Message from Jane Aubin, Chief Scientific Officer: Results of the inaugural Foundation Grants competition and Transitional OOGP competition

(2015-07-15) On behalf of CIHR, I am pleased to share the funding results of CIHR’s inaugural 2014 Foundation live pilot competition and the Transitional Open Operating Grants Program competition.

Grant recipients from these two competitions will share over $600 million in funding to carry out a wide spectrum of innovative projects and programs of research.

One hundred and fifty Foundation grants were funded, with 127 Foundation Grants awarded to established investigators and 23 Foundation Grants awarded to new/early career investigators. The average (mean) total grant size of a Foundation Grant is $2,726,023 (median grant size of $2,422,496), with a duration of 7 years for established investigators and 5 years for new/early career investigators.

Three hundred eighty-three Open Operating grants were awarded from the core competition. This was only possible by applying an across-the-board cut of 26.8%. The average (mean) total grant size is $656,204 (median grant size of $661,727) and the average duration is 4.5 years. In addition, 14 full-term and 103 one-year bridge grants will be funded through Priority Announcements and other sources for a maximum total of 500 grants approved from the Operating Grant 2014-2015 (March) competitions.

I would like to thank the more than 1000 reviewers who dedicated their time and expertise to make these competitions possible.

With these funding decisions, CIHR is striving to maintain a balance between providing sufficient funds to enable individual researchers to be internationally competitive, while providing adequate breadth of support to maintain Canadian capacity in health research. After analyzing the results of the Foundation competition, CIHR found that the majority of applicants asserted an established budget baseline that significantly exceeded their CIHR-established budget baseline amount. Applicants were asked to re-submit their budgets considering the CIHR-established baseline and provide further justification for any increases above this amount. Upon reviewing the re-submissions, all 150 Foundation grantees were, as a first step, allocated their CIHR-established baseline budget amount (this includes a 2% annual inflationary increase). The remaining funds available for this competition were then applied to fund the requested and soundly justified increases to the fullest extent possible while remaining within the limited budget parameters. For this competition, applicants with justifiable increases received approximately 30% of this increase.

The integration of CIHR’s legacy open programs, including the OOGP, into CIHR’s new Foundation and Project Grants Programs marks a significant change in how Canada supports its health research community. The 2014 Foundation live pilot competition provided CIHR with an opportunity to validate new processes and systems, and solicit feedback from applicants and reviewers. CIHR is currently analyzing all of the feedback received, and based on a preliminary analysis, CIHR is currently looking into a number of refinements for Stage 1 of the next competition:

  • Guidance for assessing “leadership” across pillars and career stages;
  • Additional guidance and clarity on establishing budgets for Foundation grants;
  • Clarity on how a mid-career researcher is defined;
  • Improvements to how appropriate expertise is aligned and assigned for applications to support best-practice within an application-focused review system;
  • Support for interpretation of review criteria to support their consistent application;
  • Implementation of new (and potentially mandatory) learning programs to support consistent, high quality peer review production.

We will continue to work with the research community during the 2nd Foundation Grants live pilot competition to ensure that applicants and reviewers have the information and training they need to successfully participate in future competitions.

Once again, I would like to thank our health research community for their continued support and engagement throughout this multi-year transition process.

On behalf of CIHR, I extend my best wishes for success to both our applicants and our successful grant recipients.

Jane E. Aubin, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer and Vice-President, Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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