Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announces a $5.8 Million investment in programs to give health research trainees hands-on work experience

The investment will provide mentoring and on-the-job training for PhD graduates across the country.

October 2, 2017 – Toronto, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Traditionally, PhD students receive extensive methodological training and complete a substantive multi-year thesis while working with a supervisor in what is regarded as an apprenticeship-type model. This training is designed to prepare students for academic careers.

The reality is that most PhD graduates these days work outside traditional academic settings in public, private, and not-for-profit organizations. The training they receive does not always prepare them to work and make an impact in these sectors.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, today announced a $5.8 million investment that will support a new model of training for health services researchers. The funding will support 46 PhD graduates who will receive the first awards funded through a new program developed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute for Health Services and Policy Research and the Canadian Health Services and Policy Research Alliance.

The Health System Impact Fellowship (HSIF) and Training Modernization Start-Up Grant programs give trainees experiential learning opportunities in health care organizations where they will bring new ideas and innovative approaches to tackle the complex challenges these organizations are facing.

The program is a collaboration between CIHR, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, Mitacs, and 36 health system partners and 17 universities across Canada.

Dr. Frances Morton-Chang is one of the fellowship recipients. Dr. Morton-Chang recently completed her PhD in health services research with a combined focus on health policy and aging at the University of Toronto. As a Health System Impact Fellow, Dr. Morton-Chang will work with AdvantAge Ontario, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting high-quality seniors care. She will study the effect of a campus, or village, model for integrating and delivering services to seniors. In addition to the applied experience and mentorship that she will receive from AdvanTage Ontario, Dr. Morton-Chang will also receive academic supervision and mentorship from professors at the University of Toronto.


“Our investment in the program represents one of our Government’s efforts to both train and keep our best and brightest researchers right here at home. It will help rethink the traditional model of workplace integration for PhD students across the country. It will no doubt have an effect on improving health services for Canadians in the future.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“The Health System Impact Fellowship program will accelerate fellows’ career preparedness and their ability to create positive change for our health system and the health of Canadians. The program also provides health care organizations with direct access to a cohort of the country’s rising stars in health services research. CIHR thanks its partners for supporting the Health System Impact Fellowship program and offers its congratulations to the fellows and their health system and academic supervisors”.

Dr. Robyn Tamblyn
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research

“It’s time to rethink the way we train our PhDs. The complexity and magnitude of challenges facing our health care system require sophisticated analytic expertise on the ground, embedded directly within health policy and delivery organizations. The Health System Impact Fellowship and Start-Up Grant programs will place fellows at the coalface and ensure that Canada’s health services PhD graduates are equipped with the rigorous training and the practical experience required to bring profound change to our health system. The University of Toronto and its Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation is proud to be a part of this innovative and critically important initiative.”

Dr. Steini Brown
Dean (Interim), Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

“We are very pleased to have the CIHR Health System Impact Fellow joining us at AdvantAge Ontario. It’s a great, mutually beneficial, opportunity. Our fellow will gain experience in our applied health sector association setting and we will benefit from her contribution to our evidence-informed research into non-profit seniors’ campuses – the way forward in seniors care.”

Dan Buchanan
Director of Financial Policy, AdvantAge Ontario

Quick Facts

  • CIHR and the Canadian Health Services and Policy Research Alliance developed a new program to give health services research trainees the opportunity to apply their training and gain work experience in health care organizations, and to provide health care organizations the opportunity to harness the talents of PhD-trained individuals.
  • The Health System Impact Fellowship program is made up of Training Modernization Start-Up Grants and Health System Impact Fellowship Awards. The awards are available to postdoctoral fellows and will also be available to PhD students later this fall.
  • CIHR and its partners have funded the first 46 awards under the program for a total investment of $5.8 million.

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Yves-Alexandre Comeau
Office of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
[email protected]


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