Embedded Clinician Researcher Salary Award: Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility of individual applicants

1. Can someone who is an active clinician but does less than 50% of clinical service still apply? And/or is it is okay to protect more than 50% of time for research? I hold an active license as a health professional but am too busy with my research to practice, do I still qualify?

The applicant needs to spend at least 50% of their time (defined as 20 hours per week) on research (including integrated knowledge translation). Depending on the applicant's normal weekly work hours (which may not be exactly 40 hours/week), it is possible they may spend more than 50% of their time on research, or less than 50% of their time on clinical practice and/or leadership. However, this award is aimed at people who are still in active practice and can assume a leadership role in health system transformation. Therefore, award holders still need to spend time on clinical practice and/or leadership. First, to be eligible to apply, the applicant must hold an active Canadian license to practice as a health professional. Second, CIHR will provide funding for applications that are relevant to the objectives and research priority areas described in the funding opportunity. As the award is intended to provide salary support for clinician researchers embedded in the health system, applications that do not clearly demonstrate the individual will take on an embedded clinician researcher role will not be considered relevant to the competition. In addition, applicants assessing their readiness to apply should note the review criteria "Applicant Track Record" includes both research and clinical practice and/or leadership track record. Finally, should the applicant be successful a condition of CIHR funding is that award recipient must maintain an active Canadian license to practice as a health professional during the tenure of the award. Applicants should consider whether the amount of time they propose to devote to research will allow them to meet this condition.

2. If I am presently a full time trainee am I eligible if I supply letters of support from a university stating they will support a faculty position, and from a hospital stating they will provide clinical post for duration of the project.  If I am autonomous in my work place regarding my research activities and the focus of my research for the salary award is significantly different from my PhD work would I not qualify under this stipulation?

For your application to be eligible the Nominated Principal Applicant must be an independent researcher.  Trainees are eligible to apply if, at the time of application, they meet the CIHR definition of an "independent researcher", as well as the other the criteria listed under "Eligibility to Apply". 

An individual who meets the CIHR definition of an "independent researcher" and who at the start of the award will also be a "trainee" as defined by CIHR will be considered an "independent researcher" provided that:

  • the research proposal covers only areas of investigation for which they are an independent researcher and not areas of research in which they are a trainee; and
  • they can demonstrate in their application to CIHR that they will have sufficient time to devote to the proposed research.

In these cases, the individual must attach a description of their area of study to their application.

3. Is an honorary university appointment sufficient?

At the start of the award, the applicant must be appointed to a position in an institution that can administer CIHR funds. For this reason, one of the eligibility requirements is that applicants must have a written commitment from a CIHR Eligible Institution (a Canadian university, medical school, teaching hospital, or research institution), via the letter from the Dean of Faculty or Research Director which accompanies the application, that includes a commitment that the applicant will hold a faculty or equivalent position as a clinician-researcher at the start of the award. Applicants unsure if their status allows their institution to administer the Embedded Clinician Researcher Salary Award funds should they be successful should contact their institution's business office well before the application deadline for confirmation.

4. Does the health system partner where the applicant is embedded have to name the applicant in a leadership role (in addition to providing partner contributions) to be eligible?

Applicants don't have to be named to a leadership role to be eligible, but it would likely strengthen the application relative to the review criteria as this funding opportunity is aimed at individuals that will be able to make transformative change because of their leadership role in the health system.

5. What is the qualifying degree as a researcher?

The qualifying degree is the degree which provided the applicant with the knowledge and expertise to conduct research in their discipline. Depending on the discipline, this degree does not need to be a PhD.

6. I was on sick leave, does this count towards the maximum 12 years of experience past the qualifying degree at the time of application?

No. Leaves of absence will be considered in the calculation of eligibility (i.e., will not count towards the maximum) and should be included in the Employment section under Leaves of Absence in your Common CV.

7. Do applicants have to hold existing CIHR-funds (i.e. research operating grant), as in the New Investigator Award program?

Applicants are not required to hold existing funds from CIHR. As part of the application, applicants must show that the sponsoring organization (and/or its partners) is able to provide $50,000 (cash or in kind) to support the applicant's research in each of the 4 years of the award.

