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Science and Research

ARCHIVED - Partnerships

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Key Initiatives and Activities


The Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study

The MIREC Study was developed through a partnership among Health Canada, university and clinical scientists from across Canada who are responsible for all stages of the study, including design, recruitment of participants, collection of biospecimens and data from questionnaires and medical charts, laboratory analysis, data analysis and interpretation of results, and writing of scientific publications.

The main objectives of this research are to:

  • obtain national-level data on exposure to priority environmental contaminants during pregnancy; and
  • to assess the health risks, if any, associated with low-level exposure to heavy metals such as lead and mercury during pregnancy.

Within Health Canada, the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate, Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, and the Safe Environments Directorate) and the Health Products and Food Branch (Food Directorate) are partnered to support the study. MIREC is funded by Health Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

The success of MIREC depends on the willingness of Canadians to participate in the study, the health professionals and their hospitals who carry out the recruitment and data/biospecimen collection, the government laboratories analysing the biospecimens, and the many support personnel who keep the study running smoothly.

Occupational Health & Safety

Through the National Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Office (NOW), Health Canada is partnering with the Next link will take you to another Web site Institut de recherche Robert-SauvÚ en santÚ et en sÚcuritÚ du travail (IRSST) on the development of a Sampling and Testing Program for monitoring compliance with and enforcing WHMIS requirements under the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and the Controlled Products Regulations (CPR).

WHMIS, itself a partnership implemented through a federal/provincial/territorial regulatory matrix, is Canada's national chemical classification and hazard communication standard for products produced and intended for use in the workplace.

The Institut de recherche Robert-SauvÚ en santÚ et en sÚcuritÚ du travail (IRSST) was established in QuÚbec in 1980 to: contribute, through research, to the prevention of industrial accidents and occupational diseases as well as to the rehabilitation of affected workers; offer the laboratory services and expertise necessary for the activities of the public occupational health and safety prevention network; disseminate knowledge; and to act as scientific benchmark and expert.

The NOW's partnership with the IRSST entails:

  • The development and the field testing of a legally defensible standard operating procedure for the sampling and testing of WHMIS controlled products
  • The development of laboratory qualification prorgram in the context of auditing WHMIS MSDS with the view to enforcing the HPA/CPR
  • The development of methods for silica analysis in bulk samples using Rietvel XRD method
  • The development of analytical methods for organic solvents in paint lacquer and thinners using GC-MS
  • The development of analytical methods for isocyanates using GC-MS

Health Canada's Pharmaceutical Laboratories and the United States Pharmacopeial Collaborative Research Agreement

The administration of the Next link will take you to another Web site United States Pharmacopeial (USP) Reference Standards Program is a joint effort between the USP, government agencies, the pharmaceutical industry and academia laboratories.

This Collaborative Research Agreement was established in 2004 with the purpose of maintaining and strengthening the previously established framework for cooperation between Health Canada and USP in the USP Reference Standards Program.

As a reference standard is needed by the various laboratories to perform analyses, standards are evaluated through a formal collaborative study to ensure the material satisfies all criteria to serve as a reference standard in laboratories world wide. Health Canada's pharmaceutical laboratories are taking part in this evaluation as a collaborator by performing tests on the samples obtained from the USP. Health Canada then issues a report at the completion of the collaborative study for approval by the USP Reference Standards Committee. Health Canada is proud to take part to this collaborative research agreement as the laboratory testing of reference standards by government agencies is an important component of our mission to help ensure the safety of marketed drug products in Canada. This represents a significant effort for both parties since the USP Reference Standards are the premier standards used in the development and testing of high-quality pharmaceuticals around the world.

Research Project on Toxicokinetic Modelling of Pyrethroids for Dose Reconstruction in the Canadian Population

This project was developed jointly by the team at Health Canada, Quebec Region, and the research team at the UniversitÚ de MontrÚal following a call for proposals issued in 2008 as part of the biomonitoring funding awarded by the Chemicals Management Plan, an initiative that is co-managed by Health Canada and Environment Canada. The collaborative work carried out by these two teams has resulted in a research project that meets the chemical-monitoring priorities and objectives defined by Health Canada.

