Another Stellar Review for CAIHR!

The results are in!

The Caribbean Institute for Health Research has been adjudged as a first-rate research organization conducting work of global relevance. This is the main conclusion of the fourth Quinquennial Review (QQR) carried out by an elite panel of six academic leaders from the USA, UK, Tanzania and South Africa. In keeping with global best practice, CAIHR has a five-year (quinquennial) external review of its research activities, which has assisted in validating our science and research agenda in the international research community. The panel examined the relevance and quality of the outputs of the Institute, and offered guidance and advice in support of some of our plans for the future.

What was the panel’s overall conclusion on CAIHR?
CAIHR is a first-class research institute that has made its mark at the international level.

In their Own Words:

“The Institute has been notably successful in translating research results into policy within Jamaica and the Caribbean, and has elevated its research to a global level by engaging in south-south collaborations with colleagues in other regions such as Latin America and Africa.”

“CAIHR hosts impactful global initiatives that serve CAIHR, the Caribbean and beyond. CAIHR has bridged language and cultural divides to enhance the visibility and influence of its research in the Caribbean and wider global stages.”

“Excellence is readily demonstrated. CAIHR researchers have published primary research papers in leading journals that are well cited, developed policy papers that have influenced governmental actions, and secured individual and collaborative research awards of considerable value. Clear and credible plans indicate the evolution of existing programmes and a continued drive for scientific excellence.”

How Did We Get Here

The findings of the quinquennial review of 2015, prompted the development of a strategic plan in June 2016 that set the Institute on this growth trajectory. From our deliberations we decided to focus on building innovative cross-institute research themes and programmes that address regional and global health priorities; translating evidence-based research on priority issues that would in turn develop and strengthen programmes that improve lives globally; developing a cadre of highly skilled, outstanding researchers and professionals to respond to health needs in the Caribbean and beyond; generating sufficient income to sustain the institute’s needs, initiatives and projects; striving for administrative excellence; and rebranding the Institute.

What did the panel think of CAIHR’s strategic reorganisation?

Cross-Institute Research and Developing a cadre of highly skilled, outstanding researchers

“The four individual Units in CAIHR do a superb job in developing research lines working within and across different disciplines and with a variety of internal, regional and global collaborators, agencies and government departments. The Panel strongly recognises the benefit to the Units from being together and part of the larger CAIHR institute structure, which facilitates a greater impact than the sum of their individual parts. The Panel recommends that this integrative approach remains; the Units are stronger and more efficient together and this helps to amplify their impact.”

“The Panel was very clear that CAIHR has a formidable track record in leadership, capacity building and the nurturing of a “critical mass” of expertise.”

Cognizant of the fact that the Institute possesses a relatively small core of academics, we derive our strength from “making the whole more than the sum of the parts.” We accepted the imperative of cross-unit institutional research themes and programmes and the establishment of multi-unit research teams to conduct innovative projects within each theme. We implemented structured approaches to mentorship of junior and intermediate faculty and continued to train outstanding researchers and health professionals in areas consistent with the goals and objectives of CAIHR – including rolling out of our first blended learning programme – the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Research and Epidemiology. In so doing, we are vastly improving our institutional capacity to address regional and global health priorities while strengthening and extending the CAIHR network of regional and global research partners and stakeholders, including the Global Health Equity Scholars Programme, the Bernard Lown Scholarship program with the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Vital Strategies’ Healthy Food Policy Fellowship.

Translating evidence-based research

“The Panel is unstinting in its admiration of and praise for CAIHR in the tremendous progress the institute has made in managing and evolving its research agenda, and balancing the production of descriptive science with interventional and implementation research.”

“CAIHR stands to benefit from a strong history of producing impactful scientific evidence in important areas of research, including treatment of severe acute malnutrition, sickle cell disease, and early childhood development interventions.”

We have been more deliberate in identifying funding and research opportunities that involve the development of health interventions in priority areas; to share evidence of effective sustainable health interventions with policy makers in the region and internationally, and contribute to the design and evaluation of programmes at scale and to use peer reviewed, population-based evidence, generated by CAIHR and others, to inform and influence health policy and improve health outcomes in the Caribbean. In the last 5 years we have been involved in several projects involving Implementation /Policy Work, including Reach Up Parenting Interventions, Irie ClassroomToolbox, Healthy Food Policy, Regional COVID-19 Surveillance, and Hypertension Management.

Apart from University core funding, our main source of income remains grant funding from International funding agencies with some income from training. We have had success in obtaining larger grants that allow us to support our research agenda and that engage early career researchers and technical staff for longer periods.

Administrative Excellence

“A brilliant administrative team that comprises very few people who must deal with the needs of scientific teams that are mobilising substantial resources and positioning UWI boldly on the map, helping CAIHR punch well above its weight”

The push to strengthen our pre and post award grants management systems was spearheaded by our Manager through training, networking and partnerships. International standards were mirrored in an effort to improve grant support functions and strengthen links with the collaborating University departments. She facilitated training and resourcing of Grant Administration staff of the Office of Finance at the University of Cambridge, UK and the Fox Chase Cancer Centre, Philadelphia, USA. We expect this to give members of these departments access to mentorship and support in grants management with colleague research managers.

Rebranding the Institute and Strengthening Communication

“The Panel noted, and applauds, a strong sense of collegiality within the institute’s Units and the overall CAIHR scientific output is clearly indicative of substantial synergies between the Units. Recent changes designed to increase the frequency of communications between Units have had a clear and positive effect on scientific productivity.”

The Tropical Medicine Research Institute became the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR) effective August 1, 2016. The rebranding was done to better represent the multi-disciplinary scope of the work conducted by the Institute and to reflect our newly coined vision of transforming lives globally through innovative research and effective health interventions. We developed a strategic communication plan that considered the need to engage our stakeholders and manage our reputation in order to achieve the goals of shared corporate vision and improved people relationships; and deep understanding and appreciation of CAIHR’s mandate and achievements by the wider UWI community, key stakeholders and the public. An internal communication Mobile App was launched as part of the internal communication strategy, to facilitate and improve internal communication between all members of staff at the Mona and Cave Hill Units of CAIHR. Our website, social media and yearly newsletter were launched to project our research and achievements and to build awareness of the Institute in the academic and general community as well as strengthen partnerships within and outside of the UWI.

Final Conclusions

In coalescing around the impact of research and innovation on regional health systems, CAIHR will remain a regional treasure and beacon of knowledge. The staff are guided by values and passion for their work and this is a clear driver for CAIHR’s success.

CAIHR is plainly a jewel in the crown of the University of the West Indies

The Caribbean Institute for Health Research salutes our staff for their contribution in making us the centre of excellence that we are!