, please see How to integrate sex and gender into research.

Official Languages and Minority Communities

CIHR complies with the requirements in the Official Languages Act, and encourages applicants to consider an approach to their Unit’s health research activities that fosters the appropriate inclusion of English and French speaking Canadians, and those living within the official language minority communities (OLMCs). Organizations working with or within OLMCs in Canada are encouraged to participate.

For more information, please refer to CIHR’s Policy Statement on Official Languages.

Funds Available

CIHR and partner(s) financial contributions for this initiative are subject to availability of funds. Should CIHR or partner(s) funding levels not be available or are decreased due to unforeseen circumstances, CIHR and partner(s) reserve the right to reduce, defer or suspend financial contributions to grants received as a result of this funding opportunity.

  • The total amount available from CIHR for this funding opportunity is $115,400,412.
  • Recognizing the importance of flexibility in budget planning, applicants can request a maximum of 25% and a minimum of 15% of the overall jurisdictional allocation in a year across the five-year grant term.
  • Of this $115,400,412, funding available per jurisdiction is outlined below:
    • Alberta: $12,944,984 over five years.
    • British Columbia: $16,192,748 over five years.
    • Manitoba: $6,620,630 over five years.
    • Maritimes: $7,327,627 over five years.
    • Newfoundland and Labrador: $4,884,436 over five years.
    • Northwest Territories: $6,909,993 over five years.
    • Ontario: $34,199,145 over five years.
    • Quebec: $13,748,750 over five years.
    • Saskatchewan: $12,572,099 over five years.
  • Phase II funding for the Yukon and Nunavut SUPPORT Units will be made available in a future funding opportunity.
  • Use of CIHR funds is restricted to delivering on the above-mentioned core component areas and related requirements.

Partnership Requirements for Matching Funds

Funding allocated through this opportunity will adhere to the principles that underlie all SPOR programs, including a requirement for 1:1 matching of CIHR funds year over year from sources other than the federal government*. Applicants are therefore expected to work with their nominating institutions, provinces/territories, industry, charities and foundations, and other partners to secure matching contributions.

Partner funds can be used to enhance above-mentioned component areas and/or to sustain component areas initiated under the first phase of SUPPORT Unit funding.

To ensure an efficient competition process, CIHR requests that partner contributions are secured, i.e., without conditions through letters of support that are submitted at the time of application. However, if this is not feasible, applications will be accepted with letters that describe conditional partner contributions. Successful applicants with such letters will be provided with two weeks after the notice of decision date to resubmit updated partner letters that confirm matching contributions. If a partner is not able to confirm their contribution after two weeks, the requested CIHR funding will be reduced accordingly. Should letters of support indicate that partner contributions are subject to a legislated appropriation during the period of commitment, CIHR will consider these contributions secure.

Partner contributions cannot be funds that have previously been leveraged for SPOR or other CIHR initiatives.

Matching partner contributions can include up to 100% in-kind contributions.

*Note: Matching contributions from federal government sources will be accepted within the context of research in collaboration with Indigenous communities. The level of contribution from the federal source must be directed towards and commensurate with the proportion of Indigenous-focused research (for example, if 50% of the research is being conducted with Indigenous communities, then 50% of the matching contribution can be from a federal source).

Additional information can be found at Research Net

Funding Sources

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

This opportunity was posted by: RGCS

Last modified: October 31, 2019