Our Story

Since 2001, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research has empowered world-class health innovation with global impact.

Over the past 16 years, we have supported nearly 1,600 individual researchers and 80 research teams. By investing in excellence, we support a vibrant health research community in BC that:

  • Attracts and retains top international experts.
  • Leverages funding to develop innovative ideas into new products, new treatments and new companies.
  • Finds solutions to our most pressing health challenges, including cancer, genomics and HIV/AIDS.

MSFHR is dedicated to the memory of Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Michael Smith, a pre-eminent BC scientist with a long-standing commitment to support researchers throughout their careers.

Last year, we celebrated 15 years of impact on BC's health research community. Here are some highlights:

Decoding breast cancer

Working with colleagues at the BC Cancer Agency, Dr. Sohrab Shah used his background in computer science to identify the genetic composition of the deadliest form of breast cancer, opening the possibility of more effective targeted treatments.

"As I was training, I began to make strong links to the world-leading cancer genomics community in BC and I fostered a lot of key collaborations that continue to underpin my research program. The support of MSFHR enabled me to stay here in BC and continue to strengthen those collaborations."

Changing public policy

HPV infections cause nearly all cases of cervical cancer, the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. A multi-organization research team, co-funded by MSFHR, has proven two doses of the HPV vaccine are as effective as the standard three-dose regimen. This finding has led to policy changes by provincial and national organizations, as well as the World Health Organization that will save costs and reduce barriers to vaccination.


Empowering patients

Dr. Linda Li, a clinician scientist with a background in physiotherapy, wants to help people with arthritis adopt healthy lifestyles and be more physically active. To do this, she is developing patient decision aids and using digital tools to help patients make healthy lifestyle choices.

"My MSFHR award allows me to protect time for research while maintaining my clinical practice. Working with my clinical colleagues allows me to stay grounded and ask better research questions and find better ways to answer them."

Treatment as prevention

The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS has improved outcomes and reduced HIV morbidity and mortality by more than 95% and HIV transmission by more than 65% through the use of HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) and routine testing.

"We are at the forefront of the global effort to confront HIV/AIDS and ready to transfer the success of the 'Treatment as Prevention' strategy to other diseases because of investments made by the BC government and MSFHR."
 Dr. Julio Montaner, Director, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS