A 21st century platform at the intersection of healthcare and artificial intelligence


The following are some frequently asked questions about the Digital Health and Discovery Program (DHDP). If you have a question about DHDP that is not answered here, please contact us at nszudy@tfri.ca.

What is the status of the DHDP project? 

The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) was recently appointed the sole lead of the project as part of an amended agreement reached with the Government of Canada (ISED) signed on January 18, 2024. The newly signed agreement re-ignites the project, moving it forward from its recent hiatus, triggered by the change in management. We are excited to be moving forward with the confidence and commitment from the government as well as our members. We are moving full speed ahead with implementing existing and new initiatives for DHDP. TFRI is at the forefront of transforming and accelerating cancer research, enabling precision medicine across the health care system like never before in Canada. 

What is in the amended agreement and why was it needed? 

The agreement has been in development since the project went on hiatus about 19 months ago following withdrawal of the co-lead from management. TFRI submitted an amendment agreement to move ahead as the sole lead recipient under an updated project plan in 2022. This agreement defines the working relationship and new statement of work for TFRI and ISED going forward. 

How has the project changed/what’s new? 

While the project was on hiatus, TFRI and its partners have not been idle. Discussions about the next steps and future direction of the project have been ongoing behind the scenes. We have some new and exciting updates to share that aim to significantly enhance and improve the project operationally and technologically.

  1. We have new technical partners who are involved now in the project, Bitnobi and integrate.ai, who bring skills and expertise that enables the DHDP to move forward with a national framework and platform to securely manage access to digital health data.

  2. Development of a technical proof of concept.

  3. New completion date: 2027.

  4. Hardware eliminated: The project moves from a hardware system where equipment was installed in facilities to one in which data will be stored in the cloud-based system.

What stays the same? 

Our mission remains the same: To bring precision medicine and personalized care in cancer and neurodegenerative disease to Canadians through the application of big data and artificial intelligence. The total project investment of almost $50 million from ISED remains the same from what was announced in 2019. Our 52 members with signed agreements with TFRI are still committed to this project and remain involved and engaged. We remain committed to executing the programs and activities that are integral to our success in achieving the DHDP’s mission and goals. 

The main areas of focus that will continue are:

  • Refine and solidify our data governance framework and network policy based on Pilots/Pathfinder and requirements from the AI community. This work will help to build the governance framework (completed earlier through pilots in the Pathfinder project) and framework for data policy. 

  • Fund and deploy the policy stack and data governance structures to the different data generating members.

  • Define DHDP requirements, develop the DHDP MVP and pilot project protocol, standardize data ingestion, secure authorization deployed across hospitals, implement i-cloud storage plan

  • Membership recruitment and engagement.

How does this impact my current membership?

All existing members are still considered members of the DHDP. All membership agreements are currently active. If there are any changes in contact information on the membership side, please inform Natalie Szudy at nszudy@tfri.ca.

How do I become a member?

Find out many of the benefits to becoming a member, please click here and see our full list of existing partners.

What happens to the work that’s been done to date?  

It is still relevant and important. This work remains instrumental and foundational as we move ahead with the project restart. We will build on it, refine and revise it, and test it. The work aligns with the project’s mission and vision and is still the work of the partners involved.

What are the next steps for DHDP? 

We will be meeting soon with our Executive Committee to review the updated agreement and identity a go-forward plan that includes engagement with stakeholders:

  • Meeting with stakeholders to activate a shared focus on both existing and new priorities.

  • Continuing to grow the DHDP ecosystem with the engagement and signing of more members.

  • Announcing a new funding program shortly which was in development at the time we went on hiatus. Developing and delivering funding programs that achieve our shared goals.

  • Increasing our role and contribution to Canada as a leader in AI, particularly with regards to contributing and applying this technology for benefit to our knowledge economy. 

When do you expect funding for programs for new research initiatives to be available?

Part of the next phase will be undertaking a request for proposals to support the development and delivery of new and existing research programs (Catalyst, AI Chairs, DHDP RFPs). This will commence early in 2024. This is one of our immediate priorities with the resumption of the next phase.

Who do I contact if I need more information?

If you have any other questions about the DHDP that are not answered here, please contact Natalie Szudy at nszudy@tfri.ca. We look forward to hearing from you.