Information Letter on the Primary Mentor Role (REDI 2022)
Thank you for your interest in serving as the Primary Mentor to an applicant for the CIHR REDI (pronounced “ready”) Early Career Transition Award. To help with your decision in becoming the Primary Mentor, this letter provides information on this new program and the role of the Primary Mentor during the application phase and Phase 1 of the award. CIHR recognizes the value of excellent mentorship and the investment of time associated with being a Primary Mentor and is investigating ways we can acknowledge the important contributions to the training and mentoring of a REDI awardee.
As a transition award, the overarching goal of this program is to promote research independence and increase the number of post-doctoral researchers, clinicians and research associates from underrepresented groups that become research faculty members in Canadian academic, health system, and research institutions. The program uses an intersectional framework for race and gender, and the first launch is open to groups who are among the most underrepresented in science and medicine faculties in Canadian academic institutions, have the highest unemployment rates compared to non-racialized professors, and encounter systemic barriers, discrimination, and inequity within academia: racialized women and Black people. The terminology related to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is evolving and it is understood that most terms have strengths and weaknesses. Terms are defined in the funding opportunity and will be reviewed and updated for future launches.
The CIHR REDI award is supported by funding from CIHR and non-government partners. The CIHR portion of funding comes from a funding envelope that is separate from the funds reserved for Investigator-initiated Research (funded through the Project Grant competition), or for Training and Career Support (e.g., CIHR Fellowships). The funding envelope used for REDI consists of funds dedicated to “research in priority areas”; the majority of these funds are from CIHR institute budgets (often called “strategic funding”), with additional funds from CIHR corporate.
CIHR plans to relaunch this program in future years with each round of awards open to specific underrepresented groups. Future competitions will benefit from the early learnings of the 2022 funding opportunity, community consultations, and the continued accrual of self-identification data from Canadian academic, health system, and research institutions.
Program Design Overview
This award has two phases across a maximum of 6 years to increase independence and support the transition of successful applicants to independent research careers.
- The mentored Phase 1 (2–3 years) includes a $20,000/year research allowance and $70,000/year stipend. Applicants will propose a Research Project they will work on in Phase 1. This project will establish the foundation for their independent research program as faculty members in Phase 2. Applicants must work with their Primary Mentor to develop Mentorship and Career Development Plans and identify how they will distinguish their proposed research from their Primary Mentor’s program.
- The independent Phase 2 (3–4 years) includes at least $240,000/year (this includes minimum 1:1 matching of CIHR funds by the Phase 2 host institution) in research allowance and salary support, and faculty mentorship. Awardees are expected to transition to an independent research faculty position – marking the start of Phase 2 – within 2 to 3 years of the funding start date.
This award is intended to foster the development of independent research scientists who would benefit from tailored, mentored career development in Phase 1 before transitioning to Phase 2 to establish and sustain an independent research program in academia. It is not intended to extend time in the postdoctoral lab during the faculty job search or cover a research associate’s salary for 2–3 years.
Guidance on Overlap between CIHR REDI Award Application and the Primary Mentor’s Research Program
The research proposed in the REDI application should be based on the applicant’s original ideas and/or hypotheses. Research proposed for Phase 1 can be within the overall scope of the Primary Mentor’s research grants; however, the applicant should propose a scientific research question that is distinct from the Primary Mentor’s pending or active research grants, which demonstrates independence.
Role of the Primary Mentor
The Primary Mentor is the applicant’s advocate and advisor. Their role in the Application Phase includes:
- Helping the applicant prepare their application.
- This may involve collaborating with up to five other mentors to effectively support the development and execution of the Research Proposal, Mentorship and Career Development Plans that are tailored to meet the applicant’s needs, career goals and research area/pillar.
- Depending on the mentor, this may involve learning more about bias awareness, the principles of culturally responsive mentorship and intersectional EDI considerations. See the Additional Resources in the Additional Information section of funding opportunity.
- Working with the applicant to identify how their proposed research will be distinguished from your research program, such that the applicant achieves research independence and can transition to an independent research position within their proposed timeline. This includes identifying which components of the proposed research, and resources/reagents/protocols (as appropriate), the applicant can use in their independent research program after they transition to a research faculty position.
- Discussing authorship for publications that will result from the applicant’s research funded by the CIHR REDI Award (e.g., having the applicant listed as the sole or co-corresponding author on these publications.)
- Providing a Letter of Support for the applicant and a Letter from your Host Institution (see below).
Should the applicant be successful in the competition, the role of the Primary Mentor in Phase 1 of the CIHR REDI Award will include:
- Ensuring the successful applicant:
- Has dedicated research space to conduct the research proposed for Phase 1, with access to equipment, facilities, infrastructure, and other support needed.
- Can participate in training courses and conferences, as appropriate, to further their career development, build their network, and prepare them for launching their independent research career.
- Can use the data from their Phase 1 research for their future grant applications.
- Is encouraged to take advantage of peer review resources and programs through the College of Reviewers Reviewer Pathway.
- Can benefit from the tailored mentorship and career development plans in their REDI application. This includes supporting their transition to an independent research position by guiding them during their faculty job search and negotiations.
- Contributing to a joint assessment by the applicant and Primary Mentor that will be part of the Two-Year Progress Report and Transition Report. This will include the applicant’s assessment of their progress and the achievement of major milestones, and the Primary Mentor’s assessment of their contributions to the applicant’s career development, and alignment of achievements with the Mentorship and Career Development Plans.
Should you agree to be the applicant’s Primary Mentor for the CIHR REDI program, you will need to provide the applicant with a Letter of Support and a Letter from your Host Institution.
- Your Letter of Support (maximum of two  pages) should include:
- A description of your area(s) of expertise and role in the mentorship of the applicant.
- An overall assessment of the applicant, including their research performance and/or clinical training, and their potential to transition to an independent research position within the timeline proposed in their REDI application.
- Statements that you are committed to:
- Supporting the execution of the Research Proposal, Mentorship and Career Development Plans, as appropriate to your role in Phase 1.
- Recognizing the importance of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, bias awareness, anti-racism, anti-ableism, and gender equity, among other principles in increasing the effectiveness of your mentorship role.
- Aiming to apply the principles of culturally responsive mentorship and intersectional EDI considerations in your mentorship approach (see the Additional Resources in the Additional Information section of the funding opportunity).
- Contributing to a joint assessment with the applicant that will be part of the Two-Year Progress Report and Transition Report (see details, above).
- The Letter from the Host Institution (i.e., Dean or appropriate authority) should describe its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and outline examples of efforts taken to make research environments inclusive, accessible, safe, and supportive for the applicant’s research and professional development.
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