This is the first edition of our special series to mark The Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program’s 10th Anniversary!

Follow us on the journey of the creation of the network!

Early Days: 2011-2013

It all started in 2011, when the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – Institute of Infection and Immunity (III) organized a consultation workshop to obtain advice and input from members of the transplantation research community and interested partner organizations. Amongst the 60 participants, Dr. Marie-Josée Hébert and Dr. Lori West were there.

After the workshop, the CIHR Program Grant in Transplantation Research was developed in response to the workshop recommendations and CIHR opened a a request for applications (RFA) for a major network grant opportunity. Marie-Josée and Lori seized the opportunity and decided to team up and start working on a plan to develop a national network in the transplantation field.

They pitched their idea of this national transplant program to Dr. Jean Rouleau, Scientific Director at CIHR – Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (ICRH) at the time, proposing to organize another workshop to establish guidelines for a network. Dr. Rouleau was so impressed by the initiative that he decided to host the Workshop with Caroline Wong, Communications Project Manager. They were able to gather some of the most renowned players in the transplantation field, including Tony Jevnikar, Peter Nickerson, and Sam Shemie.

Despite not receiving an immediate response from CIHR, they continued to pitch the idea to many places during donation and transplantation scientific meetings and continued to develop independent partnerships.

  • “We didn’t wait for CIHR to develop the partnerships, we were out there.” – Dr. Lori West

They wanted to build an inclusive network with a supportive framework to gather not only money, but expertise and services for the research community.

In 2012, Marie-Josée and Lori had established a network that was way bigger than the base criteria asked by the CIHR. Their Letter of Intent (LOI) was so impressive that partners including Canadian Blood Services, Kidney Foundation of Canada, Canadian Liver Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, and Genome BC increased the total funding from $11.25M to $13.85M  as a 5-year grant to support the formation, operations, and research activities.

Finally, on April 21, 2013, the announcement was made of the success of the Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP) in Ottawa, with the CIHR President and the Minister of Health in attendance. And so, the CNTRP was born, thanks to the tireless efforts of Dr. Hébert and Dr. West.

Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP) announcement, Ottawa, ON | April 21, 2013

The vision

The CNTRP was committed to building an inclusive network and integrating communities in the fields of solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The goal was not just to provide funding for research, but also to create a supportive framework where researchers could collaborate and benefit from one another’s expertise.

They truly believed that a broad approach was necessary to make the most progress in the field and were committed to gathering forces from across different levels of research – not just clinical, but also basic science. By embracing a philosophy of inclusivity, they hoped to create an environment where researchers feel embedded and supported in their work.

  • “We were trying to establish a sandbox where everyone could come and play.” – Dr. Lori West

The network leadership, led by Marie-Josée and Lori, always wanted to provide an important platform for international discussions and dialogue, to bring together the diverse ideas and perspectives involved in solving complex transplantation and donation issues.

The unique aspect of the CNTRP approach was that it saw competitors as potential collaborators. They believed that by working together, they could achieve even greater advances in the field. With this collaborative mindset and a commitment to inclusivity, they truly believed they could make a real difference in the lives of those affected by transplantation and related diseases, hence the mission of the network: “Together we will turn transplantation into a cure”.

Lori West, Marie-Josée and David Hartell answered some questions from Communications Manager, Stéphanie Larivière

The renewal: 2018

The CNTRP had made significant progress in its first five years and was now very well-known at CIHR. Thanks to building lots of partnerships, the network involved more than 200 researchers and 30 sites within Canada, resulting in several impactful projects, activities, and platforms with tangible benefits to the transplant community and transplant patients. By then, the network had included a space for patient voices to transform patient/researcher partnerships with the creation of the Patient Researcher Partnership Platform in 2016. Patients were now integrated as co-leads, helping to ensure that the research focus was on the needs of patients and families.

Patient Engagement Workshop, Toronto, ON | November 25-26, 2015

CIHR was so impressed with the progress made by the CNTRP: the investment in the program was tripled from the original $14 million to $37 million through creative leveraging strategies and newly funded grants. In 2017, improving the organ donation and tissue transplantation system in Canada was identified as a priority in the Minister of Health’s mandate letter, so it made sense to continue support. A directed grant was developed to support the network’s infrastructure.

CIHR renewed its commitment to the network with a joint operational grant of $3.3 million  for three years and the CNTRP was transformed to what we know now: Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP).

