Eligibility of global health research at CIHR

June 2021

Dear colleagues,

CIHR recently published Global Health 3.0: CIHR’s Framework for Action on Global Health Research. The Framework sets out how we intend to leverage the power of research to accelerate global health equity for all. This focus on global health is in keeping with CIHR’s new Strategic Plan 2021-2031, where our goal is nothing less than becoming a world leader in the science of health equity here in Canada and around the world. One of our key strategies is to “Drive progress on global health research” (Priority D3).

While global health is therefore a major priority for CIHR, we acknowledge that members of the research community still have questions regarding global health research proposals and, in particular, their eligibility for funding under CIHR’s Project Grant program.

The answer is an unequivocal yes: applications focused on global health are eligible for CIHR’s Project Grant competition and are relevant to all peer review committees, pillars, disciplines, and Institutes.

Since its creation, CIHR has proudly supported and continues to fund global health research through Project Grants and other funding opportunities. Indeed, global health research is a core part of CIHR’s legislated mandate, which calls for CIHR “to contribute to the improvement of people’s health in Canada and the world.”

Furthermore, to address those comments regarding CIHR’s Project Grant program specifically, the Peer Review Manual clearly states that “projects that have a global health research focus, or include international collaborations, are eligible for support through the Project Grant program.”

That said, CIHR continues to see questions and peer reviews that highlight a misconception among applicants and reviewers that global health research is not eligible for CIHR funding and that funds cannot be transferred to team members based in low- and middle-income countries. We worry the persistence of these myths may hold back Canada’s research community from making important contributions to improving health around the world and may undermine CIHR’s parliamentary mandate to support this important area of inquiry.

As such, we have taken steps to address any lack of clarity in competition materials by updating the peer review manual and the application instructions and by including a global health module in the learning activities available to College of Reviewers members. We will also continue to ensure our current processes pertaining to eligibility rules are respected and that any potential negative biases identified in peer review are swiftly addressed by CIHR staff working with committee Chairs and Scientific Officers.

These actions are part of ongoing efforts at CIHR to further strengthen our support of global health research in the Project Grant program and beyond. We believe the actions that we are taking today will further support Canada’s global health researchers to achieve tangible health impacts for people everywhere.

Michael Strong, MD, FRCPC, FAAN, FCAHS
President, CIHR

Steven J. Hoffman, JD PhD LLD
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health
CIHR Scientific Lead for Global Health

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