The Canadian Network on Hepatitis C

CanHepC is a national collaborative research and training network on hepatitis C virus funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). CanHepC brings together over 100 members including researchers and student trainees from different disciplines (Biomedical, Clinical, Health Services, and Social, Cultural, Environmental, and Population Health) and knowledge-users from across Canada, as well as international partners.

Our overarching goal is to improve health outcomes for people living with hepatitis C at all stages of the cascade of care, closing the gap between knowledge and practices while training and building capacity in research. An important part of our work is providing evidence to inform the hepatitis C elimination agenda in Canada and globally.

Since its inception in 2015, CanHepC has enabled hepatitis C research in Canada and internationally by providing a unique platform for collaboration with an infrastructure of cohorts, data linkage platforms and biobanks including:

  • Clinical retrospective and prospective adult cohorts and a pediatric cohort to assess the effectiveness of direct acting antiviral therapy on clinical outcomes in key affected populations and children including a sub-cohort on re-infection with a targeted sample repository of biological samples.
  • An innovative observational prospective cohort integrating in-person data collection with administrative database linkage to follow the trajectory of people who inject drugs through the care cascade including an Indigenous-specific component.
  • A platform for sharing expertise and resources building cross-provincial capacity for data linkage systems and mathematical modeling. Analyses using this platform have generated population-level cascades of care and modeled the future disease burden.
  • An implementation research program assessing system- and provider-level barriers and enablers to integrated community-based hepatitis C care in priority populations affected.

Another important goal of CanHepC is to train the next generation of investigators across all disciplines. Over 141 graduate trainees and 97 summer students have gone through the CanHepC Training, Education and Mentorship Program which started in 2003 as the National CIHR Research Training Program in Hepatitis C. Since 2015, the program has continued to expand in accordance with the scientific direction and mission of the network providing a more transdisciplinary approach. As part of this program, CanHepC recruits and provides stipend support and training to graduate, post-doctoral students and fellows. Find out more on our training program here.

CanHepC also works in partnership with many organizations involved as knowledge-users to discuss and exchange on new hepatitis C research and programming knowledge. Some of our main knowledge translation and exchange platforms include the Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus (CSHCV), the Blueprint to inform hepatitis C elimination efforts in Canada, and our Regional Hepatitis C Elimination Roadmap project.

Research areas and platforms: from Discovery to Implementation

Building on and expanding the network’s existing research infrastructures, CanHepC’s research program is built around two specific areas of focus each with underlining themes as well as cross-cutting platforms including our Training program:

Research Area 1: Optimising prevention and treatment programs to eliminate hepatitis C

Theme 1. Hepatitis C prevention determinants

  • Theme 1.1 Behavioural, social and structural determinants
  • Theme 1.2 Correlates of protective immunity in priority populations

Theme 2. Monitoring the cascade of care, and assessing progress towards hepatitis C elimination
Theme 3. Implementation science to optimise the cascade of care for priority populations

Research Area 2: Long-term consequences and health implications of hepatitis C infection, re-infection and treatment

A. Liver-related and non-liver related outcomes
B. Re-infection post-cure in priority populations
C. Care cascade in pregnant women with hepatitis C

Cross-cutting platforms
  • Training, Education and Mentorship Program
  • Knowledge Translation and Exchange Platforms
  • Indigenous Platform
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Platform