CIRN continues to function as a network of networks and serves as a primary source of research capacity to provide data to inform public health decision-making about immunization programs to improve the health of Canadians. CIRN’s niche is at the interface of clinical research, surveillance and epidemiological research, and public health program evaluation. CIRN’s focus is on late-stage vaccine evaluation of program implementation.
In continuation of the successful PHAC/CIHR Influenza Research Network (PCIRN), from 2009-2014, CIRN was funded from June 2014 – May 2017 by a three-year grant of $6.6 million from PHAC and CIHR. A directed CIRN renewal grant application was submitted in February 2017. In April 2017, the network was notified that it is fully funded for $10,083,334 over the next 55 months, 2017-2022.
The next phase of CIRN hopes to further strengthen Canada’s research capacity, evidence base, and expertise in the field of immunization and vaccines for vaccine-preventable disease. CIRN plays a pivotal role in mentoring early-career researchers, recruiting new investigators, providing opportunities for trainees, and delivering meaningful engagement of stakeholders at all research stages.
CIRN is divided into eight research sub-networks. 2017 marks an exciting continuation phase of CIRN. The network comprises over 100 investigators across 40 Canadian institutions, involving experts in vaccine-related evaluative research.
CIRN is overseen at the executive level by a Management Committee (MC), comprising the Nominated Principal Applicant (NPA) who acts as Chair of the MC, Principal Applicants (PA), who lead the sub-networks, the chairs of the CIRN Committees, members-at-large, and one non-voting representative from both PHAC and CIHR. The current members are:
- Scott Halperin, Dalhousie University, Nominated Principal Investigator, CIRN
- Julie Bettinger, UBC, Network Lead – Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network
- Joanne Langley, Dalhousie University, Network Lead – Clinical Trials Network
- Shelly McNeil, Dalhousie University, Network Co-Lead – Serious Outcomes Surveillance Network
- Melissa Andrew, Dalhousie University, Network Co-Lead – Serious Outcomes Surveillance Network
- Karina Top, Dalhousie University, Network Lead – Special Immunization Clinics Network
- Eve Dubé, Université Laval, Network Lead – Social Sciences and Humanities Network
- Natasha Crowcroft, Public Health Ontario, Network Co-Lead – Provincial Collaborative Network
- Jeff Kwong, ICES/Public Health Ontario, Network Co-Lead – Provincial Collaborative Network
- Brian Ward, Université McGill, Network Lead – Reference Laboratory Network
- Marc Brisson, Université Laval, Network Lead – Modeling and Economics Research Network
- David Scheifele, Child and Family Research Institute – Clinical Trials Network
- Mark Loeb, McMaster University – Clinical Trials Network, Serious Outcomes Surveillance Network
- Philippe De Wals, Université Laval
- Shelley Deeks, Public Health Ontario – Provincial Collaborative Network, Social Sciences and Humanities Network, Modeling and Economics Research Network
- Gaston De Serres, Université Laval – Special Immunization Clinics Network
- Gina Charos and Lianne Bellisario, Public Health Agency of Canada
In late 2013, CIHR presented a grant opportunity to researchers in Canada interested in vaccine study. PCIRN investigators proposed to take on this application and a call to all interested researchers in Canada was made; shortly after, the proposed Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) was formed by a national network of investigators.
On December 16, 2013, the CIRN Research Committee formally submitted their Letter of Intent to CIHR, which received approval to move forward from CIHR on February 17, 2014. The following May, a full proposal was submitted and subsequently approved in July, 2014. Official funding for the CIRN network began in June of 2014.
This first iteration of CIRN was funded through a three-year grant of $2.2 million per year from the Public Health Agency of Canada and CIHR from June 2014-17.
PCIRN was launched through a three-year grant of $4.6 million per year from the Public Health Agency of Canada and CIHR in 2009. The network was originally designed to carry out a three year plan to develop and test procedures for evaluating a pandemic vaccine using seasonal influenza vaccine as a model. Following the declaration of the pandemic that same year, the investigators of the new network immediately revised research plans in order to evaluate the H1N1/09 vaccine.
In February 2012, PHAC and CIHR invited network investigators to participate in a directed grant application for an additional three years of funding of $1.5 million per year, to 2015. In its six years of operations, the PCIRN Network and its investigators have contributed an immense amount of valuable vaccine research through various studies, publications, and knowledge translation.