Eligibility of applicant partner(s)/health system partner organizations

8. How many partners can you have - is there a limit? Could you have more than one partner (i.e. a university, a hospital foundation), especially for the support of the applicant's salary?

There is no limit on partners. A partner such as a university department, a hospital foundation or a provincial research funder could commit to support the required partner cash contributions towards salary or other cash contributions towards research costs. There does need to be a commitment from at least one health system partner where the applicant will be embedded and that partner must commit at least a portion of the required in-kind partner contributions towards research costs.

9. If we have matched funding from more than one health system partner (e.g. 50% hospital and 50% professional organization), does the work need to be embedded in both organizations or is it ok if you are embedded mostly in one of them?

Applicants can be embedded in more than one health system organization, but it would need to be clear how the research program is integrated or aligned with both organizations and to ensure the review criteria are adequately addressed. It would be ideal if the applicant's research program is linked or integrated as one clear and coherent program, rather than multiple projects that may not be related. If the research is to be embedded in only one partner organization than a letter of support from the other is strongly recommended, explaining their interest in supporting the proposal.

10. What is considered a health system partner?

A health system partner organization is part of the system of organizations, institutions, services and resources that contribute to:

  • direct delivery,
  • mandated quality monitoring, and/or
  • development of policy in the health system.

While academics may be integrated into the function of the health system partner organization, a health system partner would not include organizations or institutions that have an exclusive academic function.

Examples: provincial quality councils, provincial health ministries, academic healthcare organizations, community hospitals, regional health authorities, public health and home care organizations, health professional associations.

11. Is the department of medicine an acceptable partner or does it need to be from the hospital as well?

A department of medicine would not be considered a health systems partner based on the definition provided. While departments of medicine or other university departments may provide services through clinics or health teams, for example, it is those clinics/services that would meet the definition of the health systems partner and they would need to be a clear partner on the application as well.

12. If I already have salary support from a university, is this still recognized as support?

Yes, existing support and partnerships will be recognized.

Partner/health system partner organization contributions

13. Is the 25K partner contribution towards salary costs a top up or does the salary have to be reduced by that amount?

The funding opportunity doesn't specify how the partner cash contribution is applied to salary costs. The applicant and the institution would negotiate how the CIHR award and partner funds would be applied.

14. Is there a maximum amount of this $75,000 that goes to the salary and benefits of the clinician-scientist?  For example is the total $75,000 for salary & benefits or can we budget $50,000 for salary & benefits and $25,000 for trainees or expendables?

The funding opportunity doesn't specify how the partner cash contribution is applied to salary costs. The applicant and the institution would negotiate how the CIHR award and partner funds would be applied. However, the maximum of $75,000 in salary award from CIHR is only intended to be applied toward the salary of the applicant and costs associated with expendables and trainees are not eligible expenses. These could be covered through the cash or in-kind contributions of applicants' partners or through other funding mechanisms (e.g. trainee awards, research operating grants).

15. Is the partner commitment towards research $50,000 (cash or in-kind) over 4 years or $50,000 (cash or in-kind) per year for 4 years?

$50,000 per year over 4 years

16. Those of us who are clinicians with health system partners providing care to vulnerable populations, these agencies typically have very limited funds for research or evaluation as their funding is centered on reaching out to at-risk groups. Comments?

CIHR attempted to address this in the award design by including the option for cash or in-kind contributions for research costs. Such an agency could contribute a work space and facilities and other in-kind costs to support the research.

17. Regarding the commitment from the partner organization, what type of in-kind support would be acceptable?

In-kind research costs could be space and facilities (desk, meeting space), operating funds, infrastructure, equipment (computer, phone, printing costs), office supplies, data, research expertise, access to senior executive team, or other staff resources needed to support achievement of the program goals,  Any costs associated with the implementing the research and/or integrated KTE could be supported through in-kind contributions. Applicants should refer to CIHR's policy on recognized in-kind contributions.

