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Foundation unveils bold new approach to funding research

June 25, 2013

$300-million, multi-year commitment to leading institutions aimed at saving more lives, faster

TORONTO – The Heart and Stroke Foundation is making an unprecedented $300 million, multi-year commitment to its newly formed Heart and Stroke Foundation Research Leadership Circle, including 19 of Canada’s leading research institutions.

This is the largest commitment to research in the Foundation’s 60-year history. Over the next 10 years, this initiative will direct the majority of Foundation research dollars toward partner institutions. This will accelerate the progress of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s goal to reduce Canadians’ rate of death from heart disease and stroke by 25 per cent by 2020.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Research Leadership Circle includes the following institutions:

  • Dalhousie University (Halifax)
  • McGill University (Montreal)
  • McMaster University (Hamilton)
  • Montreal Heart Institute
  • Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto)
  • Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Queen’s University (Kingston)
  • St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto)
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Toronto)
  • The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto)
  • University Health Network (Toronto)
  • University of Alberta (Edmonton)
  • University of British Columbia (Vancouver)
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Manitoba (Winnipeg)
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Ottawa Heart Institute
  • University of Toronto
  • Western University (London)

“Simply put, there’s an urgent need to save more lives faster and that’s why the Foundation has brought together the Research Leadership Circle,” said David Sculthorpe, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. “This $300-million commitment will allow our partners an unprecedented ability to plan major research projects, foster greater collaboration and attract even more of the world’s best researchers within and outside of Canada to fight these insidious diseases.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation has never committed funding at this extraordinary level for this length of time. Since 1952, the Foundation has provided more than $1.35 billion to heart and stroke research – second only to the federal government. But, it has never been an up-front commitment that can support long-term research planning.

“The time has come to establish a new, more aggressive and coordinated approach to ending heart disease and stroke, so we’ve partnered with some of the highest performing researchers in Canada to get the job done,” said Irfhan Rawji, past Chair of the Foundation and one of the architects of the Research Leadership Circle. “We’re now counting on the generosity of Canadian philanthropists, our millions of longstanding donors as well as new supporters, to join with us to make this bold commitment succeed. We need our supporters to embrace the challenge with the same vigour that our research partners are applying to the cause.”

Over the past 60 years, research has helped reduce Canadians’ rate of death from heart disease and stroke by approximately 75 per cent. However despite these impressive gains, heart disease and stroke still account for almost 30 per cent of all deaths every year in Canada. Every seven minutes someone dies from heart disease and stroke; that’s nearly 69,000 people annually. These diseases are also a major drain on the Canadian economy, resulting in spending of more than $20.9 billion annually in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages, and decreased productivity.

Each year, the Foundation funds almost 1,500 researchers in medical institutes, universities, hospitals, and communities across the country. This new approach commits longer term funding to partner research institutions whose research programs are most likely to advance Foundation goals.

Notwithstanding the advance commitments to the 18 Research Leadership Circle partners, the Foundation’s merit-based, peer review process will continue to govern all funding.

“As a researcher who has received funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, I commend them for taking this innovative approach,” said Dr. Andrew Pipe, Chief of the Division of Prevention and Rehabilitation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. “It is great to see the Foundation maintain the integrity of the peer review process and also provide long-term research planning stability to these partner institutions which has never been available in the past.”

To learn more about the Research Leadership Circle, or to donate, visitheartandstroke.ca/researchcircle.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke, reducing their impact through preventing disease, saving lives and promoting recovery.

Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.

NT3