Pyrethroids are insecticides that are used increasingly in Canada and that tend to replace organophosphorous insecticides and carbamates. However, they are known to be neurotoxic to humans. In the past, studies have dealt with the concentrations of pyrethroids in urinary metabolites; however, the interpretation of this exposure data is unfortunately limited by the undefined relationship between the dose, or the concentrations in the environment, and the levels in biological tissues.

Funding for this research project will allow Health Canada to obtain models to estimate the absorbed doses of pyrethroids. Using these models, risk management measures can be developed to limit the exposure levels of the Canadian population to these insecticides.

Pesticide Research and Monitoring Partnerships

Health Canada works in partnership with other federal natural resource departments to facilitate the prioritization of research and the exchange of science based information pertaining to pesticide research and monitoring, and to promote strong working relationships. The six federal partners are:

  • Health Canada,
  • the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,
  • Environment Canada,
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and
  • Natural Resources Canada.

A DG Committee, chaired by the Environmental Assessment Directorate of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, meets regularly to discuss and update an integrated workplan. The partnership promotes and fosters cooperation between the federal research and regulatory communities working on pest control products and pest management issues and contributes to strengthening science-based decision making in the regulation of pesticides.

PulseNet Canada

Developed in 2000, Next link will take you to another Web site PulseNet Canada is a virtual electronic network which ties the public health laboratories of all provinces (plus some federal laboratories) together by linking their computers and databases. This national network is dedicated to tracking the DNA fingerprints of all cases of E. coli and most cases of salmonella.

Currently, the Canadian network includes the public health laboratories of all ten provinces plus two federal laboratories (the Public Health Agency of Canada's Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses and Health Canada's Bureau of Microbial Hazards).

PulseNet plays a vital role in the surveillance and investigation of foodborne illness outbreaks that were previously difficult to detect. Finding similar patterns through PulseNet, scientists can determine whether an outbreak is occurring, even if the affected persons are geographically far apart. Through PulseNet, outbreaks and their causes can be identified in a matter of hours rather than days.

Food and Environmental Parasitology Network (Canada)

The Food and Environmental Parasitology Network (FEPN) is chaired by Health Canada and McGill University. The Network currently has over 50 members from across Canada representing federal and provincial government, academia, and industry with an active involvement in issues related to food and environmental parasitology.

The Network covers both protozoan and helminth parasites of public health concern in Canada, and looks at the following issues: contaminated foods and infected food animals (e.g., imported produce, raw meats, fish and shellfish, country foods), potable and non-potable water, Northern and Aboriginal issues, zoonotic transmission (e.g., livestock, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture, companion animals), and epidemiology.

The major objectives of the Network are to:

  • identify and communicate risks and research/surveillance gaps relevant to the fields;
  • facilitate discussion, grant applications, and collaborative research amongst members and external researchers;
  • develop and validate standardized methods for the isolation, detection, characterization, surveillance, and control of foodborne and environmental parasites;
  • generate data for risk assessments and policy development; and
  • provide expert advice and testing in support of outbreak investigations and surveillance studies.

Further information is available at: Next link will take you to another Web site Food and Environmental Parasitology Network (FEPN) of Ottawa University.

Patient Wait Times Guarantee for Federally Funded Prenatal Care and Diabetes Services Delivered in First Nations Communities

Health Canada, in partnership with the Next link will take you to another Web site Assembly of First Nations (AFN), supported pilot projects to test patient wait time guarantees for federally funded prenatal and diabetes care delivered in First Nations communities.

Working in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) identified 19 First Nations communities, representing a mix of urban, rural and remote geography with health services delivered through nursing stations and health centres, to host two-year pilot projects.

The information collected through the pilot projects is being assessed and will help identify practices that can be adopted in other First Nations communities across Canada to effectively manage wait times related to the provision of prenatal and diabetes care.

The Patient Wait Times Initiative provides models to guide evidence-informed health service delivery policies, processes and program activities. This model combined Ministerial direction, professional clinical guidelines, field experience, community-directed data and information gathering, and empirical validation to review policies and processes and improve program delivery.