18. I'm based in New Brunswick, what do I have to do to take advantage of the opportunity with the NBHRF funding

New Brunswick applicants who wish to have NBHRF provide the partner contribution of $25,000 (cash) per year towards salary costs must have a written commitment from NBHRF attesting that the applicant is eligible for NBHRF funds. Applicants must also have a written commitment from another partner organization confirming they will provide the required contribution of $25,000 (cash) per annum towards salary costs over 4 years should the applicant be successful but NBHRF funding be exhausted.

19. Can letters of support be included as appendices outside those formally delineated in the application?

Letters of support from institutions and organizations partnering on the application need to be included. Additional letters of support can be included as appendices if the applicant feels they are relevant, but the reviewers are not obliged to review the appendices.

20. Since the employer needs to provide a written commitment to protect 50% of the applicant's time for research, can that commitment be CONDITIONAL on the successful funding of the award? Or, does the 50% protected time need to be in place at the application deadline?

The protection of 50% time is required for those who are funded, so the commitment can be conditional on funding.

The Partner linkage tool

21. After completing the health system partner linkage tool online, where do you go to get the results of others who have completed the survey such as potential partners? Is this sent to individuals who signed up or is it posted somewhere on the web.

After completing the survey, the individual should receive an email with a link to the information sharing tool. They can then view others who have used the tool, but would need to contact any potential partners directly on their own to follow up.

Relevant research area

22. Would improving transitions in care between hospital and primary care be within scope of the broader transitions focus between hospital and community?

Yes, primary care could be considered within the family of services considered as community care.

23. Can the application focus on more than one of the three target areas (care redesign, quality of care, policy change)? Can the application focus on evaluation of a planned government policy change?

Yes, this could be the case. Again, the research program would need to be clearly described and address review criteria to ensure feasibility and appropriateness.

24. For the transitions of care - will the only "subject" considered be for "frequent users of the health care system?"

No it can apply to all transitions in care not just transitions among frequent users of health care.

25. Are SPOR-based applications (for example, for those of us already involved with a funded SPOR grant) encouraged or welcome?

All eligible Canadian applicants are encouraged to apply including those involved in SPOR.

26. Would a project dealing with quality of care in developing countries be considered potentially eligible, if the health partner is a Canadian institution?

Yes but the research would need to have some relevance to the Canadian health care system and alignment with the research priorities of the funding partners and the relevant research areas outlined in the funding opportunity. New Brunswick based applicants wishing to take advantage of the NBHRF partner funding opportunity would need to be conducting research based in New Brunswick.

Budget

27. Can you clarify the requirement for a yearly budget? Is this beyond the cash and in-kind contributions from a partner?

The budget justification should be attached in the budget module in ResearchNet. It must include details on the partner contributions for each year of the grant and break down how the cash and in-kind partner contributions are being applied to:

  • Salary costs of the applicant
  • Research costs (cash and in-kind) related to the applicant's Embedded Clinician Researcher Program.
    1. Examples of in-kind contributions towards research costs include (but are not limited to): space, operating funds, infrastructure, data, research expertise, access to senior executive team, or other staff resources needed to support achievement of the program goals. Please see the "In-Kind Eligibility Table" for a list of in-kind contributions recognized by CIHR.

Research Program

28. In terms of the project, should there be only one project described or a few complementary/overlapping projects?

There is no specific requirement on the number of projects included in the program.

29. For the requirement that the application address "the potential of the program to contribute towards generating a strong cadre of clinician researchers through proposed mentorship and supervisory activities," does this pertain to the applicant, rather than the potential of their program to additionally develop learners/additional new researchers?

This relates to the applicant's potential as a leader through the provision of mentorship and supervision, as well as the program of research to attract and provide opportunities for students.

30. In terms of the scope of the project, should projects be happening at a provincial or trans-provincial level, or would projects that are focused on the regional level be acceptable? I.e., would a project supported by a local public health authority be within the 'spirit' of this program?

Local research programs embedded within a single public health authority are definitely acceptable, as well as projects focused on a broader scale.

31. Are there plans to have other Embedded Clinician-Researcher Awards in the future?

This award is well-aligned with CIHR-IHSPR's strategic priorities and with the goals and objectives of CIHR's CBPHC and SPOR strategic initiatives, so we will be reviewing the opportunity following this first round to inform the continuation and direction of the funding program.

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