Investment in BC SUPPORT Unit will increase patient-oriented research in BC

BC SUPPORT Unit official launch
Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott (centre left), BC SUPPORT Unit Executive Director Minnie Downey (centre) and BC Minister of Health Terry Lake, (centre right) were joined by BC SUPPORT Unit staff at the Unit’s official launch on Nov 9

On November 9, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Canada’s Minister of Health, and Terry Lake, BC’s Minister of Health announced a combined $80 million in funding and in-kind contributions over five years towards the new British Columbia Support Unit for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (BC SUPPORT Unit).

The BC SUPPORT Unit is a multidisciplinary cluster of specialized personnel in the areas of research, policy, and patient care, who will engage patients to identify their needs and set priorities for research. The funding announcement, attended by MSFHR and other BC SUPPORT Unit partners as well as members of BC’s research community, marked the official launch of the organization and its work to increase patient-oriented research throughout the province.

Together with its 18 provincial partners, the BC SUPPORT Unit will provide services for researchers, patients, health-care providers, and health system decision-makers.

The BC SUPPORT Unit’s start-up phase was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by the BC Ministry of Health through MSFHR. In addition to funding support, MSFHR facilitated the development of the Unit’s business plan on behalf of the BC Ministry of Health, participated on the Unit’s interim governing council, and provided support services to enable the Unit’s transition from start-up phase to regular operations.

Bev Holmes, MSFHR’s vice-president, research & impact, served as interim leader since early 2015 and helped guide the Unit’s development and implementation. “It has been both exciting and rewarding for MSFHR to play a role in the start-up phase of the BC SUPPORT Unit and to watch the Unit come to life,” said Holmes. “We look forward to our continued relationship with BC SUPPORT Unit and the growth of patient-oriented research throughout BC.”

The BC Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN) — created to accelerate and integrate the translation of research insights into innovations that address patient needs and health system priorities — provides governance and oversight for the BC SUPPORT Unit.

Read the joint Government of Canada/BC government news release and backgrounder.