Joint Summer Institute on Indigenous Health Research

In May 2007, Health Canada and the United States' Department of Health and Human Services signed a five year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on indigenous health issues. The MOU aims to improve the health status and well-being of Indigenous people in Canada and the United States, and improve approaches to Indigenous health issues by identifying and reinforcing best practices.

The partnership has led to an innovative international public health research training program that aims to increase the number of Indigenous researchers. The annual Indigenous Health Research Institute strengthens the capacity of Indigenous health professionals from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Summer Institute is also helping to:

  • build networks and capacity between researchers and community health leads;
  • create a standard of ethics that bridges community and researchers' needs;
  • develop a new culture around broader perspectives of health;
  • foster collaboration;
  • create opportunities for new and emerging Indigenous health researchers; and
  • empower communities to engage in research by using existing resources, processes and expertise.

Three summer institutes were held from 2007 to 2009, in the US and Canada, alternatively. They were jointly organised by Next link will take you to another Web site Johns Hopkins University and the Next link will take you to another Web site University of Alberta. Participation included 40 Indigenous researchers and community health leaders representing 23 tribes and Indigenous groups from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Partners included:

  • Indian Health Service (US)
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health
  • National Indian Health Board (US)
  • University of Alberta's School of Public Health
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) National Influenza Research Network to Quickly Evaluate Vaccine for H1N1

In 2009, the Government of Canada announced funding for a national influenza research network focussed on pandemic vaccine evaluation. The network will provide a pan-Canadian coordinating mechanism for conducting applied public health research that will help governments and the public health community prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic. The network will strengthen Canada's capacity to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a pandemic influenza vaccine and vaccination programs.

The network was created through a partnership between the Next link will take you to another Web site Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Next link will take you to another Web site Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Led by Dr. Scott Halperin, Director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax, it links over 80 scientists from 30 research and public health institutions across Canada.

Network scientists will:

  • test methodologies for the performance of rapid clinical trials
  • assess the safety and immunogenicity of a novel pandemic influenza vaccine
  • provide population-based estimates of vaccine safety and effectiveness
  • measure vaccine coverage
  • facilitate the rapid implementation of pandemic influenza vaccine programs

Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network

The Next link will take you to another Web site Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network (DSEN) was established at CIHR as part of the Government of Canada's Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan (FCSAP). CIHR is collaborating with Health Canada in the development of the Network, together with stakeholders from across Canada. The Government of Canada has committed $32 million over five years, and an additional $10 million per year thereafter, to support the Network.

In Canada and worldwide, there are gaps in information on the safety and effectiveness of drugs used in real-world settings. More information is needed on the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals when used by diverse patient populations outside the controlled experimental environment of clinical trials.

The DSEN is composed of 3 key components:

  • Coordinating Centre to facilitate Network operations,
  • Steering Committee that will set priorities and provide strategic directions, and
  • Collaborating Centres (CCs).

DSEN will be announcing the launch of the funding process supporting the establishment of the DSEN CCs. The CCs will be formed of researchers and team members from across jurisdictions, universities and organizations. They will be interprovincial in geographic scope, possess the research capacity to respond in a timely manner to the drug safety and effectiveness questions of decision makers and must demonstrate a commitment to contribute to a greater national coordination of research efforts.

Several CCs will be established in principal thematic areas of research methodologies, each supporting distinctive competencies within the national DSEN initiative. These would include a unique CC for Retrospective Observational Studies along with consideration of CCs for Prospective Surveillance and Pharmacoepidemiologic Studies; and Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)s)/Systematic Reviews/Indirect Comparisons.


As Canada is increasingly affected and challenged by health issues beyond its borders, Health Canada is active internationally to help protect and enhance the health of Canadians. Health Canada's international science and research partnerships play an important role in advancing its mandate and in addressing global health issues.

Health Canada's bilateral agreements also facilitate health science and technology research partnerships. Health Canada currently has Agreements for Scientific and Technical Cooperation in place with China and India, as well as other bilateral Memoranda of Understanding on health sector collaboration with Australia (2007-2011), Brazil (2009-2012) and Mexico (no termination date).

