Training Grant Guide - Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research

Table of Contents

  1. Description
  2. Objectives
  3. Eligibility Criteria
  4. Allowable Costs
  5. Funding
  6. Review Process and Evaluation Criteria
  7. General CIHR Guidelines and Conditions of Funding
  8. Monitoring, Performance Measurement and Evaluation
  9. How to Apply for Funding

1. Description

A training program supported by a Training Grant consists of a group of excellent mentors/educators, accomplished in health research, who work collaboratively to offer a research training program of defined format and content to a group of trainees, mainly at the level of graduate and postdoctoral studies, although other training components are possible The training programs are intended to improve the mentoring and training environment for health researchers in Canada, foster collaborative, team research across disciplines and integrate training on the ethical conduct of research and related ethical issues, knowledge translation and professional skills such as communication, teamwork, project management and leadership. The training programs are anticipated to be an important source of Canada's next generation of health research leaders and creative agents for change. Grant funds are primarily targeted towards supporting research trainees through stipends. In addition, funds can be used for items such as developing the program and for travel between training sites.

Note: Potential trainees will apply directly to successful CIHR Training Grants for program admission and for stipend support.

2. Objectives

The overall mandate of the Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research is to increase the capacity of the Canadian health research community to produce high-quality graduates capable of addressing major health issues and/or health research challenges.

The objectives of Training Grants are to:

  1. Support the development of training programs that improve the mentoring and training environment for health researchers.

The training programs should raise the standards for best practices in the mentoring and training of researchers. They should bring added value compared to what can be achieved by funding trainees from individual operating grants or by individual awards directly to trainees. They should be innovative, effective, and internationally competitive

  1. Support the development of collaborative, team research by bringing researchers together from different disciplines to address major health issues and/or health research challenges.

This supports the federal government's science and technology strategy, which calls for mobilizing science across all disciplines to support the government's priority areas. The training programs should provide deep knowledge and technical skills in a chosen discipline and develop an ability to work collaboratively with colleagues in other disciplines and professions.

  1. Support the development of well-rounded health researchers by integrating training on:
    1. the ethical conduct of research and related ethical issues;
    2. knowledge translation; and
    3. professional skills such as communication, teamwork, project management, leadership, grant writing and peer review.

3. Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility criteria for all CIHR research funding programs apply. The business office of the institution of an eligible Nominated Principal Applicant generally administers CIHR funds. Please refer to the Eligibility Requirements for CIHR Grants and Awards regarding the eligibility requirements for individuals and institutions.

Specific Eligibility Requirements

In addition to the standard CIHR eligibility requirements, the following special conditions apply:

  1. Training programs supported by Training Grants must involve at least three mentors (considered to be independent investigators and at least at the co-applicant level of commitment).
  2. Training programs may involve mentors in more than one institution. Such institutional collaboration is encouraged in order to facilitate collaborative training opportunities with groups that have a track record of high quality and productive research collaborations, and excellence in research training. In such cases, the institution of the Program Leader will be regarded as the host institution. Although institutional collaboration is encouraged, it is not necessary to have applicants from more than one institution.
  3. Training programs must include one or more of the following training components:
    • Introducing undergraduate and professional students to health research
    • Training leading to the awarding of a graduate research degree (i.e., Master's or PhD)
    • Providing post-doctoral research training
    • Offering additional postgraduate research training experiences of not less than 11 months to health professionals, researchers or academics at any stage in their careers (for example, faculty training/retraining). Note that these individuals must take a leave of absence from their position in order to be considered a trainee during this period.
    • Offering internship opportunities that expose graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to health research opportunities and careers in various research user environments, including industry, government, public health departments, healthcare settings and the voluntary health sector. Trainees must spend at least 50% of their time over four months at a research user site undertaking research on a problem jointly identified by the research user and their Training Grant mentors. The rest of their time is spent at their university where they further advance their research under the guidance of their Training Grant mentors.
  4. Clinical education programs are not eligible.
  5. Training programs need not be restricted to formally approved graduate programs. However, if the program will include students registered for a degree program, the applicant must provide assurance that those students will be able to complete the degree requirements of an approved graduate program.
  6. Training programs should normally provide full time research training. However, if well-justified, part-time research training is allowable.
  7. Training programs that provide trainees with international experience are encouraged. This could include trainees from other countries coming to Canada to receive training or Canadian citizens or permanent residents going to a collaborating centre outside the country to receive a portion of their training. It is, however, expected that trainees receiving stipend support from a training grant will receive most of their training at a Canadian institution. Graduate students receiving stipend support from a training grant must be registered at a Canadian institution. As for all CIHR grants, there are no restrictions on trainees with regard to nationality or country of residence provided that they meet the requirements of Citizenship and Immigration Canada while in Canada.
  8. In order to support the development of well-rounded individuals in the next generation of health researchers, training programs must integrate training on:
    • the ethical conduct of research and related ethical issues (for more details, see below);
    • knowledge translation (for more details, see below);
    • professional skills such as communication, teamwork, project management, leadership, teaching and mentoring (when ready, there will be a link to the proposed Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Key Professional Skills for New Researchers).

