Message from the Acting President: Update on the Spring 2018 Project Grant competition

December 21, 2017

Dear colleagues,

Before I comment on the Project Grant: Spring 2018 competition, I’d like to thank each Chair, Scientific Officer, and reviewer involved in the peer review process for the Fall 2017 competition. The final face-to-face panel meetings wrapped up last week, and we are all very appreciative of the tremendous effort that our volunteers put into their reviews and the resulting panel discussions. Thanks to them, we are still on track to release the results for the Fall 2017 competition on January 23, 2018.

News on the Spring 2018 competition

As you may recall, the dates for the Spring 2018 competition were posted alongside the dates for the Fall 2017 competition (which was launched back in July). While those dates have not changed, we have made some minor yet important changes to the application process.

  1. Institute-specific Priority Announcements have been added to the Project Grant: Spring 2018 competition.

    • Priority Announcements (PAs) are additional sources of potential funding for highly ranked applications that were not funded through the Project Grant competition. For information about the PA mechanism and how it works, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions on our website.
    • Applicants must identify their PAs of choice (up to three) at the Application stage. The steps involved in this process will be outlined in the updated Application Instructions, which will be available in mid-January.
    • The complete list of available PAs is now accessible through the “Description” section of the RFA on ResearchNet. I encourage applicants to read through them well in advance of the application deadline.
  2. Applicants will be required to provide a brief justification (rationale) for their panel choice.

    • As with the Fall 2017 competition, applicants must indicate the peer review panel(s) whose mandate is most relevant to the research being proposed in the application. Applicants may indicate up to two panels at the Registration stage.
    • A new feature for the Spring 2018 competition is a textbox, to be completed at the Registration stage, requiring applicants to provide a brief justification for their primary and secondary panel suggestions. This information will help the Chairs and Scientific Officers to determine which panel best fits each application.
    • An applicant’s suggested panel(s) and the corresponding justification will remain unchanged between Registration and Application. Applicants are encouraged to read through the panel mandates to weigh their options before registration opens on January 16, 2018.
    • The panel mandates will be largely unchanged from the Fall 2017 competition. We are gathering and analyzing feedback on the mandates, based on surveys and panel discussions. We plan to work with the community to consider mandate changes for the Fall 2018 competition. 
  3. Applicants responding to previous reviews

    • Applicants who respond to previous reviews will be required to attach the reviews being addressed.
    • Applicants will have 2 pages to respond to reviews (this is the same as the previous competition).

These changes are part of our ongoing effort to improve peer review processes at CIHR. I look forward to keeping the research community informed and involved as this work progresses in the new year.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a very happy 2018!


Roderick R. McInnes, C.M., O.Ont., MD, PhD, FRSC
Acting President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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