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New institute means more cash
By Stephanie Cesca
The definition of health expanded this weekend after Health Minister Allan Rock revealed the details of $65 million destined for the new Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which should be ready by April 1, 2000.
Jack Bend, associate dean of research in the faculty of medicine and dentistry at Western, explained the money is being given to the CIHR, set to replace the Medical Research Council and allot research grants to health research institutions throughout Canada.
Faye Kert, deputy director of communications at the MRC said one of the benefits of the new institute is the expansion of health research. There will be more funding in other research fields, such as the social sciences which relate to health.
Another difference is the government will be able to direct research towards areas which may be lacking, she added.
Kert said the 16 medical schools in the country will definitely reap the benefits of the new CIHR. "Over the next few years, all of our traditional university clients can expect more money. Western's one of our best customers," she said, adding the university has received approximately $217 million from the MRC over the past 40 years.
"And that $65 million is just the first chunk of money for the CIHR, but the next year there will be more and even the next year after that."
Bend said the CIHR has two new programs which have been set up for institutions to apply to for grants. He explained the first, the Interdisciplinary Health Research Team, is made up for researchers who will tackle health problems.
The second will be the Community Alliance in Health Research, for projects between community health-related organizations and university-based research teams.
"In each of these cases I think Western can be very competitive," he said, referring to Western's chances of receiving funds for future research endeavours. He added Western is co-operative with community health-related institutes, which puts the university in a good position to receive all of the money which is applied for.
Kert said although the transformation from the MRC to the CIHR is generating a lot of mixed feelings within the council, the change is for the best.
"Theoretically, it's going to be fabulous." She added the size of the institute and funding it receives will double. "But because it has never happened before there's going to be wrinkles needed to be ironed out."
Derek Kent, spokesperson for the federal Ministry of Health, said Rock is receiving a very positive reaction to his announcement. "The response has been outstanding."
Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic, said the university has a very close-knit relationship with all the research institutes in the community.