Ethics

The substance of ethics training will vary depending on the field in question. It should include:

  • review of applicable ethics-based laws, policies, guidelines, rules, standard operating procedures, and best practices;
  • addressing difficult or novel ethical dilemmas where the appropriate course of action is unclear, or where there may be more than one ethically defensible solution;
  • addressing ethics requirements in grant applications;
  • ethics governance including Research Ethics Board procedures if applicable; and,
  • research integrity

Knowledge Translation

CIHR defines knowledge translation (KT) as a dynamic and iterative process that includes the synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically sound application of knowledge to improve the health of Canadians, provide more effective health services and products and strengthen the healthcare system. This process takes place within a complex system of interactions between researchers and knowledge users which may vary in intensity, complexity and level of engagement depending on the nature of the research and the findings as well as the needs of the particular knowledge user.

CIHR distinguishes between end-of-grant KT and integrated-KT. End-of-grant KT focuses on the dissemination of research results once finalized, such as publishing the results in peer reviewed publications, presenting the results at conferences or to those who could apply the results, or developing innovative ways to promote the engagement of relevant stakeholders in using the results. Integrated-KT pertains to KT activities that are collaborative and involves engaging knowledge users. It represents a way of conducting research in which KT is incorporated into the entire research process to help ensure that the research results are relevant and will be applied. It begins with knowledge users helping to define and refine the research question.

Training programs will be expected to integrate KT training into their curriculum. This could consist of:

  • training focused on methods and tools to produce and use knowledge syntheses in the research and KT process;
  • training focused on introducing trainees to the research literature about KT;
  • training pertaining to end-of-grant KT such as: how to effectively present research findings at conferences and creating opportunities to engage in this activity; how to draft summaries of the research findings for different audiences; engaging in workshops with groups that will potentially use the research results such as practitioners, policy makers and the public; and organizing opportunities for trainees to interact with the media and learn about the role it plays in communicating research results to the public;
  • training related to integrated-KT, where appropriate, such as: how to build and negotiate collaborative research-related partnerships with knowledge users (e.g., decision makers, community groups, non-governmental organizations, government, industry); how to lead and manage teams comprised of researchers and knowledge users; and how to establish appropriate governance structures and planning processes to facilitate and support an integrated-KT approach to research;
  • training related to the commercialization of intellectual property that may occur as part of end-of-grant or integrated-KT processes, where appropriate; and,
  • training that includes internships in various research user environments, including government, industry, public health departments, health care settings and the voluntary health sector

The CIHR Knowledge Synthesis and Exchange Branch (KSE) intends to collaborate with the funded Training Grant programs to support the knowledge translation requirements of the Training Grant initiative. It will work with Training Grant program stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate innovative approaches to facilitating KT training across the training initiatives by, for example, creating opportunities to share best practices and developing KT learning modules to support curriculum development.

4. Allowable Costs

Applicants should review the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) financial administration guidelines Use of Grant Funds for a complete listing and description of allowable costs and activities.

The full application must provide a detailed justification of all costs.

Allowable costs under a Training Grant include:

  1. Stipends for a number of trainees may be used at the discretion of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC). Stipend levels will follow the guidelines for Grants. CIHR funds may be combined with other sources of funding to provide the greatest degree of flexibility in funding the maximum possible number of trainees.
  2. If the program involves more than a single geographical location, funds to support the travel, accommodation and meals of trainees and mentors while on travel status between locations.
  3. Funds to develop and coordinate program structure, format and content.
  4. Funds for the development and dissemination of educational materials.
  5. Advertising and trainee recruitment costs.
  6. Other costs which can be justified as necessary for meeting the objectives of this program, for example:
    1. Faculty release time, which would normally mean providing funds to the Faculty to hire additional staff to relieve a key mentor of other teaching, administrative, and/or clinical duties.
    2. Hospitality costs (non-alcoholic refreshments or meals) for networking purposes in the context of assemblies that facilitate and contribute to the achievement of the research objectives.

