Charting the Course: Priority-based funding to address pressing health challenges

16 February 2024

Was the COVID pandemic a wake-up call? It was in many ways, including the varied challenges impacting our health, the provincial health and health research systems. At times it can seem these challenges are unrelenting and multiplying.  

In an environment buffeted by major challenges, Health Research BC has undertaken a priority-setting process to determine where our funding and support can provide increased research attention and impact. This approach aligns with provincial priorities and is empowered by our strategy to build talent, catalyze change for a stronger health research system, and mobilize communities for research impact. 

Led by our chief scientific officer, Dr. Stirling Bryan, and assistant vice president of research programs, Dr. Ellie Griffith, an assessment concluded that, in addition to our existing priority of co-creating and funding an Indigenous-led health research program, four broad themes will be the focus for priority-based funding: 

  • population aging; 
  • climate change and health; 
  • the health human resources crisis; and 
  • public health emergencies.

We recognize that we already support researchers conducting research aligned with these themes through our current funding programs. Moving towards priority-based funding, we will increase focus on research opportunities aimed at advancing research production and use in these key areas. 

At Health Research BC, we’re taking four steps to advance these priorities:

  • First, our strategy is enabled by an internal science initiative focused on bringing evidence to inform our work as the province’s health research agency. We are engaging with BC’s research and health sector communities to understand current work across these priority areas, to help us to further define them, and to advance our program planning.  
  • Second, a new opportunity will launch later in 2024 focused on population aging. This is currently in the design phase and builds from foundational work to understand BC’s research agenda in this space. The opportunity will be focused on uptake and implementation of research evidence to improve seniors’ care. 
  • Third, a renewed partnership plan will seek opportunities through dedicated funding for partnered activities and research collaborations that advance these priorities. 
  • And finally, our Convening and Collaborating (C2) and Reach knowledge translation competitions this year have been expanded. To be announced in March of 2024, additional funding is being made available to support proposals focused in these four priority areas. 

For Health Research BC, priority-based funding will help us strengthen our collaborations across the health and health research systems. These new steps will see BC’s health researchers deliver solutions to some of our province’s foremost challenges.