The drivers for the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry to significantly strengthen its research engagement stem from two sources:
To meet these goals, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry must continue to build on its research excellence. The success of this strategic direction will depend upon the enhancement of our research infrastructure and implementation of the recommendations in the research white paper (May 2011).
Various indicators point to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s challenge in keeping up with its competition in research. In recent years, the School has been ranked either 7th or 8th among the 17 Canadian medical schools in terms of research revenue. Comparably sized medical schools have risen in the rankings in recent years; however, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s position in the middle of the pack is unchanged.
While biomedical research (CIHR pillar 1) continues to be strong at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, failures to progress in funding successes can be, in part, attributed to the challenge to fully embrace emerging areas of research or funding opportunities such as large-scale clinical research, translational research, and large-scale population and health services research. These are areas now identified as CIHR’s pillars 2, 3 and 4. These areas have been targeted by CIHR as part of its road map (Strategy on Patient-Oriented Research – SPOR) to enhance knowledge translation to improve health outcomes for Canadians.
The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry has built strong research capacity and expertise in a number of areas, including biomedical imaging; cancer; cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic disease; infection and immunity; maternal, fetal, child and family health; musculoskeletal; and neurosciences. In drilling down to a specific health condition, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry may have active research occurring across fields of epidemiology, animal models, in vitro studies, human studies, and others.
However, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry researchers are not organized around thematic or programmatic areas. An organizing structure around specific themes or conditions may bring considerable value to creating synergy and cohesive approaches across disciplines and pillars and potentially leverage opportunities for greater impact on health outcomes. Such structures will be foundational in creating leading multi-disciplinary research centres in key areas over the next five to 10 years.
The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry has reached a critical juncture in addressing its research mission. The new leadership at Western University and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and their affiliated teaching hospitals, coupled with forthcoming new funding opportunities provincially, nationally and internationally, provide the environment to gain significant traction.
The recently released Discussion Paper on the Organization of Research at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (May 2011) highlights a bold action plan for organizational, cultural and programmatic changes to fundamentally redevelop the Schulich Medicine & Dentistry infrastructure to enhance research competitiveness.
The advancement of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s research enterprise is critical to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s vision for the next decade.