CIHR announces $27 million for COVID-19 rapid response research

Dear Colleagues,

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak brings into sharp focus how the health of Canadians and the health of people around the world are inextricably linked. Where we share risks, we must also share responsibility. It is in this spirit that CIHR led a Government of Canada rapid research response in partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and Genome Canada (GC). Together, we are investing nearly $27 million in 47 research projects on medical, social and policy countermeasures for COVID-19.

In line with our strategic priority of preparing and responding to emerging threats the Institute of Infection and Immunity along with the Institute of Population and Public Health, undertook the task of putting together the COVID-19 Funding Opportunity on behalf of CIHR and other federal partners. COVID-19 was declared as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on January 30, 2020 and in under 6 weeks, the funding results were publicly announced today. By building on existing strengths, relationships, and lessons from the past, CIHR worked with international partners – most notably the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) – to launch a globally coordinated research response that aims to meet the priority global knowledge needs of this outbreak.

Informed by the discussions at the ‘2019 Novel Coronavirus Global Research and Innovation Forum: Towards a Research Roadmap’ meeting that took place at WHO Headquarters in Geneva on February 11-12, 2020, the funding was focused on two main streams, the biomedical interventions and social interventions. The response from the Infection and Immunity community was remarkable and for that we can all be very proud. Infection and Immunity researchers from all four pillars applied in overwhelming numbers, 227 applications were reviewed in under 7 days by ~150 volunteers.

On March 6th 2020, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced the results of this COVID-19 rapid research response competition in Montreal and congratulated the successful teams. As one of the first international funders to invest in the COVID-19 research response through an open and peer-reviewed process, we are proud to enable the swift contributions of Canadian researchers to this global effort and wish everyone the best of luck for the important work that lies ahead.

We look forward to hearing about the progress of our funded researchers and hope that together we can make a difference nationally and globally, through the contribution of science and research, in evidence based decision making during this outbreak.


Charu Kaushic

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