The Cowan Foundation builds capacity for innovation

September 6, 2016

Knowledge must be applied in practice to benefit people. The Schlegel research enterprises, Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and the Homewood Research Institute (HRI) are exploring innovative models to integrate research and practice to improve lives.

The Cowan Foundation is enabling both organizations to take this work to a new level. On Thursday, June 23rd the Foundation donated $100,000 to support the joint efforts of RIA and HRI to provide leadership in bringing evidence and practice together in aging and mental health and addiction.

Over the past several years the RIA’s Research Application Specialist, funded by The Cowan Foundation, has explored the process of knowledge mobilization and has identified key barriers, and more importantly, opportunities. Research must answer a need; engaging stakeholders in the research process helps to ensure the knowledge gained is relevant and can be of direct benefit. The findings then need to inform practice, programs, and policies where the information can translate into impact.

“Without the capacity to integrate learning into practice, research sits on the shelf. It often takes years to move from discovery into health care practice,” says Roy Cameron, Executive Director of HRI. “The goal of both organizations is to decrease that gap, so that emerging evidence benefits as many Canadians as possible, as fast as possible.”

The RIA is finalizing a framework to capture learnings to date and guide future knowledge mobilization efforts. While this framework considers the context of aging, HRI can readily adapt and apply these learnings to mental health and addiction, improving their own knowledge mobilization efforts. Key next steps will be utilizing these frameworks in upcoming projects and continuing the dialogue between both organizations about what works and what doesn’t.

The recent gift from The Cowan Foundation will pave the way for RIA and HRI to more effectively mobilize and apply the latest research. Through collaboration, both organizations can make strides in closing the gap between research and practice.

Pictured from left to right:
Terry Reidel, Executive Director, The Cowan Foundation; Margaret McKinnon, Associate Co-Chair, Research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Senior Scientist, Homewood Research Institute; Heather McLachlin, President, Cowan Insurance Group; Roy Cameron, Executive Director, Homewood Research Institute; Jagoda Pike, President and CEO, Homewood Health Inc. (HHI); Rob Schlegel, CFO, RBJ Schlegel Holdings Inc.