Results of the September 2011 Operating Grants Competition

(2012-01-27) On behalf of CIHR, I am pleased to announce the results of the fall 2011 Open Operating Grants competition, in which CIHR approved the investment of $240.6 million over eight years. As with previous competitions, we met our ongoing commitment to the research community to fund at least 400 grants from the core competition budget and to maintain or increase the average value of these grants. In addition, (up to) 105 full-term and bridge grants could be funded through Priority Announcements and other sources for a maximum total of 506 grants approved from the Operating Grant 2011-2012 (September) competition. The average (mean) annual core competition grant size was $600,026 (median grant size of $594,505) with an average duration of 4.11 years.

As with the archived – Results of the March 2010 Open Operating Grants Competition, the September 2011 competition marked the third time that the Open Operating Grants competition dedicated a part of the Open Operating Grants budget to a specific funding envelope - worth approximately $12.5 million - for large grants, including large RCTs. Large grants were defined as those within the top 1.7% of the average annual grant budgets recommended within the competition; these were ranked together and funded from the top down within the available funding envelope. Seven large grants with an average total grant size of $2.02 M were funded in this competition. Other facts and frequently asked questions relating to the Open Operating Grant Program are available on the CIHR website, in the document archived – CIHR Open Operating Grant Program Competitions – Frequently Asked Questions.

The results of this funding competition represent positive news for the research community and for all Canadians – the people who will ultimately benefit from the results of the research we fund.

A growing concern of our peer reviewers has been the increase in number of applications – especially in those that are essentially resubmissions of unsuccessful applications. In response, last spring we asked researchers to submit only their most competitive applications. Conversely, we discouraged researchers from immediately resubmitting unsuccessful applications to the next competition with no change or reflection. As well, we suggested that after an application has been unsuccessful two or three times that it not be resubmitted. We believe this contributed for the first time in several years to the number of applications we received staying stable at 2294 versus 2298 in the spring of 2011.

We continue to encourage these voluntary measures in the hope that the research community and the institutions that CIHR supports will work with us to manage the volume of work required by your peers to review and rank applications.

As announced on December 2, 2011 in the Update from CIHR's Science Council Regarding Proposed Reforms of Open Programs and Peer Review, in early 2012 CIHR will release a Design Discussion Document to provide an overview of the design elements that are being considered in CIHR's new Open Suite of Programs and peer review system and to solicit the research community's feedback on the proposed changes. You will have the opportunity to review the proposed changes and share your perspectives and comments by email, through an online discussion forum or during institution-led discussions. Your feedback is extremely important and will be considered, analyzed and used to inform design and implementation decisions. We hope that you will participate in this important discussion. Details will be announced when the design discussion document is released.

I wish to congratulate the recipients of September 2011 Open Operating Grants and wish them success in all their research endeavours.

Jane E. Aubin, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer and Vice-President, Research
Canadian Institutes of Health Research