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CIHR – Scientific Director, Institute of Cancer Research

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is seeking a collaborative and visionary Scientific Director for the Institute of Cancer Research (CIHR-ICR), one of CIHR’s 13 virtual Institutes. This is a 4-year mandate with the possibility of an extension.

CIHR is committed to the values and principles of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across all aspects of its business. CIHR encourages applications from candidates who have been historically excluded and marginalized including, but not limited to, applicants who identify as Indigenous, a racialized minority, a person with a disability, women, and/or a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community.


CIHR is Canada’s federal health research funding agency. Composed of 13 virtual Institutes, CIHR collaborates with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system. Under the authority of the CIHR Act and in line with CIHR’s accountability to Governing Council and the Government of Canada through the Minister of Health, CIHR strives to create new scientific knowledge and enable its translation, focusing on the health priorities that are important to Canadians.

CIHR’s recently launched Strategic Plan 2021-2031: A Vision for a Healthier Future establishes the context that will allow Canadian health research to be internationally recognized as inclusive, collaborative, transparent, culturally safe, and focused on real world impact. CIHR is committed to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion.  Additionally, CIHR embraces a distinctions-based and culturally safe approach, incorporating Indigenous Ways of Knowing, by listening attentively to and working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples to further strengthen Indigenous health research in Canada.

The CIHR-ICR funds cancer research in Canada based on internationally accepted standards of excellence with the goal of reducing the burden of cancer on individuals and families through prevention, screening, diagnosis, effective treatments, psychosocial support systems, palliation and survivorship. CIHR is one of the leading cancer research funders in Canada. The CIHR-ICR is dedicated to creating and maintaining a robust cancer research environment in Canada that attracts and sustains world-class researchers by providing leadership and support. Since its inception, CIHR-ICR’s strategic focus has been to lead the development of proven approaches to cancer research, including multi-Institute and interdisciplinary approaches.

CIHR-ICR’s goal is to maximize the impact of research investments and to advance health innovation in Canada within the area of cancer research. In doing so, CIHR-ICR focuses on important gaps and emerging areas in cancer research, including cancer prevention, equity, high fatality/hard to treat cancers, and health services and health economics in cancer control. CIHR-ICR’s current areas of strategic investment include promoting early detection, survivorship, primary prevention, and redressing cancer health disparities. Given the broad impacts of COVID-19, including but not limited to delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment, it is anticipated that this will be a major area of focus in the coming years. Canada is projected to face an increasing number of cancer cases related to the growing and aging population. By facilitating partnerships and working to accelerate the translation of knowledge, CIHR-ICR addresses the risk of cancer, its prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and palliation for the benefit of all Canadians including cancer patients and survivors.

CIHR-ICR takes a lead role in the establishment of a national strategic cancer research agenda and improves the health of Canadians by supporting cross-cutting research initiatives that lead to enhanced cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Through partnerships with charities, other funders, as well as federal, provincial, and non-governmental organizations, including patient groups, the Institute aims to fund research that supports cancer control priorities, and that maintains a robust cancer research environment that attracts and sustains promising early career researchers, renowned investigators, and research teams. CIHR-ICR maintains a positive partnership with both the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA).

CIHR-ICR has developed strong partnerships with many CIHR Institutes, co-leading two initiatives (the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC) and Personalized Health); and actively participating in a number of others (i.e. Transitions in CareCanadian Microbiome InitiativeIntegrated Cannabis Research Strategy). Other areas of investment include metastatic breast cancer and participation in the recent Global Alliance for Chronic Disease call in the area of cancer. Building capacity through programs that support career development for trainees, and early- and mid-career investigators is a key part of CIHR-ICR’s commitment to support the health research enterprise, as is a strong emphasis on the facilitation of knowledge mobilization through strong partnerships and communications strategies.

Key Responsibilities

Reporting directly to the CIHR President, and working with the senior members of CIHR’s team as well as other Scientific Directors, the Scientific Director of CIHR-ICR will provide overall executive direction and scientific leadership for CIHR-ICR, and will champion and support health research and knowledge mobilization at the highest level of scientific excellence.

As Scientific Director of CIHR-ICR, the incumbent will:

  • support cancer research across all areas;
  • maintain an active presence in the health research community through attendance at, and contributions to, workshops, conferences, scientific fora and other related activities to maintain scientific standing and engagement with the science community;
  • foster partnerships amongst researchers, knowledge users, clinicians, patients, and other funders as well as other CIHR Institutes to sustain inter- and transdisciplinary inter-sectoral research initiatives and explore opportunities to develop new ones;
  • act as Canada’s representative with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and have a leadership role within the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA);
  • support capacity development of trainees, early- and mid-career investigators, as well as in emerging areas of expertise (e.g., artificial intelligence, data sharing, personalized medicine, advanced screening) to build health research capacity in CIHR-ICR mandate areas;
  • work nationally and internationally to raise the profile of, and partnering opportunities for, the Institute and CIHR;
  • prioritize the dissemination and implementation of new and existing knowledge to inform health practices and policies and improve the health literacy of Canadians;
  • play an important convener role with stakeholders, nationally and internationally, that contribute to the leadership of Canada in the area of cancer research;
  • ensure close alignment of Institute activities to CIHR’s Strategic Plan;
  • ensure the application of the principles of being an anti-racist agency, including but not limited to CIHR corporate activities and granting processes;
  • through both direct and indirect actions, foster and promote a culturally safe and inclusive environment; maintaining awareness of evolving best practices of equity, diversity and inclusiveness; and
  • provide strategic advice to the President of CIHR in support of corporate initiatives.