** The CIHR contribution towards items 2-6 must not exceed 35% of the total over the lifetime of the grant.

** Tuition is not an item that can be requested in the budget. Tuition is an eligible expense for the use of the trainee stipend, but not as an additional request in the budget.

** Research related items are not eligible (e.g., research allowances, publication costs). These are the responsibility of mentors through their research grants.

5. Funding

Funding will be provided for a period of up to six years, subject to a satisfactory mid-term review during the third year.

CIHR's contribution to a single grant will not exceed $325,000 per annum, including equipment. Renewal grants (those that have held continuous full funding without interruption up to the start date of the grants) are eligible for the maximum of $325,000 in the first full year. New grants are limited to a maximum of $165,000 in the first full year to reflect a ramp up of activities. In the second and later years, the maximum will also be $325,000.

However, it is possible that partners may contribute additional funds.

6. Review Process and Evaluation Criteria

A type of merit review will be utilized where experts in education and training may be included as members of the review committees in addition to experts in different research areas. Merit review committees organized by CIHR will evaluate the letters of intent and full applications. The committees may be drawn from CIHR's pre-existing committees or may be created specifically for this Funding Opportunity. Committee members are selected based on suggestions from many sources including the institute(s) / portfolio(s) and partner(s), following CIHR's Policy on Confidentiality, Conflict of Interest and Privacy Issues in Peer and Relevance Review (CCIP). For information on CIHR's peer review process in general, see Peer Review.

The merit review will be based in large part on the process used for peer review as described in the CIHR Peer Review Process: Policies and Responsibilities of Grants Committee Members, except that applications will be evaluated using the evaluation criteria as described below.

Criteria for Merit Review

Overall, it is critical to demonstrate the training program's excellence and that it brings added value, in terms of the approach to the research training, to what would have occurred in the absence of CIHR Training Grant funding. In arriving at an overall rating for a proposed program, the reviewers will take into consideration the factors listed below.

  1. Rationale/Objectives. The rationale for and objectives of the proposed training program. To what degree will the training program provide a high-quality training and mentoring environment with the potential to have a significant impact on an important health issue or health research challenge? Does the proposed training program meet the objectives of the CIHR Training Grant Program?
  2. Mentors. The research achievements, potential, and training/mentoring record of the faculty members and other instructors or consultants associated with the program. These individuals should have a stellar track record of training successful researchers and bring a mix of disciplinary expertise and perspectives consistent with the program's objectives.
  3. Curriculum, Innovation and Approaches. Plans for the development and dissemination of curriculum materials and innovative and more effective approaches to training and mentoring. These innovations should represent improvements over current practices, and may focus on the unique experiences or facilities available to the trainees in the program. The program should bring added value compared to what can be achieved by funding trainees from individual operating grants or by individual awards directly to trainees.
  4. Collaborative Team Research. How well does the program promote collaborative, team research by bringing researchers together from different disciplines, (but not necessarily the different themes of health research as defined by CIHR) to address major health issues and/or health research challenges? The training program should provide deep knowledge and technical skills in a chosen discipline and develop an ability to work collaboratively with colleagues in other disciplines and professions.
  5. Ethics, Knowledge Translation and Professional Skills. How well does the program support the development of well-rounded health researchers by integrating training on:
    1. the ethical conduct of research and related ethical issues;
    2. knowledge translation; and,
    3. professional skills such as communication, teamwork, project management, leadership, grant writing and peer review.
  6. Recruitment. Plans for recruitment of the highest quality trainees from Canada and abroad. Training Programs are intended to be internationally competitive.
  7. Tracking and Evaluation. Plans for tracking the graduates of the program, and for evaluation of the program's performance against stated objectives. The program should have a system of self-assessment that will lead to continuous improvement.
  8. Organization. Appropriateness of the implementation plan at the beginning of funding, overall administrative plan and organizational/governance structure in assuring effective allocation of program resources and participation by program members. This includes the plans for a Program Advisory Committee (PAC).
  9. Institutional Support and Long-Term Sustainability. Commitment of the institution to facilitating and furthering the plans and goals of the training program, to creating a supportive environment for collaborative team research that crosses disciplines, and to sustaining the successful elements of the training program after CIHR funding ceases. Note: This includes all types of support, not just monetary, and takes into consideration the comparative ease with which different types of applications are likely to attract support.
  10. Additional criterion for renewal proposals. Quality of outcomes of prior CIHR Training Grant

7. General CIHR Guidelines and Conditions of Funding

All conditions, as specified in General Guidelines for Grant Programs, shall apply to those funded through this initiative. Conditions cover areas such as Applicant and Institutional Responsibilities, Ethics, Official Language Policy, Access to Information and Privacy Acts, Acknowledgement of CIHR support etc. Successful recipients will be informed of any special financial conditions when they receive CIHR's Authorization for Funding Form (AFF). The principal applicant (with funding responsibilities) will be required to submit a final report to CIHR summarizing the results and describing how the grant funds were used.

