About IMHA

The CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis is the hub for strategic initiatives in musculoskeletal(MSK), skin and oral health research in Canada. IMHA’s mandate is to support ethical and impactful research to enhance active living, mobility and oral health, and to address the wide range of conditions related to bones, joints, muscles, connective tissue, skin and teeth. Musculoskeletal health is critical for promoting the physical activity needed to maintain mobility, productivity and general health and well-being. Prevalent MSK disorders such as arthritis and osteoporosis can limit mobility and physical activity, creating a vicious cycle of inactivity, degeneration and loss of productivity. Similarly, poor oral health and skin conditions can affect overall health and well-being.

Musculoskeletal diseases affect 11 million Canadians annually over the age of 12. This number is projected to increase with the aging baby boomer population to up to 15 million in 2031Footnote 1. Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 1.5 million Canadians aged 40 and olderFootnote 2. Arthritis is reported to strike more than 4.2 million Canadians over the age of 15, with expectations of even greater prevalence of this disease in the  next decadeFootnote 3Footnote 4Footnote 5. The chronic skin disease psoriasis affects nearly 1 million CanadiansFootnote 6. Tooth decay and periodontal diseases are the most common chronic diseases in the Canadian population. Millions of Canadians lose teeth, endure pain and develop oral infections that contribute to systemic diseases, compromising their overall healthFootnote 7.

Who we are


IMHA's vision is to lead MSK, skin and oral health research and knowledge translation to improve the lives of Canadians.

To achieve its vision, IMHA has selected three overarching themes to guide and inform its selected strategic priority areas:

  • Capacity Building
  • Innovation
  • Translation

Over the next five years, IMHA’s three strategic research priority areas will be:

  • Chronic Pain and Fatigue
  • Inflammation and Tissue Repair
  • Disability, Mobility and Health


Four core values and accompanying approaches will guide IMHA’s activities and implementation of priorities: ethics, performance measurement, evidence-informed decision making, and partnerships and citizen engagement. IMHA’s values and approaches are strongly aligned with the strategic direction of organizational excellence being pursued by CIHR’s Strategic Plan 2014-15 – 2018-19, Health Research Roadmap II: Capturing Innovation to Produce Better Health and Health Care for Canadians (Roadmap II).

Values and Approaches


IMHA promotes interdisciplinary integrative research into ethical, legal and socio-cultural issues related to its research priority areas. High ethical standards are maintained by working closely with CIHR and academic institutions across Canada to ensure ethical research practices are employed. IMHA is keen on partnering with external groups and organizations that uphold high ethical standards.

Performance Measurement

A comprehensive measurement plan connects IMHA’s desired short- and long-term outcomes to metrics that can be readily collected and reported on. Performance measurement will improve IMHA’s understanding of underlying processes, and will help determine if IMHA is meeting its strategic objectives and where improvements can be made. Guidelines from CIHR helped shape the overall plan and ensure additional consistency and comparability across CIHR institutes.

Evidence-Informed Decision Making

IMHA aims to use the best available evidence from consultation, research, practice and experience to inform decision making and to develop strategic priorities and programs. The process is characterized by the systematic and transparent appraisal of evidence as an input into our decision-making process.

Partnerships and Citizen Engagement

Partnerships with relevant IMHA stakeholders – researchers, health care providers, policy makers, the Canadian public, the private sector and patients/patient groups – as well as non-traditional partners will ensure that all energy and efforts can work towards a shared vision. Special care will also be directed at the continuation of our citizen engagement activities, so that Canadians are actively involved in IMHA’s decision making and aware of our activities and the knowledge that is created.


Footnote 1

Canadian Orthopaedic Care Strategy Group. (2010). Backgrounder Report: Building a Collective Policy Agenda for Musculoskeletal Health and Mobility.


Footnote 2

Public Health Agency of Canada (2010). Fast Facts from the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey – Osteoporosis Rapid Response. (last accessed July 30, 2014).


Footnote 3

Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit, Toronto (2010). Building a Collective Policy Agenda for Musculoskeletal Health and Mobility, Canadian Orthopaedic Care Strategy Group, Winter/Spring, 7.


Footnote 4

Public Health Agency of Canada (2010). Life with Arthritis in Canada: A personal and public health challenge. (last accessed July 30, 2014).


Footnote 5

Perruccio, A. V., Power, J. D., and Badley, E. M. (2006). Revisiting arthritis prevalence projections – it’s more than just the aging of the population. Journal of Rheumatology, 33(9), 1856–62.


Footnote 6

Canadian Dermatology Association (n.d.). Living with psoriasis. (last accessed July 30, 2014).


Footnote 7

Ioannidis, G. et al. (2009). Relation between fractures and mortality: results from the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 181(5), 265–271.


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