As a member of Science Council, the Scientific Director, in collaboration with colleagues from the other CIHR Institutes as well as the senior CIHR executive leadership team, will:

  • provide analysis and advice on Canada’s research needs, gaps, and opportunities;
  • contribute to the elaboration of CIHR-wide science policies and research strategies;
  • advise on the development of, and investment in, transversal strategic initiatives;
  • share responsibility as one of CIHR’s Institutes for achieving the strategic objectives of CIHR as delineated in the current CIHR Strategic Plan and the accompanying annual action plan;
  • act as an ambassador for CIHR and a spokesperson for health research on national and international scenes; and
  • embody the ‘Calls to Action’ of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and at all opportunities, seek to promote the inclusion of Indigenous Ways of Knowing and learning in the culture and programs of CIHR.

Key Qualifications

The successful candidate will:

  • have a PhD and/or MD degree or equivalent in a discipline relevant to the CIHR-ICR mandate;
  • hold a position at, or be affiliated with, a CIHR eligible institution*;
  • have a demonstrated track record of research accomplishments at both the national and international level in accordance with the 2021 San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA);
  • have extensive experience mentoring diverse trainees and students, possess effective mentorship skills including the ability to stimulate and foster the development of trainees, and early- and mid-career investigators to support capacity building;
  • have a demonstrated track record of integration of best practices in equity, diversity and inclusion into all aspects of the work environment;
  • be a visionary and broad-minded leader;
  • understand the complexity of the cancer research landscape and work to ensure all areas and their constituent communities are properly represented;
  • demonstrate a clear scientific and strategic vision, including continuity for the Institute and its role within CIHR, an in-depth understanding of the relative strengths, gaps and opportunities in fields related to the CIHR-ICR mandate;
  • have a working knowledge of project management processes and practices, including the ability to undertake planning and prioritization processes in the face of limited resources;
  • be an excellent and culturally competent communicator, facilitator and convener, able to listen and build relationships with broad and diverse stakeholders;
  • be a strong advocate for health research across CIHR’s 4 themes (biomedical; clinical; health services; and social, cultural, environmental and population);
  • demonstrate a thorough understanding of the value of engaging with partners and key stakeholders in cancer research; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of human and financial resources management, including fostering an inclusive and culturally-safe work environment.

* Questions about CIHR eligible institutions can be directed to

Important Notes

The start date for this role will be no later than July 1, 2022.

The Scientific Director will remain an employee of their host institution and will be required to devote no less than 50% of their time to the provision of services to CIHR.

CIHR will endeavor to provide the following, in support of the incoming Scientific Director of CIHR-ICR:

  • Reasonable ongoing support to ensure the continuity of the Scientific Director’s research program, while in post; and
  • Research support to facilitate the Scientific Director’s re-entry into the competitive market following completion of their term(s).

The Scientific Director will be provided with the funding, through an annual Institute Support grant, to hire a support team through their host academic institution. The host institution is also expected to provide support to the SD and Institute, for example, by providing access to office facilities. The Scientific Director will be expected to integrate equity, diversity and inclusion best practices in the promotion, recruitment, and retention of the team members.

The 50/50 model ensures the critical role of Scientific Directors remaining abreast of research developments in their respective areas of study, while also creating a higher potential for the emergence of potential, perceived, or actual Conflict of Interest (COI) situations. Scientific Directors are subject to the CIHR Policy on Conflict of Interest Prevention and Management for Scientific Directors, Members of Governing Council and Advisory Bodies. CIHR’s policy on Conflict of Interest aims to proactively avoid and prevent COI situations where personal interests (research, financial, familial) may be a potential, perceived, or actual, conflict with a Scientific Director’s CIHR responsibilities. The COI policy outlines that Scientific Directors are not permitted to compete for CIHR funding while in office and in some instances it may be required to reduce or completely relinquish their role on existing research projects should an actual significant risk of conflict of interest be determined.

Upon appointment, the Scientific Director candidate will be required to submit a Declaration of External Interests Form. Prior to assuming the responsibilities of the Scientific Director, the candidate will be expected to arrange their personal affairs in such a manner as to prevent their external interests from conflicting with the performance of their CIHR responsibilities. If such a conflict arises, it is to be declared and resolved in the interests of CIHR and for the public good. For more information, click here.

If you have any questions regarding the conflict of interest policy, please contact

If you require accommodations at any point during the application and hiring process, please contact

Preference will be given to Canadian citizens, and proficiency in both official languages is an asset.

How to Apply

Please email your CV with a cover letter and 3 references (include name, relationship and email address) to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research at

Submissions must be received by September 30th, 2021.

For more information about CIHR, its vision and priorities, please visit the CIHR website. For more information about CIHR-ICR and its strategic priorities, please visit the CIHR-ICR website.

If you have any questions regarding this exciting leadership opportunity, please contact

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