By the early years of the new century, policy-and decisionmakers in government, as well as within the health research community were raising critical policy questions and challenges about the health research enterprise. In response, in the fall of 2003, the Council for Health Research in Canada (CHRC) formed a Leaders' Forum Steering Committee, a multi-sectoral partnership representing organizations and agencies at both the federal and provincial levels, that strongly believed it was time to bring health research leaders together to take stock of our accomplishments, identify our challenges and discuss future directions.