Summary of February 2021 CIHR “Ask Me Anything” Webinars

CIHR held four “Ask Me Anything” webinars related to the Spring 2021 Project Grant competition on February 3, 4, 5 and 16. Adrian Mota, Associate Vice-President of Research Programs, hosted these webinars and members of the health research community were welcome to attend.  The fourth session was added on February 16, 2021, to accommodate peer reviewers who were engaged in Project Grant peer review for the 3 initially selected days.

The following summary provides key information shared during the discussion and updates that have become available since the webinar dates.

If you have additional questions or need more information, please get in touch with the CIHR Contact Centre.

Area of interest Discussion topics Information available
Information for applicants
  • Timeline
  • Changes:
    1. Summary of Progress
    2. Applicant Profile CV
    3. Removal of Weighted Score
    4. Sex and Gender Based Analysis
  • Entry of Foundation Grant Holders
  • Spring 2021 Project Grant Budget
  • Decision Making Process for Spring 2021 Project Grant Competition
  • Upcoming Engagement Sessions


The competition deadlines for the Spring 2021 Project Grant Competition:

  • Registration deadline: March 4, 2021
  • Application deadline: April 1, 2021
  • Peer review meetings: June 1-30, 2021
  • Anticipated notice of recommendation: July 8, 2021
  • Anticipated Notice of Decision: July 22, 2021
  • Funding start date: October 1, 2021

CIHR is on track to resume the normal Fall schedule for the Fall 2021 Project Grant competition.


CIHR released information on February 2 announcing changes for the Spring 2021 Project Grant competition. The Spring 2021 Project Grant competition will see the return of the Summary of Progress with a modified scope from its previous use in OOGP. The Summary of Progress is mandatory for all Nominated Principal Applicants and can be a maximum of two pages.

A new CV, the Applicant Profile CV, is available for knowledge users, Indigenous and international applicants. These applicants now have the option of using the new Applicant Profile CV or the CIHR Biosketch CV, using the Canadian Common CV (CCV) interface. The Applicant Profile CV is based on the NIH Biosketch and has been refined with input from various stakeholders, including Indigenous community members and researchers. Academic applicants must continue to use their CIHR Biosketch CV. Non-academic individuals, including University staff not in the role of an independent researcher, would use the Applicant Profile CV.

The weighted scores will be replaced by a single score. Reviewers will now provide one score that reflects all three evaluation criteria: (1) significance and impact of the research, (2) approaches and methods (including SGBA as noted below), and (3) expertise, experience, and resources.

Entry of Foundation Grant Holders

This is the first competition where non-Early Career Researchers (ECR) Foundation grant-holders will be eligible to apply to the Project grant program. One-hundred and thirty Foundation grant-holders from the 2014 cohort are eligible to apply to the Spring 2021 Project competition.

Spring 2021 Project Grant Budget

CIHR will be investing the funding previously allocated for the Foundation grant program as it becomes available, directly into the Project grant program. Starting with the Spring 2021 Project Grant competition, approximately $50M will be added to each twice-yearly Project grant competition. The total budgets for Project grant competitions will therefore increase from $275M to approximately $325M per competition.

The process for funding applications submitted to the Project competition involves the following steps: The final ratings (0-4.9) for each application are converted into a percent rank score that enables comparison (read more about application percent rank by committee), and then applications are funded across committees in order of percent rank until insufficient funds remain to fund the highest ranked application(s) remaining. A detailed overview of how decisions are made for the Project Grant program can be found on CIHR’s website.

There are a number of factors that influence competition success rates, including total budget available, grant size, and application pressure (i.e. number of applications under review). Given this variability, CIHR does not set target success rates for any competition—and avoids making projections until the final data are available.

Upcoming Engagement Sessions

CIHR will host applicant webinars for the Spring 2021 Project Grant competition on February 23 and March 10

Application requirements
  • Summary of Progress Report
  • Internal Peer-Review
  • Canadian Common CV (CCV)

Summary of Progress Report

The Summary of Progress Report supports an applicant’s research proposal by allowing them to describe how the application fits into their overarching research program.

The Summary of Progress should:

  • Contextualize any results from your research activities that support the current application;
  • Outline the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your research, in terms of feasibility;
  • If applicable, contextualize your Foundation grant.
  • Contextualize the application and proposed budget in relation to overall funding held currently or previously.

Internal Peer-Review

As a best practice, it is recommended that applicants seek the help of colleagues or others with similar expertise to look over an application before it is submitted.

Canadian Common CV (CCV)

Submission of a CCV is dependent on the role held by individuals on a grant. Independent Researchers (Nominated Principal Applicant, Principal Applicants and Co-Applicants) are required to submit a CCV. A CCV is not required for Collaborators and will not be considered for review of the application.


