AstraZeneca Canada invests $500,000 in FORGE AHEAD Research Program aimed at improving diabetes care in Indigenous communities

Unique five-year program combines clinical and community expertise to address urgent, unmet medical need


MISSISSAUGA, ON, February 19, 2015 // AstraZeneca Canada today announced a $500,000 investment in the TransFORmation of IndiGEnous PrimAry HEAlthcare Delivery (FORGE AHEAD) Research Program, based at Western University. Under the leadership of Dr. Stewart B. Harris, a professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) Chair in Diabetes Management, FORGE AHEAD is a five-year program that brings together First Nations communities across Canada, scientists and academic researchers, healthcare professionals, government and policy partners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and industry to improve diabetes management in First Nations communities.

Among First Nations peoples, the rate of diabetes is two to three times the national averageiand among Indigenous Canadians living on-reserves, the rate is even higher – three to five times the Canadian average.ii Additionally, complications related to diabetes are more frequently seen among the Indigenous population than in the non-Indigenous population.iiiDiabetes can lead to serious complications such as kidney damage, heart disease and blindness.iv

“Diabetes is having a growing impact on Indigenous populations,” said Dr. Harris. “Add to this the inconsistency of access to health care services in Indigenous communities, and it’s clear we have a significant public health challenge. Through FORGE AHEAD, we will develop and evaluate community-driven, culturally relevant, primary healthcare models that enhance chronic disease management and access to available services in First Nations communities in Canada.”

Dr. Harris will lead the FORGE AHEAD program toward several major objectives including; improving the understanding of type 2 diabetes in First Nations communities, developing tools and strategies that can be used and adapted for other chronic diseases in First Nations communities in Canada and finally, enhancing patient access to community resources for chronic disease care.“The impact of diabetes and the unmet need is great, particularly for Indigenous populations in Canada,” said Ed Dybka, President and CEO of AstraZeneca Canada. “As a leader in health care, we’re proud to support Dr. Harris and this leading-edge work that will provide important solutions for the delivery of improved diabetes care to First Nations communities.”

AstraZeneca Canada joins other leaders in supporting FORGE AHEAD, including nine provinces, the Assembly of First Nations, Health Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Indigenous and non-indigenous healthcare providers, the Lawson Foundation, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

This investment is another milestone in AstraZeneca Canada’s continued support of Canadian health sciences leadership and innovation in diabetes research. Together with the Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, AstraZeneca Canada created The Diabetes Junior Investigator and Diabetes Educator Awards to support research and patient education initiatives led by early career physicians, researchers and educators. Recently, AstraZeneca Canada also announced support for the AstraZeneca Impact Challenge for Cardiovascular/Diabetes at the world renowned Banting & Best Diabetes Centre and the Heart and Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research.

About AstraZeneca Canada

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. AstraZeneca's Canadian headquarters are located in Mississauga, Ontario. For more information, please visit the company's website


i Health Canada Website. First Nations and Inuit Health, Diseases and Health Conditions.
ii Health Canada Website. First Nations and Inuit Health, Diseases and Health Conditions.


For further information, please contact: Teresa Pavlin, Communications Manager, AstraZeneca Canada Inc.,