The purpose of health research is to generate high quality knowledge that can be used to promote, restore, and maintain our health. The health research enterprise – the sum of efforts to generate and use research knowledge – is made up of many different players, including those who:
- Build capacity for research through funding, training and education, infrastructure and tools
- Conduct research, whether scientists in labs or community-based researchers
- Use health research to inform their decision-making
People involved in this research effort are spread across the province and located in a range of settings – universities; governments; health authorities; private industries; and the community at large. Such diversity makes for a rich – and very complex – research enterprise.
The BC government has invested more than $900 million in health research over the past 12 years. These investments, along with others they have leveraged, have translated into a significant growth in health research in BC, with excellent researchers choosing to make the province their home, and hundreds of jobs for skilled research personnel. BC’s investments in health research have led to improvements in health, life expectancy, and quality of life. They have contributed to more evidence-informed decision-making and helped BC to prepare for the future.
While these are great gains, more could be done to improve the impact of BC’s health research enterprise. In an ideal world, those of us involved in health research – from the funders through the producers to the users – would work together to capitalize on our respective strengths and resources. In reality, there are few opportunities to do this. Players work within their own spheres, often without knowledge of others’ mandates, objectives, and priorities.
A provincial health research strategy, developed and implemented by the community, will help achieve much needed coherence. With this in mind, the BC government asked the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) to facilitate the development of a health research strategy for the province.