A CIHR PIN is required for the Nominated Principal Applicant, Principal Applicants and Co-Applicants. It is important to provide a validated PIN for all Collaborators if available. While it is not mandatory for Collaborators, it is encouraged.

For more information, please consult the Project Grant application instructions.

  • Modular Budgets
  • Financial detail in relation to the Summary of Progress
  • COVID-19 Funding

Modular Budgets

CIHR is exploring a shift to modular-style budgets for the Fall 2021 Project Grant Competition. The concept of modular budgets is that funds are allocated in standardized envelopes.

Financial detail in relation to the Summary of Progress

It is important to use the Summary of Progress to help highlight your application in the context of the budget requested (answering the questions, why are the requested funds needed, how are they distinct from the funds you currently hold, and how will they advance your research). Your Summary of Progress should not be a detailed accounting, but rather, a narrative overview, which is supported by the data in the CCV. Contextualizing funding overlap is key, as often individuals have funding from other sources, and it is important to be clear regarding how all funding held has affected the way your research is progressing.

COVID-19 Funding

CIHR’s Health Research Rapid Response funding for COVID-19 research was not taken from the Project Grant funding envelope. It was a targeted component of the Government of Canada’s response to this crisis.

  • Budget
  • Nominated Principle Applicant
  • Self-identification Data
  • Applications Submitted in French
  • Equalization Across the Peer Review Panels
  • Online Discussion on Systemic Racism in Canada’s Health Research Funding System


A portion of the competition budget is reserved to ensure the proportion of grants funded is at least equal to the proportion of applications received from ECRs, female Nominated Principal Investigators and applications submitted in French. Any unused funding is re-invested in the competition to fund additional Project Grants.

Nominated Principle Applicant

Equalization interventions, if applicable, are applied based on the Nominated Principle Applicant (NPA). Equalization variables are considered equally and distinctively, meaning if an application is received in French from a female ECR, all 3 variables would be taken into consideration. Equalization occurs at the competition level; it does not occur across pillars or by committee.

Self-identification Data

Self-identification data is collected on the following dimensions: gender, Indigenous identity, visible minority identity, and persons with disability. The consent for this data states that it cannot be used for the purpose of equalization. It is analyzed at an aggregate level and is used for purposes of program design.

French Language Applications

The number of applications submitted in French has decreased and their success rate is lower than the competition overall.

Equalization Across the Peer Review Committee

CIHR has increased efforts to monitor the diversity on peer review committees The number of bilingual individuals on peer review panels is growing. 

From the equalization perspective, CIHR will not intervene at the committee level for this competition and will continue to monitor this closely, modifying the approach in the future if necessary.

Online Discussion on Systemic Racism in Canada’s Health Research Funding System

CIHR launched an online discussion on the topic of systemic racism in Canada’s health research funding system on February 4, 2021. This online discussion will be open until April 9, 2021.  The purpose of the online discussion is to identify specific measures that CIHR can implement to address barriers faced by racialized and Indigenous communities.

Peer Review
  • Commercialization
  • SGBA Evaluations
  • Remote peer review


For commercialization projects, it is important to look at the mandate of the committee and structure proposals accordingly.

SGBA Evaluations

Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, her team at the Institutes of Gender and Health, and our Science Policy group have been focusing on the variability of SGBA evaluations. An analysis is underway to better understand impacts of SGBA evaluations.

Remote Peer Review

While remote peer review remains in place, the funds normally allocated for face-to-face review meetings will not be converted into funding for grants. CIHR has gained much knowledge from remote review. From an EDI perspective, remote review has created more opportunities for those who have not been able to participate in person, or for whom travel to Ottawa was a barrier. It has also been shown to increase the diversity on committees. While in-person peer review remains CIHR's standard, it is not a viable option at this time given the current travel restrictions, short timelines and physical distancing measures in place.

Early Career Researchers (ECR)
  • Support for ECR’s

Support for ECR’s

CIHR continues to monitor the impacts of the pandemic on researchers. It is possible that the COVID extension of 12 months for ECRs will be extended; however, we recognize that other segments of the community have also been impacted. Discussions continue.

A proportion of the Project Grant budget is reserved for ECRs (from additional funds that were allocated to CIHR in Budget 2016). CIHR analyzes the proportion of ECRs receiving grants to ensure it is at least equal to the proportion of applications received by ECRs in any given Project Grant competition.

You can contextualize your Foundation grant in the Summary of Progress (i.e., this is where you can include the content that would have gone into the half-page statement that you were formerly able to add to your Project application).

Return of Foundation Grant Holders
  • Re-entry schedule for returning Foundation Grant Holders

Re-entry schedule for returning Foundation Grant Holders

CIHR developed a re-entry schedule for Foundation Grant holders to be permitted to apply to the Project Grant program.

For more information, please consult CIHR’s website.

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