Launch of the Canadian 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research Funding Opportunity

The competition has now closed

The CIHR 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid research funding competition has now closed and notices of decision have been sent to applicants.

Funding decisions from this competition will be publicly communicated in the near future.


On February 14, 2020, CIHR updated the coronavirus research funding opportunity to reflect the discussions and priorities of the recent WHO Forum on the coronavirus outbreak. The updates include the change of the official name to COVID-19, refinement of research areas, additional conditions of funding (i.e. participation in international meetings), and new partner Genome Canada bringing the total funding to $6.75 million.

Details on the changes are available in the Notices section of the FO.

Read the news release on the WHO Forum and the summary report of the meeting.

The Government of Canada would like to provide further information on the pending launch of a rapid research response to contribute to global efforts to contain the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak.

This research response is aligned with the efforts of international partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). This is a collaboration between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

We are providing additional preliminary information at this time to allow the research community to continue to mobilize and respond to an expedited process given the situation.

Please note that during the application period, the focus of the call is likely to be further refined based on international needs, discussions with expert groups, including the upcoming WHO meeting ‘2019 novel Coronavirus Global research and innovation forum: towards a research roadmap’, and emerging priorities. Alignment of proposals to identified priorities will be considered as part of the assessment process.


The specific objectives of the Canadian 2019-nCoV rapid research funding opportunity are to:

  • Contribute to the global response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak;
  • Enhance local, national and/or international collaborative efforts to mitigate the rapid spread of 2019-nCoV and its potential negative consequences;
  • Strengthen the understanding of the impact of 2019-nCoV on individuals and communities; and
  • Provide evidence to inform clinical and public health response, and/or decision-making and planning at national and international levels.

Proposed topic areas

The Government of Canada will provide funding for applications determined to be relevant to one of the two research areas below:

  • Medical countermeasures research (address minimum of one):
    • Pathogenicity, transmission, and zoonotic source of the 2019-nCoV;
    • Development and evaluation of diagnostic tools for early case detection and surveillance;
    • Development and evaluation of candidate vaccines;
    • Development and evaluation of candidate therapeutics;
    • Clinical characterization and management; or
    • Clinical trials design and ethical considerations.
  • Social and policy countermeasures research in health (address minimum of one):
    • Cultural dimensions of the epidemic such as, examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease;
    • Studying the public health response;
    • Developing strategies to combat misinformation, stigma, and fear;
    • Studying logistical (e.g., infrastructure, transport, evacuation) and economic impacts;
    • Studying international relations, global coordination, response systems and crisis management; or
    • Understanding the social dynamics of transmission and vulnerability.

Funds available

As the Government of Canada response to 2019-nCoV is evolving rapidly, the total amount of funding available and further details will be included in the full request for applications.

    • For the medical countermeasures, the maximum amount per grant is $1,000,000 over two years.
    • For the social and policy countermeasures research, the maximum amount per grant is $500,000 over two years.

Preliminary application details

  • Alignment of proposals to identified priorities will be considered as part of the assessment process.
  • The Research Proposal will be a maximum of 5 pages for English applications and 6 pages for French applications and must address the following evaluation criteria:
    1. Quality of project:
      1. Extent to which the application responds to the objectives;
      2. Appropriateness of the proposed approach; and
      3. Appropriateness of the budget and justification for amount requested.
    2. Quality of Applicants:
      1. Track record of team members in fields related to proposed research;
      2. Ability of the project team to carry out the proposed research; and
      3. Ability of team to quickly mobilize necessary resources.
    3. Impact of the Research:
      1. Alignment to research areas;
      2. Potential to contribute to the global response to 2019-nCoV. 
  • CVs will be required for the Nominated Principal Applicant and Principal Applicants.
  • CVs will be encouraged for Co-Applicants and Knowledge Users.
  • The CV required for this competition will be the CIHR Biosketch CV (completed through the Canadian Common CV) or the Applicant Profile CV (a 3-page CV to be completed in Word). The Applicant Profile CV template will be available shortly. Applicants can utilize either CV type.
  • A one page summary will be required that addresses how the research proposed is aligned with the objectives of this call and one of the research areas.

Expected key dates

Launch of the full request for applications Week of February 10, 2020
Application deadlineWeek of February 17, 2020
Peer review beginsWeek of February 17, 2020
Anticipated notice of decisionFebruary 28, 2020
Funding start dateFebruary 1, 2020
Please also note that:

Data produced as a result of this funding must be shared in line with the Joint statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak.

While not an overall requirement of the call, the IDRC will only fund collaborations with researchers from lower and middle-income countries.

Given the urgency of this funding competition, recruitment for peer reviewers will begin immediately. If you are interested and available to volunteer as a peer reviewer, please reach out to CIHR immediately at We thank applicants and peer reviewers in advance for their flexibility and understanding with respect to the need for this expedited process.

Date modified: