The New Open Suite of Programs and Peer Review Process - Foundation Scheme

Overview and Objectives

The Foundation Scheme is designed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to contribute to a sustainable foundation of health research leaders, by providing long-term support of innovative, high-impact programs of research. Programs of research are expected to include integrated, thematically-linked research, knowledge translation and mentoring/training components. The Foundation Scheme includes a separate stream for new/early career investigators with excellent training and early-career success, and will provide them with an opportunity to build promising programs of research. The Foundation Scheme is expected to:

  • Support a broad base of researcher leaders across career stages, areas, and disciplines relevant to health;
  • Develop and maintain Canadian capacity in research and other health-related fields;
  • Provide research leaders with the flexibility to pursue new, innovative lines of inquiry;
  • Contribute to the creation and use of health-related knowledge through a wide range of research and/or knowledge translation activities, including any relevant collaboration.

The Foundation Scheme is supported by a three-stage competition and review process. Stage 1 focuses on the caliber of the applicant(s) and Stage 2 focuses on the quality of the proposed program of research. Stage 3 involves the integration of the results of the Stage 2 reviews.

Grant Value and Duration

Foundation grant values will be commensurate with the requirements of the research proposed, and will vary depending on the research field, research approach, and scope of program activities. There is currently no cap on Foundation Scheme grants. CIHR anticipates the majority of Foundation grants will range from approximately $50,000 to $1.5 million per year. Established investigators will be awarded 7-year grants, and new/early career investigators will be awarded 5-year grants. It is expected that an applicant's CIHR funding history will be an important factor in determining levels of funding.

Based on the proportion of CIHR's Open funding grants budget allocated to this Scheme (45%), CIHR will support an annual intake of approximately 114 Foundation grants of varying sizes at steady state, once the phase-in and ramp-up period is over.


Foundation grants are about supporting research leaders from all career stages to build and conduct programs of health research across CIHR's mandate. Eligible applicants will include new and established independent researchers with a demonstrable track record of excellence and impact in their field of study. These researchers must be affiliated with an eligible institution.

Single applications from multiple Program Leaders will be eligible in the Foundation Scheme; they will need to convincingly demonstrate synergy and a history of co-managing programs of research.

Collaborations and partnerships are encouraged within the Foundation Scheme, where appropriate, and may change over time as the program evolves.

Read more about the Foundation Scheme "live pilots"

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