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The Black Hole

CIHR Updates: Budget 2012 and Science Policy Fellowships


Today’s post is actually two mini-posts – one on CIHR’s response to Budget 2012 and the other on the announcement of their Science Policy Fellowship program.

Response to Budget 2012
Earlier this month, CIHR President Alain Beaudet released a message concerning the federal budget and its impact on CIHR.  Amongst the standard platitudes, a few interesting statements are made that I’d like to highlight for our readers.  First, it is  great to see support for tackling the mental health crisis in Canada – while the details were scant on exactly how this support would be evidenced, it is absolutely a top priority issue.  Secondly, in the wake of 10% overall cuts to CIHR, Beaudet says “the budget firmly stated that CIHR’s programming in support of basic research, student scholarships and industry-related research initiatives and collaborations has been maintained” – this is good in some respects, but does make me worry about where the 10% cuts are meant to come from.   Finally, he closes with a plea to contribute to something I’ve highlighted on the site before – CIHR’s proposed reforms to its operating grants and peer review.  Now is the time to have your say on CIHR programs with the April 30th deadline for accepting input.  My next post will take a more in-depth look at the proposals and their potential impacts on health research in Canada and I hope that any health researchers reading this will consider voicing their opinion too.

(If you are interested in much less rosy pictures of the budget, do read Professor Ghoussoub’s article last month on the budget and its implications for universities and Hannah Hoag’s article in Nature slamming the federal budget for its negative impact on basic research.)

Science Policy Fellowship Program
An exciting development following on last year’s opportunities for those considering a career in science policy or even for those simply curious about how it all works inside government when it comes to making policy based on evidence.  We’ve written before about careers in the public service and the importance of understanding how policy making works.  These fellowships have the goal of “nurturing critical links between policy makers and external researchers in support of evidence based public policy” and are designed to allow successful applicants the opportunity to become policy fellows for a short time.  This gives the fellows the chance to see how policy making works and gives policy makers access to experts with highly specialised knowledge in particular fields.  Currently, the vast majority (if not all) of these fellowships are in health policy and at Health Canada.

It would be great to hear from those who may have had one of these fellowships to give our readers a sense of what they’d be getting into by undertaking one – if you know someone who has/had one, please do not hesitate to put them in touch with us.

David Kent
Dr. David Kent is a principal investigator at the York Biomedical Research Institute at the University of York, York, UK. He trained at Western University and the University of British Columbia before spending 10 years at the University of Cambridge, UK where he ran his research group until 2019. His laboratory's research focuses on the fundamental biology of blood stem cells and how changes in their regulation lead to cancers. David has a long history of public engagement and outreach including the creation of The Black Hole in 2009.
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