Incorporated as the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute in December 2007 and renamed the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute in November 2016, the organization is the research arm of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Its mandate is to facilitate clinical research – particularly in the area of imaging and related fields – strategic to regional health care needs. Current research areas include but are not limited to cancer, cardiac disease, stroke, orthopaedics, Indigenous health, and lung disease. The Health Research Institute also supports clinical trials at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.


The Health Research Institute continues to build partnerships with government and non-profit funding agencies, other health and academic organizations, and industry partners. These partnerships are important to help facilitate health research in Northwestern Ontario. See our list of partners here.

For more about the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute, please read the latest Annual Report or find out more about our Scientists.

Advantages for Researchers and Financial Supporters

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute is unique. Until very recently, research facilities of this calibre would be housed in major metropolitan centres. The Information Age has changed that with instant long-distance communications allowing programs to decentralize and find their own space to grow. Indeed, scientists have found that Thunder Bay’s size and status as a regional hub have tremendous advantages. Below are some of the benefits researchers in Thunder Bay enjoy:

  • Clinical collaborations: It is easy to find clinicians in Thunder Bay and throughout the region. Research carried out by clinicians is on the rise in Thunder Bay, in part as a direct result of the Health Research Institute, and in part because of the new clinicians drawn to the region to take advantage of our facilities and access. Much of the research at the Health Research Institute involves partnerships between scientists and clinicians.
  • Cyclotron Researchers: who need radioisotopes have unprecedented access to locally produced material right on hospital grounds. The cyclotron was installed to support patients and scientists, eliminating delays due to shipment issues from southern Ontario.
  • World-class talent: The Health Research Institute attracts scientists from all over the world.
  • Focus on molecular imaging: The Health Research Institute specializes in imaging and image-guided interventions with programs investigating advanced systems such as HIFU, hyperpolarized gas MRI, and probe development.
  • Academic hub: Thunder Bay is home to Lakehead University, Confederation College, and the Western Campus of NOSM University. Lakehead University itself has been named the leading undergraduate research university in Canada several years in a row, and attracts students from around the world to join niche research groups. The Health Research Institute itself hosts several student research programs.
  • Funding support: Researchers and researcher/clinician teams can apply for a host of funding sources including Northern Ontario Academic Medical Association (NOAMA) and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) grants.
  • A beautiful place to live: Thunder Bay is located on the edge of the Boreal Forest at the “wolf’s eye” of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. This urban centre of 110,000 people has 20-minute access to downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, fishing, boating and kayaking, and other outdoor activities. Downtown Toronto is just 1.5 hours away with commercial flights to Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport as well as Toronto Pearson International Airport.