The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) and the British Columbia Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN) have joined forces to create a dynamic and integrated health research organization, Michael Smith Health Research BC, to support the growth and evolution of BC’s vibrant health research system and life sciences sector.
As one organization — and embracing a dual role of “doing” and “influencing” — Michael Smith Health Research BC is in a much stronger position to work with partners and stakeholders to strengthen research capacity across the province, support evidence-informed decision making in health care, increase the competitiveness of our life sciences sector, and maximize the social and economic benefits of health research in BC.
This blog series written by MSFHR staff, examines what it takes to be a responsive and responsible research funder, and explores the world in which research funders operate today.
Dr. Michael Smith
MSFHR was created in 2001 in honour of BC’s first Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Smith. A pre-eminent chemist and molecular biologist, Smith was dedicated to building BC’s health research capacity and nurturing the next generation of research innovators. His distinguished career and longstanding commitment to supporting emerging scientific talent helped establish BC as a hub of world-class health research. The Foundation continues this important work in BC and beyond as a member of NAPHRO, the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations.
We develop BC health research talent
Our core mandate is talent development: we help develop, retain and attract the people whose research improves the health of British Columbians, addresses health system priorities, creates jobs and adds to the knowledge economy.
We also engage in activities to strengthen BC’s health research system. We support the development and use of research evidence in policy and practice (known as knowledge translation, or KT, and the creation of evidence to respond to provincial health challenges. We convene critical conversations that shape BC’s health research system and ultimately increase the impact of research.
As an expert funder, we use our knowledge about BC’s health system, the changing landscape and emerging needs to fund researchers to provide evidence that keeps British Columbians and their communities healthy.
We partner to increase funding available to BC health researchers
Strong partnerships are integral to fostering world-class health research in BC. We partner with public and private sector organizations to co-fund researchers, build health research capacity, fill strategic gaps, and optimize our collective investments in health research.
Our partnerships also increase BC researchers’ ability to compete nationally and internationally, attracting research dollars from outside the province.
We support knowledge translation (KT) in BC
Our team of KT specialists work to advance the science and practice of knowledge translation and give BC health researchers, health-care providers, policy-makers and other research users the tools they need to increase the use of research evidence in practice, policy and further research.
We respond to BC health system priorities
We are a trusted partner to government and the health research community, supporting partners to use research to inform and respond to emerging population health and health system issues. We also facilitate introductions, dialogue and meaningful collaborations between researchers, health system stakeholders, caregivers, patients and private companies.
Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
MSFHR has a strategic commitment to fostering a more equitable, diverse and inclusive health research system.
Diversity in research is important to cultivating talent and promoting inclusive excellence, which in turn drives discovery and helps build a more innovative and impactful health research system.
To help deliver on our strategic commitment to EDI, we’ve made it a priority to improve our data collection on who is applying to our funding programs, reviewing applications for us and receiving MSFHR funding.
MSFHR programs have played an important role in BC’s health research system. But the context in which we work is changing rapidly. Academic career trajectories are evolving — especially as researchers embrace the need to work more closely with the people, communities and systems they serve. There is a growing imperative for a more equitable, diverse and inclusive health research system.
MSFHR’s 2020-2025 strategic plan, informed by broad consultation, an environmental scan and a review of literature, reflects this changing context. We are committed to strategic investments that enable world-class discovery and translation, inspire and support talented people, and help build the research capacity BC needs to generate and use research for better health and health care.
MSFHR's audited annual financial statements are available for download.