In addition to CIHR standard guidelines and requirements the following special conditions shall apply:

Program Advisory Committee. Each training program is required to have a Program Advisory Committee (PAC), which is accountable for the progress of the program and its future directions. The composition of the PAC must include a variety of stakeholders relevant to the objectives of the training program (e.g., a program in bio-statistics might include an epidemiologist from a provincial Ministry of health; a program in health services research might include a senior policy-maker from a regional health authority), and a trainee representative. The PAC, or equivalent management structure, will be accountable for the progress of the program and its future directions. Once a grant is approved, CIHR, Institutes and Partners, as a group or individually, will be in communication with the PAC throughout the course of the strategic training program. This communication will be directed through the Program Leader (i.e., the Nominated Principal Applicant of the grant).

Progress Reports. Given the scope of the training program, the Program Leader is responsible for annual written communication to CIHR of the program's progress towards its key objectives, including a discussion of the progress of each funded trainee. The progress report will be assessed against the original objectives in order to maintain the intent of the initiative. Detailed guidelines for the reports will be provided by CIHR.

Mid-Term Review. Funding will be provided for a period of up to six years, subject to a satisfactory mid-term review during the third year. Detailed guidelines for the report and review will be provided by CIHR.

Recruitment Strategies: Training opportunities within Training Programs must be advertised nationally and internationally. National and international recruitment strategies for attracting high- calibre trainees will be a cornerstone of all Training Programs.

Communication Requirement: CIHR and Partners (where applicable) must be acknowledged in written communications about the training program (including recruitment and marketing efforts) and in the communication of research results produced by program trainees. All Training Grants funded under this initiative should be referred to generally as "CIHR Training Grants". Each specific training grant will have a title in the format "CIHR Training Grant in (area of research)". In cases where there is another major funding partner a shared title should be considered e.g., "CIHR/Partner Training Grant in (area of research). All trainees enrolled in these programs will be generally known as "CIHR Fellows". Each specific trainee will have a title in the format "CIHR Fellow in (name of research area)"; shared titles should be considered as appropriate. The title of each grant will have to be approved by CIHR before funds are released.

Conferences/Workshops: The program leaders of all Training Grants will be expected to participate in any conference/workshop to be organized by CIHR, in collaboration with its partners, to share experiences, ideas, and best practices across programs and to work together in achieving the objectives of the Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research. Travel expenses to attend such meetings are an eligible expense from the grant.

Transferring Grant(s) to an Eligible Canadian Institution
Applicants should review Transferring Grant(s) to an Eligible Canadian Institution section of the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC & SSHRC) Financial Administration Guide for a complete description of the documentation required. In addition, due to the interdisciplinary team nature of Training Grants, if the nominated principal applicant of a Training Grant wishes to request a transfer of the Training Grant to another institution, CIHR will require a letter from the nominated principal applicant explaining what impact the move will have on the integrity of the team and the ability of the Training Grant to meet its objectives and what measures will be put in place to ensure that these objectives can be met. This letter must be co-signed by the co-applicants of the grant signifying their approval.

8. Monitoring, Performance Measurement and Evaluation

CIHR is committed to demonstrating results to Canadians for the money invested in health research. Therefore, processes for monitoring progress and appropriate use of funds, as well as for performance measurement and program evaluation are in place. As a result, funding recipients must:

  • contribute to the monitoring, review and evaluation of CIHR's programs, policies and processes by participating in evaluation studies, surveys, workshops, audits and providing data or reports as required for the purpose of collecting information to assess progress and results;
  • encourage their associates, trainees and administration to participate in the monitoring, review and evaluation of CIHR's programs, policies and processes as required.

In addition to submitting annual progress reports, the Program Leaders may be called upon to attend workshops or other meetings to report on their progress and provide advice to CIHR and its partners.

9. How to Apply

The application process is comprised of two stages: 1) Letter of Intent (LOI), and 2) Full Application.

Applicants should refer to a current Funding Opportunity announcement for details.

Note: Potential trainees will apply directly to successful CIHR Training Grants for program admission and for stipend support. These competitive training opportunities will be advertised nationally and internationally.

Contact for Further Information:
STIHR Program Delivery Coordinator
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Research Portfolio
160 Elgin Street
Address Locator 4809A
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0W9
Telephone: 613-954-1963
Email: STIHR@cihr-irsc.gc.ca