Update on the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition
Message from the President

May 28, 2020

Dear colleagues,

At the outset, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of you who have assisted CIHR over the last three months as we have managed an intensive schedule of COVID-19 related funding initiatives. Thanks to the over 1,000 reviewers who volunteered to help deliver the phase II COVID-19 rapid response funding opportunity, we are on schedule to deliver the results by mid-June.

It is now time that we turn our attention to the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition. I am pleased to announce that the review of these competition applications will proceed this summer. As promised, with the exception of those funds used to provide bridge funding or extensions, we have preserved the funding envelope designated for the Spring 2020 competition. As indicated in a previous correspondence, this amounts to approximately $245M. Spring 2020 applications submitted by Nominated Principal Applicants (NPAs) who did not receive a financial extension will be reviewed, unless specifically withdrawn by the NPAs. Please note that NPAs who were offered a financial extension linked to the decision we took around the Spring 2020 competition will be contacted by CIHR to discuss options.

The Fall 2020 Project Grant competition remains on track to be delivered. However, the timelines for this competition may be adjusted slightly to ensure that those individuals who are unsuccessful in the summer 2020 Project Grant competition will have the opportunity to re-submit to the Fall 2020 competition. Details regarding the timelines for the review of the applications will be announced shortly.

CIHR would like to thank the many individuals who have contacted us to lend their assistance in the peer review process. For this to work, we must come together as a community with a singular goal: delivering the highest quality peer review. We will need your help in providing peer review for these two competitions, and indeed well into the 2021 cycle. We appreciate that many of you have repeatedly stepped up to assist us in reviewing grants, and that we will be asking you to do so again in rapid succession over three distinct Project Grant competitions in less than 12 months. Those individuals who were already scheduled to serve as chairs, scientific officers, and reviewers for the Spring 2020 competition will be contacted shortly to confirm whether or not they are available to assist with the summer peer review. Beyond this, we will be reaching out to the community in the very near future to seek volunteers who are able to serve as peer reviewers this summer for the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition or for future Project Grant competitions.

We expect that the peer review process will be delivered with videoconference panels from late June through August. While in-person peer review remains CIHR’s standard, it is not a viable option for this competition. More details will be provided as the exact dates for virtual review meetings are determined. As always, we remain mindful of the impact of the pandemic on the health research community and we will continue to provide flexible timelines as much as possible to help reviewers who are balancing family and work.

I would like to thank the CIHR Scientific Directors, staff, panel chairs, scientific officers, and reviewers who continue to step up to make this summer adjudication of the Spring 2020 competition possible.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to my colleagues across the country who have offered CIHR constructive suggestions on how to stabilize the investigator-initiated research competition at a challenging time. Together, we are demonstrating the resiliency of the Canadian research ecosystem as we strive to ensure the best health for all Canadians. 


Michael J. Strong, MD, FRCP, FCAHS, FAAN
President, CIHR

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