In December 2015, CIHR approved the BC SUPPORT Unit business plan. A summary of the plan is also available. Please note: Some changes in our planning have occurred, e.g., changes regarding governance, etc. For background on the development of the business plan, see Who Was Involved, Consultation, and Expressions of Interest.
The Unit’s&business plan outlines a model for operations that includes governance, provincial office/hub, regional centres and methods clusters (methodological communities of practice). The model also includes a link to the developing provincial data platform that is separate but integral to the Unit.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is one of the Unit’s key funders. As part of our relationship with CIHR, we were& required to reach a number of milestones in advance of regular operations:
|Business plan approval||December 2015|
|Signing of grant agreement||March 2016|
|Submission of information about implementation and operations plan||September 2016|
With the final milestone behind us, we offer services through the Provincial Hub. Regional centres will begin to offer initial services soon. To start, focused on serving members of research teams who are applying for SPOR funding competitions. Since 2017, we've expanded our focus to serve a broader group.
Unit services now span patient engagement, research navigation, data access and use, knowledge translation, and training and capacity development.
Who Was Involved
The BC SUPPORT Unit's business plan development was overseen by the Interim Governing Council (IGC) that provided direction towards the Unit's design and establishment.
Representation on the IGC was drawn from:
- BC’s four research-intensive universities (University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, University of Northern British Columbia)
- BC’s five regional health authorities (Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Interior Health, Northern Health, Island Health)
- Provincial Health Services Authority
- Providence Health Care
- First Nations Health Authority
- BC Government
- Public and patient representatives
- Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Member Title / Organization Fraser Bell Vice-President, Planning, Quality and Information Management
Kevin Butterworth Executive Director, Technology and Innovation - BC Ministry of Health Ellen Chesney Chief Administrative Officer, Research
Provincial Health Services Authority
Susan Chunick Director, Department of Evaluation & Research Services
Heather Davidson Assistant Deputy Minister, Planning and Innovation
BC Ministry of Health
Norbert Haunerland Associate Vice-President, Research
Simon Fraser University
Michael Hayes Director Health Education and Research
University of Victoria
Bev Holmes President and CEO,
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Richard Jock Vice-President, Policy, Planning & Strategic Services
First Nations Health Authority
Yvonne Lefebvre Scientific Research Director
Tony Loughran Assistant Deputy Minister, Governance, Quality Assurance and Strategic Policy - BC Ministry of Health Paul Man Vice-President, Research & Academic Affairs, Providence Health Care Rob McMaster Vice-President, Research
Vancouver Coastal Health
Malcolm Ogborn Executive Medical Director, Medical & Academic Affairs - Vancouver Island Health Authority Geoff Payne Interim Vice President Research and Graduate Programs - University of Northern British Columbia Laurel Radley Representative for Patients as Partners | Patient Voices Network Rachael Scarth Associate Vice-President, Research Operations, University of Victoria Martin Wale Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Executive Medical Director
Vancouver Island Health Authority
Expressions of interest in leading the development of the initial BC SUPPORT Unit business plan were reviewed by MSFHR and BC Ministry of Health representatives, as well as members of an external expert group.
The external expert group, consisting of recognized national and international leaders in knowledge translation, real-world clinical trials, and data platforms, provided a review mechanism independent of the BC health research community during the selection of a business plan writing team.
Core function area: data platforms and services
Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown is the Director of the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and is also the Dalla Lana Chair in Public Health Policy and the Head of the Division of Public Health Policy at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. He is a Scientist at the Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital. Past roles include the Assistant Deputy Minister for Strategy and Policy at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and for Science and Research at the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.
He received his undergraduate degree in government from Harvard University and his doctorate from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has received several leadership awards including being named one of Canada's "Top 40 Under 40" in recognition for his work on performance measurement in health care. He has held founding roles in consulting, software, and Internet companies and has advised the World Health Organization, banks, software and insurance companies, and health care providers in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Core function area: health systems, knowledge translation, and implementation
Lee Fairclough is the Vice-President of Strategy, Knowledge Management and Delivery at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Since joining the Partnership in its first year of operations as part of the inaugural executive team, Ms. Fairclough has contributed to the organization’s startup and is passionate about working with partners to determine how pan-Canadian actions to advance cancer control can have a measurable impact for Canadians.
Ms. Fairclough has a diverse background which includes clinical experience as a radiation therapist, health research and informatics experience, systems planning and policy, and institutional board membership. She is a past member of the Institute Advisory Board of the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a past Board member of Unison Health and Community Services. Before joining the Partnership, she served as Director, Toronto Regional Cancer Programme, and Informatics and Administration Director of the Clinical Research Unit at Princess Margaret Hospital, part of the University Health Network in Toronto.