Arctic Council, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), Human Health Assessment Group (HHAG)

Health Canada participates in the Next link will take you to another Web site Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), one of five working groups established under the circumpolar nations Arctic Council. A Human Health Assessment Group (HHAG) was established under AMAP which creates a partnership between leading health researchers and research coordinators from the circumpolar countries (Canada, Denmark/Greenland/Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, United States). One of the principal objectives of the AMAP HHAG is trend monitoring and assessment of implications and impacts of pollutants on the health of Arctic residents.

Within Health Canada, staff from the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch (HECSB) and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) have participated since the early 1990s in the HHAG and currently co-chair the group with Norway. A broad range of groups within Canada participates in Arctic contaminant research and evaluation, many contributing to AMAP through the interdepartmental Canadian Next link will take you to another Web site Northern Contaminants Program (NCP). The work of the HHAG allows the Arctic Council to provide scientific advice to support Arctic governments in their remedial and preventive actions relating to contaminants and human health. The AMAP HHAG has published three Assessment Reports on Human Health in the Arctic, in 1998, 2003 and 2009. The 2009 assessment is available at Next link will take you to another Web site

International Agency for Research on Cancer

Health Canada is the lead government department for relations with the Next link will take you to another Web site International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and also provides funding to the organization (Euro 850,376 in 2010). IARC was established in May, 1965, through a resolution of the 18th World Health Assembly (WHA), as an extension of the World Health Organization (WHO), after a French initiative. A major goal of the IARC is the identification of causes of cancer, so that preventive measures and early detection may be adopted against them. This goal is achieved by monitoring global cancer occurrence, identifying the causes of cancer, elucidating the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and developing scientific strategies for cancer control. IARC's uniqueness resides in its studies on cancer and the relationships of humans and the environment.

The role of IARC among cancer research institutes is characterized by its focus on cancer prevention, its emphasis on studies that combine epidemiological and laboratory approaches, and by the special forum it provides for international collaboration, dissemination of scientific information, and training. The IARC Monograph publications are considered an authoritative review of research results on important substances, products and processes that lead to cancer. Health Canada's role in supporting Canada's partnership with IARC includes coordinating the Canadian delegation to the annual meeting of the Governing Council, as well as involvement in the Governing and Scientific Councils working groups and subcommittees, and collaborating on various IARC research projects.

Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centers

Health Canada fosters health research partnerships through strategic support for Canada's 24 Next link will take you to another Web site PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centres, including two which are housed at Health Canada (*).

Collaborating centres are institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, which are designated to carry out activities in support of the organizations' programmes. Currently, collaborating centres in Canada focus their work in the following areas:

  • Addiction and Mental Health
  • Bioethics
  • Control, Pathogenesis and Epidemiology of Rabies in Carnivores
  • Development of Healthy Cities and Towns
  • Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases Detection, Diagnostics, Reference and Research
  • Environmental and Occupational Health Impact Assessment and Surveillance
  • Food Contamination Monitoring*
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Science Education and Practice
  • Health Workforce Planning and Research
  • Knowledge Translation and Health Technology Assessment in Health EquityMental Health Training and Policy
  • Non-Communicable Disease Policy
  • Nursing and Mental Health
  • Nutrition Changes and Development
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Prevention of Work and Environmental Related Illnesses
  • Primary Care Nursing and Health Human Resources
  • Research and Training in Mental Health
  • Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention
  • Water Quality*
  • Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention

Global Health Research Initiative

The Next link will take you to another Web site Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI) is a research funding partnership of Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the International Development Research Centre, and the Canadian International Development Agency. Launched in 2001, GHRI focuses on action-oriented research relevant to population health, health policy and healthy systems and development effectiveness. GHRI funds international research collaboration linking Canadian and low- to middle-income country researchers and policy makers in original team and network models to advance research toward:

  • cost-effective interventions for high priority global health problems;
  • coordinated efforts to strengthen healthy system;
  • sustainable research capacity that enables local researchers to produce research findings for long term solutions to local problems; and
  • practical, widespread use of health research evidence in health policy and health systems decision-making.

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