Health Innovation Policy

Canada’s health landscape is rapidly evolving due to the speed of new discoveries in research and the changing health needs and demands of Canadians.

In partnership with the Canadian Institute for Health Research, Genome Canada, the Stem Cell Network, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and the Lawson Foundation, CSIP researchers are exploring policy challenges related to emerging areas of biomedicine, health research and implementation of new technologies.

Technological advances in health and health care research have tremendous potential for refining and expanding options for clinical practice and care, for improving understanding of human development and disease, and for conceptualizing novel upstream prevention pathways to improve population health. In some cases, these developments raise complex questions including issues related to:

  • regulation and implementation of emerging technologies;
  • access to and utilization of big data;
  • funding for new and experimental medical innovations;
  • balancing population demand with health system realities; and
  • ethical implications of using innovative computational epidemiological methods.

Identifying and understanding the challenges surrounding health innovations is critical if we want to maximize transformative technologies’ potential clinical, social and economic benefits, while mitigating their potential risks.

Current Research Programs

Funded by the Stem Cell Network Public Policy Impact Grant program (2016-2017), this project is led by Co-Principal Investigators Amy Zarzeczny (Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy) and Ubaka Ogbogu (University of Alberta).  Together with a multi-disciplinary team of collaborators, these investigators are examining Canada’s regulatory framework for stem cell research in the context of current scientific realities, with the goal of producing policy recommendations.

Funded by the Stem Cell Network Public Policy Impact Grant program (2016-2017), this project is led by Co-Principal Investigators Amy Zarzeczny (Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy) and Timothy Caulfield (University of Alberta).  The focus of this project is on identifying and exploring policy options for curbing the misleading marketing of unproven stem cell based interventions.

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the CNTRP is a national research network that includes more than 200 scientists, students, collaborators, patient partners and knowledge-users at 30 different sites throughout Canada. Amy Zarzeczny (JSGS) is an investigator on the Core 1Platform, responsible for Ethical, Economic, Legal and Social (EELS) issues. Zarzeczny’s work on this project focuses on policy and legal issues associated with organ transplant tourism.

This project involves a collaborative, interdisciplinary team and is funded by a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) Collaborative Innovation Development Grant. Amy Zarzeczny (JSGS) is a Co-Applicant on this grant and is leading the policy options arm of the project, which is focused on exploring policy options for governance, funding and delivery mechanisms that would support the long-term sustainability of this innovative model of mental health service delivery.

Working in collaboration with international partners from the University of Melbourne and the University of Edinburgh, Amy Zarzeczny (JSGS) is exploring the decision-making processes of individuals who are seeking information about stem cell research, with a particular emphasis on the expressed priorities of those considering pursuing unproven stem cell based interventions. Obtaining a better understanding of the informational needs and priories of information seekers in this domain will facilitate improved tailoring of resources aimed at supporting individuals in making autonomous, informed decisions. It will also provide valuable evidence needed to inform policy efforts to enhance governance of challenging areas of emerging biotechnology and medical research – including travel for unproven interventions – which require improved understandings of how risk, uncertainty and competing priorities can be managed most effectively.