Ms. Fairclough has an undergraduate biology and mathematics degree from McMaster University and a Master of Health Science degree in health administration from the University of Toronto. She was the recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Award for her graduate studies.
Core function area: real-world clinical trials
Before becoming the CEO of AIHS in 2013, Dr. Cy Frank was a Professor of Orthopaedics Surgery, University of Calgary Alberta Health Services (AHS) and McCaig Professor of Joint Injury and Arthritis Research; Executive Director of the provincial Alberta Bone & Joint Health Institute (ABJHI); and Vice President, Research Strategy (AHS). Recent honors include: U of C alumnus of the year (2002), International Bone and Joint Decade “Builder”(2005), U of C top 40 alumni (2006), U of C Killam leadership award (2012), Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal and Order of the University of Calgary (2013).
Dr. Frank was a proud member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) where he chaired a Major Assessment: “Defining the Best Framework and Metrics to Capture Returns on Investment in Health Research” (2009). In 2011 he and his team received one of the CIHR/CMA Achievement award for their work “Improving access to hip and knee replacement and its quality by adopting a new model of care in Alberta.”
*Dr. Frank passed away in March, 2015.
Core function area: data platforms and services
Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer is Director, Institute for Population Health Improvement, UC Davis Health System, and Distinguished Professor, University of California Davis School of Medicine and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. He is an internationally respected and sought after health care thought leader and speaker, and one of very few persons elected to both the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Public Administration. He has been selected as one of the ‘100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare’ by Modern Healthcare magazine on several occasions.
Dr. Kizer’s professional experience includes positions in academia, philanthropy and the public and private sectors. His previous positions include: founding President and CEO, National Quality Forum; Under Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and CEO of the largest health care system in the US, where he engineered the internationally acclaimed transformation of the VA Health Care System in the late 1990s; Director, California Department of Health Services and the state’s top health official for nearly 7 years; Director, California Emergency Medical Services Authority and architect of the State's EMS system in the early 1980s; and President, CEO and Chairman of Medsphere Systems Corporation, a leading commercial provider of open source health information technology. He has served on the governing boards of managed care and health information technology companies, foundations, professional associations and non-profit organizations, as well as an advisor to numerous foreign countries.
Dr. Kizer is an honors graduate of Stanford University and UCLA, and he is board certified in six medical specialties and/or subspecialties. He has authored over 400 original articles, book chapters and other reports, and is a fellow or distinguished fellow of 10 professional societies.
Core function area: real-world clinical trials
Dr. Jonathan Sheffield is Chief Executive of the National Institute for Health Research, Clinical Research Network. This organisation is funded by the Department of Health to support the practical delivery of both academic and commercial clinical research in the NHS, and was responsible for recruiting more than half a million patients into clinical studies last year.
Jonathan trained as a doctor at Dundee University, before following a career as a histopathologist at Yeovil District Hospital, where he was instrumental in developing its research capabilities. In 2003 he became Medical Director for the Trust, before moving on to University Hospitals Bristol - again as Medical Director.
In 2009, Jonathan was awarded an OBE for services to the NHS. In 2011 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians’ Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine – its highest honour - for his contribution in the area of clinical research delivery.
A passionate advocate for clinical research, Jonathan's ambition is for participation in a suitable research study to be a standard treatment option, open to all NHS patients.
Core function area: health systems, knowledge translation, and implementation
Dr. Sharon Straus is a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation and Quality of care and more than $20 million in peer reviewed research grants as a principal investigator. She has >200 publications, and has supervised >20 graduate students from different disciplines including clinical epidemiology, health informatics and human factors engineering. She is co-PI of KT Canada, a CIHR and CFI funded national, Clinical Research Initiative, PI of KT Canada’s CIHR-funded Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research and PI of a network meta-analysis team grant for the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network.
Dr. Straus is Division Director of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Toronto and Director of the KT Program at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s. In 2011, she was awarded the Complete Physician Award and the Mentorship Award from the Department of Medicine, University of Toronto. She has authored three books. Evidence-based medicine: How to practice and teach it is in its fourth edition, and has been published in 8 languages. This year will see publication of the second edition of Knowledge Translation in Health Care, and the first edition of a new book, Mentorship in Academic Medicine.
Business plan development team
An expert team that helped to develop the initial business plan for the BC SUPPORT Unit was selected following a rigorous review and interview process.
