New joint report on pan-Canadian population cohorts charts course for improved health outcomes

Press Release

September 27, 2022

A national approach to large-scale inclusive datasets can enable precision health to improve health outcomes and health systems to drive life sciences innovation in Canada.

Today, Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) released a joint report, Enhancing Canada’s Population Cohort Environment, with 11 recommendations to strengthen Canada’s health data and research outcomes and drive greater benefits for those who live in Canada.

Genome Canada and CIHR led a dialogue on the status of population cohorts across the country resulting in this new report. Population cohorts are defined population groups selected for longitudinal assessment to gain insight into factors that influence health and are a critical component of learning health systems.

Canada currently funds several large population cohort studies, but they are siloed and unconnected, with key gaps. The dialogue, which engaged Canadian and international leaders in data and cohort management as well as citizens and data organizations, examined these system-level gaps that are hindering full value realization from these investments. These include barriers to administrative data access; lack of representation of Canada’s diverse population; a deficit of Indigenous-led cohorts; challenges with data sharing and harmonization; lack of sustainable funding; and low public awareness.  The new report outlines 11 recommendations to improve and optimize population cohorts so they can become even greater resources for actionable insights and improved health outcomes for all who live in Canada.  As one next step, Genome Canada is now mapping a comprehensive catalogue of Canadian genomics cohorts and biobanks.

Many countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, are making major investments in national health databanks and large-scale cohorts to drive precision health care and innovation.  Generating and coordinating large-scale, diverse health and genomics data initiatives can accelerate precision healthcare in Canada and drive significant innovation in the sector.

Putting the report’s recommendations into action will take coordinated pan-Canadian effort and an ecosystem approach from Canada’s genomics and health research funders and many other partners.   Building on this report, and models and lessons learned from our COVID-19 response, Canada now has an opportunity to build and invest in a bold vision for developing and coordinating large-scale inclusive Canadian datasets to drive the future of health and life sciences innovation in this country.

Media contact

Nicola Katz, Director,
Communications Genome
Canada Cell: 613-297-0267


NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More