The OHTN is funded by the Ontario taxpayers through the Government of Ontario as part of Ontario’s strategic plan and response to the HIV epidemic.
For this reason, the OHTN must ensure its research investments are aligned with the province’s needs and interests.
Compared to other HIV research funders, the OHTN is relatively small. Our goal is not to duplicate research funded by larger organizations, or to try to fund everything; instead, we aim to act as a niche funder, established specifically to address HIV research needs in Ontario, and to support research that will lead to tangible return-on-investments.
The OHTN has always funded scientifically rigorous research. Going forward, we want to ensure the rigorous research we fund has impact.
To achieve its mission and the goals of its strategic plan to 2015 and contribute to broader provincial goals, the OHTN will take a more strategic, solution-focused, purpose-driven approach to funding research and researchers. It will focus on answering questions and solving problems that are highly relevant to one or more of the populations in Ontario most affected by HIV: people living with HIV; gay men and other men who have sex with men; African, Caribbean and Black men and women; Indigenous men and women; men and women who use drugs; and women who have unprotected sex or share drug equipment with people from these populations.
The OHTN will:
- Ensure that its research programs continue to be rooted in the principles and values of the OHTN, and involve people living with HIV in meaningful ways in all aspects of its funding programs
- Invest in rigorous, community relevant, community engaged research that has a high potential to solve problems and have a measureable impact on the populations most affected in the short to medium term (i.e., 2-5 years)
- Strive to ensure the proportion of funding devoted to research for/with specific populations reflects the epidemiology of the epidemic, while continually working with our research funding partners to minimize any gaps in research and address relevant populations/areas of research not funded elsewhere when setting priorities
- Recruit (as well as train and mentor) the best and brightest researchers – investing in people and supporting champions who can “fire up” health research programs, build Ontario’s capacity to conduct research across all streams that will meet the needs of affected populations and be competitive for national and international research funding
- Recruit (as well as train and mentor) community members, specifically people living with HIV/AIDS – investing in capacity building to enhance their engagement in all aspects of research including grant writing, the proposal review process, and knowledge translation and exchange (KTE)
- Enhance relationships between researchers, people living with HIV, community-based agencies, health care providers, government policy makers, and educators – to build a culture of reciprocity and shared learning
- Provide capacity building support to trainees and researchers who are no longer eligible for OHTN funding to apply to other sources of funding, such as CIHR, CANFAR and NIH
- Support interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary research that considers all the determinants of health and strives to solve the complex physical, mental, emotional, social and health service problems of populations most affected by HIV and create more integrated, effective programs and services
- Support innovative and effective knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) methods and approaches that will put evidence into the hands of people who will use it and help translate (as well as adapt and apply where necessary) research findings into effective, evidence-informed programs and services for populations most affected by HIV
- Work closely with funded researchers to understand the context for their work, assist with managing any challenges, help them meet their objectives, and understand and help disseminate their findings
- Ensure all funded research is rigorously evaluated for its relevance and impact – including social, health and economic benefits – by adapting the model developed by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences1
- Collaborate with CIHR, CANFAR and other HIV research funders to ensure the most effective use of limited resources to support research across all streams and enhance our new mandate.
To help researchers determine whether their ideas are a good fit with OHTN’s research funding, the OHTN will be explicit about what it will not fund, including:
- Prevention initiatives aimed at the general population (i.e. low risk individuals)
- Clinical research that ought to be funded by industry and pharmaceutical companies
- Research that is already being funded by others, or that is in process or has already been conducted by others
- Salary support for researchers who have tenured research positions, or those who have salary support from other sources2