The business plan writing team was composed of Stirling Bryan, Heather Harris, Scott Lear, and Sonia Singh (click for bios and affiliations), each of whom possesses multiple strengths that span the functional areas of the SUPPORT Unit – data platforms, real-world clinical trials, and knowledge translation/implementation science. The team’s composition was approved unanimously Nov. 8 by the SPOR initiative’s Interim Governing Council.
To ensure the team had access to the broadest range of expertise and experience in the multi-faceted clinical trials area, Heather Harris worked with a sub-committee consisting of Aslam Anis, Bruce Carleton, and Stuart Turvey. Similarly, to ensure the team benefits from appropriate expertise and experience with data platforms, Stirling Bryan worked with Kim McGrail of Population Data BC. Colleen McGavin and Gail Starr, patient representatives from the Interim Governing Council, worked with the team to help determine a mechanism for patient engagement in the development of the initial business plan and the completed SUPPORT Unit.
Dr. Aslam Anis is a health economist and Professor in the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Since 2006, Dr. Anis has been the Director of the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcomes Sciences (CHÉOS), a renowned multidisciplinary health outcomes research unit within Providence Health Care Research Institute in Vancouver, Canada. He is also the National Co-Director of the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) and Senior Scientist, Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARC).
Dr. Anis currently oversees economic analysis and health services research activities across Providence Health Care, with scholars who trained under Dr. Anis operating across CHÉOS, CTN, the Heart and Lung Institute (HLI), and the Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) in UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. At UBC, Dr. Anis is the theme co-lead for Health Services and Systems and Director of SPPH’s Health Administration Program, which in 2002 he transformed to an executive-style degree program offered in collaboration with UBC’s Sauder School of Business.
Dr. Anis was among the first scholars worldwide to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and he has published widely in the peer-reviewed literature on health resource use and costs among HIV/AIDS patients treated and not treated with ART. As the National Co-Director of the CTN, Dr. Anis is a co-investigator on a number of large multi-centered clinical trials that are facilitating prospective economic evaluations of interventions in HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Anis has published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers and garnered in excess of $125 million in peer-reviewed research funding. For his significant contributions in health economics, Dr. Anis was recently inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
Dr. Stirling Bryan is a trained economist with a career-long specialization in the economics of health care. His PhD (Economics) was obtained from Brunel University (UK), following a Masters (Health Economics) from the University of York (UK). For over 20 years he has been a university-based practising health economist with extensive engagement to the policy and decision making world. The vast majority of his career has been spent in the UK, initially in London (appointments at St. Thomas’ Hospital Medical School and then Brunel University) and subsequently in Birmingham (senior lecturer and then full professor at the University of Birmingham). He has taught health economics to undergraduate economists and medical trainees, to postgraduate health economics students and to health sector professionals.
Dr. Bryan's research track record reveals a longstanding goal of informing policy and practice. This is demonstrated, in part, through an extensive involvement with the UK National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE). For many years he led the University of Birmingham team that conducted economic analyses for NICE, and subsequently served for three years as a member of the NICE technology appraisals committee, advising on coverage policy. In 2005 he was awarded a Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellowship and spent one year in the US, based at Stanford University, researching technology coverage decision making in US health care organizations. His published papers reveal an ongoing research interest in coverage decision making processes. Since his relocation to Canada in 2008 (appointment as full professor in UBC’s School of Population & Public Health, and Director of the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation, VCH Research Institute), he has continued a focus on policy-relevant research. His current position, sponsored by Vancouver Coastal Health, sees him working alongside policy colleagues in one of BC’s largest regional health authorities.
Dr. Bruce Carleton earned his Bachelor degree in pharmaceutical sciences in 1986 from Washington State University. He continued at the University of Utah earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 1989. After completing a Residency in Clinical Therapeutics at the University of Utah and Primary Children's Medical Centers with an emphasis in Paediatric Clinical Pharmacology, he took a post-doctoral Fellowship position at the University of Minnesota in Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. Carleton completed a second Fellowship in Immunopharmacology at the University of Minnesota Transplant Center, and then joined the faculty at the University of British Columbia in 1991.
Dr. Carleton currently holds the positions of Professor of Paediatrics and Co-Chair, Division of Translational Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia; Director, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Programme (since 1994), BC Children's Hospital; and Senior Clinician Scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute, Vancouver, BC. He also holds appointments at UBC in the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and is an adjunct professor at the School of Health Information Science at University of Victoria.
Ms. Heather Harris is the Director of Operations of the British Columbia Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (BCCRIN). She has over 20 years of experience in clinical research, having worked with various pharma and biotech companies, non-profit organizations, academic research centres and an early stage CRO. She previously served as the co-chair of the Clinical Research Professionals of British Columbia and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Network of Networks.
