New studies to benefit BC’s life sciences sector and health research system

17 July 2023

Michael Smith Health Research BC is initiating three studies this summer that will benefit BC’s life sciences sector and its health research system.

The first is a rapid assessment of the provincial health research system. The BC Ministry of Health asked Health Research BC to coordinate this initiative. A working group from the Health Research Council of BC will be playing an important role in providing input. We became secretariat for the council last year and it is advancing as a collaborative forum focusing on strengthening and optimizing BC’s health research system.

This initiative is a first step in assessing the current state of BC’s health research system. As a high-level study, it will gather perspectives from several leaders and practitioners and will focus on what’s changed since the province’s 2014 Health Research Strategy was released. We recognize the complexity in research systems. As a first step, a key outcome will be determining what areas need additional analysis in the future. Findings will be presented to the Ministry of Health in late September providing timely and critical insights for our provincial health research ecosystem and broader life sciences sector.

Update: This assessment is complete and can be viewed here.

At the same time, we’re undertaking a review of our talent support programs. Health Research BC has been building talent for over 20 years. Literally thousands of research careers have been supported through our funding programs. It’s the perfect opportunity to review the impact of this funding history especially in the context of the current provincial research talent landscape. Understanding what success factors, strengths, gaps and needs exist in our life sciences sector is critical. We need this information to support our ability to attract, develop, and retain research talent, support job creation, and improve access to talent in BC. This is an exciting initiative as we feel it will provide important inputs into our work, but also into the work of everyone involved in building strong health research talent in BC.

And last, but not least, we have contracted an economic analysis of clinical trials in BC. In 2013 a review of clinical research was completed but a lot has transpired since then. The Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing strategy released by the Government of BC earlier this spring places the role of clinical trials front and centre. We aim to help inform next steps for expanding clinical trials capacity by capturing the direct impact of clinical research activities, the broader impact on BC’s economy, and compare the analysis to the findings from 10 years ago.

These studies will include substantial system input with interviews, questionnaires, and data contributions being collected throughout the summer and into early fall. As the resulting reports are released, Health Research BC will be sharing insights through our website and other communication.

Good things come in threes! At Health Research BC, it’s shaping up to be a summer of opportunity, gathering evidence, assessing important questions, and providing insights aimed at strengthening our collective interest in a strong health research ecosystem.