Launched in 2013, the Canadian National Transplant Research Program is the only national research program worldwide that brings basic and clinical scientists in organ/tissue donation, solid organ transplantation (SOT) and hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) together with health economics, legal and ethics researchers, policy experts and knowledge users to overcome challenges in donation and transplantation.


  • April 2013: Announcement of the creation of the Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP) with CIHR President and Minister of Health in Ottawa, ON

  • September 2013: Launch of the CNTRP National Academic Training Program

  • June 2014: First Annual Scientific Meeting with The Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant group (CBMTG) in Halifax, NS

  • 2014: Launch of the CNTRP Astellas Research Innovation Grants

  • July 2014: CNTRP Summit at the World Transplant Congress in San Francisco, USA

  • June 2015: 2nd Annual Scientific Meeting with The Canadian Critical Care Trials Group (CCCTG) in Montebello, QC

  • November 2015: Patient Engagement Meeting in Toronto, ON

  • August 2016: CNTRP International Summit in Biomedical Research in Transplantation in Edmonton, AB

  • August 2016: Launch of the Patient Researcher Partnership Platform

  • October 2016: 3rd Annual Scientific Meeting with the Canadian Society of Transplantation (CST) in Québec City, QC

  • November 2017: 4th Annual Scientific Meeting in Mont Tremblant, QC

  • October 2018: 5th Annual Scientific Meeting with the Canadian Society of Transplantation (CST), Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and The Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant group (CBMTG) in Ottawa, ON

  • November 2018: Renewal & name change to include donation: CNTRP is now called The Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP)

  • 2018: Launch of the CDTRP Research Innovation Grants

  • October 2019: 6th Annual Scientific Meeting with the Canadian Society of Transplantation (CST) in Banff, AB

  • December 2020: 7th Annual Scientific Meeting and first online edition

  • December 2021: 8th Annual Scientific Meeting and second online edition

  • December 2022: 9th Annual Scientific Meeting in Kelowna, BC

10th Edition of the CDTRP Annual Scientific Meeting will be held in Montréal, QC on December 5-7, 2023!

OUR MISSION IS to drive advances in Canadian donation and transplantation research and mobilize knowledge so that every wish to donate is fulfilled and transplantation is transformed from a treatment to a lasting and sustainable cure.

Partner Organizations & Key People

The CDTRP has been able to develop and grow with the help of partners such as Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Liver Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, Genome BC and Kidney Foundation of Canada who were all there from the start.

And thanks to its strong partnerships and key individuals such as Marc Ouellette (CIHR-III), Jean Rouleau, and Caroline Wong (CIHR-ICRH), and Michael Tremblay from Astellas, to name a few. These esteemed partners believed in and trusted in Marie-Josée Hébert and Lori West and had faith in the network. With this support, CDTRP had the potential to grow into something big, bringing together individuals and organizations in a collaborative way of working.

Dr. Marc Ouellette

Dr. Marc Ouellette is an investigator at the Infectious Diseases and Immunity Axis of the Research Centre of the CHU de Québec-Laval University. He is also a full professor at the Department of Microbiology-Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Laval University School of Medicine. His work focuses on antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Ouellette holds a Canada Research Chair in antimicrobial resistance and was the Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity from 2010-2018. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Jean Rouleau

Dr. Jean Rouleau currently practices cardiology at the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI). Until November 2015, he was the Scientific Director of the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The Dean of the Faculty Medicine at Université de Montréal from 2003 to 2010 as well as a respected cardiologist and world-renowned researcher, Dr. Rouleau has also taught at the University of Toronto and was Director of Cardiology and the Cardiovascular Program at the University Health Network (UHN) and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Caroline Wong

Since 2011, Caroline Wong has been working as a project manager in health research. Former Communications Project Manager for the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), she was responsible for the development and launch of numerous funding opportunities and initiatives, notably the Environmental Urban Health Research Consortium funding opportunity and the ICRH Young Investigators’ Forum. Her experience includes working with research networks on strategic planning and evaluation, partnership development and consensus building.

As Executive Manager of the Centre of Excellence for Partnership with Patients and the Public (CEPPP), Caroline is responsible for overseeing the strategic, financial and resource operations of the Centre.

Michael Tremblay

Michael Tremblay was the president and CEO of Astellas Pharma Canada, Inc. from 2010 to 2018, where he led the Canadian management team while strengthening and expanding Astellas’ business presence in Canada. Before retiring in 2018, Mr. Tremblay’s career spanned more than four decades in the pharmaceutical industry, including sales and marketing, business development, training, and customer relationship management.

Stay tuned for more stories related to the CDTRP 10th Anniversary in the coming months!