Most recently, Ms. Harris served as Principal Consultant at h2h Clinical Research Services, providing clinical operations services to a variety of life sciences clients. Prior to her consulting role, she acted as Director, Clinical Operations at CANTEST Clinical Research where she stabilized an organization with high turnover and burn out and built an efficient, effective research team that received accolades from major pharmaceutical and biotech clients.
Ms. Harris’ roles in industry include Associate Director, Clinical Operations at QLT Inc and Corporate Clinical Research Associate Manager at Serono International S.A. In these roles, she led clinical operations teams in Canada, the US and Australia. She also led a team of associates in the procurement of global outsourced services in jurisdictions including the UK, Argentina, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Dr. Scott Lear is a Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and the inaugural Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul's Hospital, Providence Health Care. Dr. Lear is also the Director of Community Health Solutions (www.sfu.ca/chs). CHS engages with community partners to learn, develop, and apply novel and sustainable approaches, programs, and policies to enhance chronic disease prevention and management to support healthy individuals and communities.
Under the CHS, Dr. Lear's research spans the breadth of prevention of chronic diseases at a population level through the identification of environmental characteristics that may act as facilitators and barriers of healthy lifestyle habits that can then determine downstream cardiovascular disease risk (the so-called 'built environment) to the management of chronic diseases at an individual level as the lead of the British Columbia Alliance for Telehealth Policy and Research (www.BCATPR.ca), a team of university-based researchers and health authority decision-makers to develop, evaluate and implement Internet-based solutions for chronic disease management. Together this research will identify solutions that can be readily implemented into practice for the prevention and management of chronic diseases.
Dr. Kim McGrail is an assistant professor in the School of Population and Public Health, an Associate Director of the UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, a senior researcher with Statistics Canada and an associate with the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation. Her current research interests are in variations in health care services use, aging and health care services use, understanding health care as a determinant of health, comparative health policy, and the development of health information and technology to improve evidence and practice.
Dr. McGrail has conducted collaborative research with provinical and national agencies including the BC Ministry of Health Services, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Health Council of Canada. Dr. McGrail earned her PhD from the University of British Columbia and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Statistics Canada. She has a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Sonia Singh has been a family physician for twenty-three years and currently works as an Emergency Department Physician and Osteoporosis Consultant at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, BC. In 2000, she went back to school to complete a Masters of Health Science in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Singh developed the first multidisciplinary osteoporosis clinic in the Fraser Health Authority. In addition, she is the team leader of the Fraser Health Falls and Fracture Prevention Research Team, which was initially grant funded from the BC Network for Aging Research. She is involved in clinical research in the area of falls, fracture prevention / osteoporosis, and health economics.
Dr. Stuart Turvey is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, and a Pediatric Immunologist based at BC Children’s Hospital. Prior to coming to Vancouver, Dr. Turvey completed both his Pediatric Residency and Allergy/Immunology Fellowship at Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston. He holds a medical degree (MB BS) from the University of Sydney, Australia and a doctorate (DPhil) in Immunology from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Dr. Turvey is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and a Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics.
Dr. Turvey joined the UBC Department of Pediatrics as a clinician-scientist in July 2004. He provides clinical care in the specialties of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, while his research program focuses on pediatric infectious and inflammatory diseases -- major causes of death and illness of children in Canada and throughout the world. Specifically, Dr. Turvey interested in the role of innate immunity and Toll-like receptor signaling in protecting infants and young children from infectious agents, and how abnormalities of the innate immune system contribute to inflammatory diseases of childhood.
Expressions of Interest
In July 2013, the BC Ministry of Health and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) issued a call for expressions of interest (EOI) from individuals and teams interested in participating in the development and operation of a BC SUPPORT (Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials) Unit.
The deadline for submissions was September 30, 2013. Applications from respondents indicating interest in leading development of a SUPPORT Unit business plan were reviewed by MSFHR and BC Ministry of Health representatives, as well as members of an external expert group. Shortlisted candidates were interviewed by the review team and recommendations were submitted to the SPOR Interim Governing Council for approval. The recommendations were approved unanimously, and the business plan writing team was announced in mid-November 2013.
The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the BC Ministry of Health were responsible for conducting business plan consultations. In doing so, they were committed to ensuring the BC SUPPORT Unit would build on the province’s existing strengths, address gaps related to patient-oriented research, and reflect the diverse needs of stakeholders across the province.
To achieve this, the business plan project team undertook consultations with a broad cross-section of stakeholders from 2013 through business plan approval in December 2015.
- Senior leadership of the BC health system
- Health care providers
- Health researchers
- Experts on patient perspectives
- Patient partners