drawing of molecules

CIHR Project Grant Updates

~Tania Watts, CIHR Delegate

Important Updates to the CIHR Spring Project Grant Competition

There have been several updates to the CIHR Spring Project Grant Competition, including new formatting rules and changes to the types of materials that may be appended to applications. Please review the information below and on the CIHR Project Grant webpage carefully.

Spring Project Grant Competition

For questions concerning the Spring Project Grant Competition, please reach out to our CIHR delegate, Tania Watts.

Important Dates

  • Registration deadline: February 7, 2024
  • Internal deadline for MRA form - University of Toronto- February 28
  • Application deadline: March 6, 2024
  • Release of Notice of Recommendation: July 3, 2024
  • Release of Notice of Decision: July 17, 2024
  • Funding Start date: October 1, 2024

How to Apply

Note: You may only submit 2 applications per project competition as a Nominated Principal applicant; any additional applications will be withdrawn based on date submitted.

New! Changes to Appendices

The following appendices are no longer allowed:

  • manuscripts
  • publications
  • extra figures, tables, or consent forms

Additional details from CIHR are quoted below in italics, for reference. 

For the Spring 2024 Project Grant competition:

"CIHR will be limiting the types of materials that researchers can attach to their applications. We understand the desire to round out applications with supporting materials and additional preliminary data, but we wish to underscore that all research proposals should be written in such a way that they stand alone. That means that they should contain all the information required to support the assessment of the research plan and contain a complete description of the project."

Note: detailed rationale is provided on the CIHR website.

"Starting with the Spring 2024 Project Grant competition, the following attachments will no longer be accepted and if included, will be removed from the application:

  • Questionnaires, surveys, and consent forms
  • Supplementary tables, charts, figures, and photographs
  • Patient Information Sheets (for Randomized Controlled Trial applications)
  • Publications

Some attachments will continue to be mandatory, such as certificates of completion for sex- and gender-based analysis training modules and letters of community support from Indigenous partners as applicable.

Others will be optional, such as letters of collaboration that outline a specific service that will be provided such as access to equipment, provision of specific reagents, training in a specialized technique, statistical analysis, access to a patient population, etc., and additional CV information to account for any leaves, absences, illnesses, caregiving roles, etc."

Please consult the Project Grant application instructions for more information.

Suggestion from your CIHR delegate: If you want to show evidence of productivity, but data do not fit in the grant, you could upload your manuscript to a preprint server such as BioRXIV or MedRXIV and list it in the reference list. Although the reviewer is not required to look at the pre-print, at least they will be able to find it if they wish to look at specifics or evidence of productivity.

New! Updated Formatting Rules

Additional details from CIHR are quoted below in italics, for reference. 

"CIHR has simplified its attachment formatting requirements. The following apply to all applicant-prepared attachments (those you upload as a PDF, such as the proposal and summary of progress) and must be followed to ensure readability and fairness. Letters of collaboration are not required to conform to these formatting rules.

  • Use a 12 point, Times New Roman font in black type. Do not use condensed fonts.
  • You may use other fonts and font sizes for text in tables, charts, figures, graphs and legends only, as long as it is legible when the page is viewed at 100%.
  • Use a minimum of single line spacing. Do not use narrow line spacing.
  • Use normal/standard character spacing. Do not use condensed character spacing.
  • Insert a margin of 2 cm (0.79 inch) – minimum – around all pages.
  • Observe page limitations. Additional pages may NOT be added unless specified.
  • Use only letter size (21.59 X 27.94 cm / 8.5" X 11"), white paper/background for all attachments.
  • Attachments must be uploaded in PDF format (unprotected). It is important to confirm that the final PDF document complies with the formatting requirements."

Last competition, 14% of applications had formatting infractions of some kind. We are told that warnings were sent to those with infractions. As of spring 2024 competition, "CIHR reserves the right to immediately withdraw your application if it does not meet these requirements."

Priority Announcements

  • Don't forget to look for Priority Announcements in your area!
  • Review FAQs

Additional details from CIHR are quoted below in italics, for reference. 

“Priority Announcements (PAs) offer additional sources of funding for highly rated applications that are relevant to specific research areas. They can be in the form of grants or prizes. The PAs outline specific research areas relevant to CIHR Institutes, Initiatives and Partners, and applications that align with those areas may be selected for funding – without having to re-apply. Prizes are supplemental grant funds to support research, they are not a personal award.”

Note that these are updated each year and appear only in the full application (not at registration). It is possible to submit a grant without filling in the Priority Announcement section, as its optional, so you need to actively seek these out. For example, some institutes create $100,000 1-year bridge grants for those grants that just missed funding; these are listed in the Priority Announcement and can range from quite general to highly specific. You can submit to more than 1 Priority Announcement- you are required to fill out a relevance form for each Priority Announcement selected. These are awarded to highest scoring unfunded grants in the competition that have relevance to the particular Priority Announcement.

What to Put in the Summary of Progress

Additional details from CIHR are quoted below in italics, for reference. 

The Summary of Progress, uploaded as a 2-page PDF,

“is a narrative that will allow you to describe the reason you are requesting funding for your proposed project in the context of your broader research activities. It is not expected that applicants will provide a detailed accounting of their research history but rather, only what is relevant to the current application. It should include progress made on your research to date (including contextualizing research activities, contributions and impacts that support your current application) and any impacts on the progress of your research. Tables, figures or graphs are not permitted in the Summary of Progress. It is suggested to not duplicate the information found in your ‘Significant Contributions’ section or CV. Additionally, please note that all information necessary to adjudicate the science of your research proposal must be found in the research proposal (i.e., the Summary of Progress is not to be used as an extension to your proposal).

“When contextualizing the amount requested vis-à-vis your funding profile, you do not need to list all grants currently or previously held or duplicate what is already found in your CCV but rather include information that helps inform and convince reviewers that this funding is needed and how it fits in to the overall research program. Any pending applications under review (CIHR or other source of funding) related to the current submission should be indicated in the Summary of Progress to help reviewers understand any potential funding overlap. It will be incumbent on the applicant to illustrate clearly to reviewers why the requested funds are needed, how they are distinct from the funds currently held, and how they will advance research.”

Including Sex and Gender Considerations in your Research Proposal

Additional details from CIHR are quoted below in italics, for reference.

“In their evaluation of the application, peer reviewers assess whether or not sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) is a strength, weakness, or not applicable; this is to be reflected within their written evaluation and the overall score assigned to the application.” 

Reviewers are instructed to not only look at the specific text box on sex and gender, but to note whether sex and gender considerations, if relevant, are incorporated into the main proposal as part of the research plan.

Information Sessions

CIHR will be hosting the following webinars to support participants with the requirements of the funding opportunity “Project Grant Spring 2024” and to answer questions on how to apply. The sessions are 60 minutes long and registration is not required.

  • Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 11:00 am ET | Join (English)
  • Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 1:00 pm ET | Join (French)
  • Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 11:00 am ET | Join (French)
  • Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 1:00 pm ET | Join (English)