Coronavirus: Canada’s rapid research response

March 25, 2020

On behalf of all partners — the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Genome Canada , the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canada Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) — we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Canada’s research community for mobilizing so quickly in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

IDRC/CRDI

Dear colleagues, 

Thanks to the incredible response from the community, in less than one month we were able to work with our international colleagues to assess the situation in China and around the world, develop a research response focused on the urgent areas of need, launch the funding opportunity, adjudicate the applications, and award funding to the successful applicants. 

When fast-breaking challenges strike, every moment counts, and it is at times like these that we see the altruistic spirit of our Canadian researchers. We have often witnessed the community’s passion for science and dedication in addressing such global and national crises, and those qualities were once again on full display during this public health emergency. 

We would like to thank the 1,195 applicants who submitted their research ideas within a nine-day window; the diversity of research ideas and quality of the science was impressive. We would also like to thank the 150 individuals who considered our request and volunteered to put their lives and work on hold in order to serve as peer reviewers. This group of individuals reviewed 227 applications, completing 681 high quality reviews within five days. The response we received from our call for reviewers was truly remarkable, and we are deeply appreciative of all who volunteered to serve in this capacity. 

We would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the close collaboration between Canada’s federal agencies in supporting a rapid launch of this funding opportunity. By working together, we were able to bolster Canada’s response to the outbreak and provide approximately $26.7 million to fund 47 research projects while delivering the competition in approximately three weeks. This collaborative effort was yet another example of the strong relationships amongst Canada’s federal agencies, and in our shared belief that we can strengthen our research funding impacts when working together. 

Science has the power to solve societal challenges. There is no question that Canada’s research community will make significant contributions to the global effort on COVID-19, and it is ready to respond quickly to future emergencies. 

Sincerely, 

Tammy Clifford, Vice-President, Research Programs, CIHR 

Adrian Mota, Associate Vice-President, Research Programs, CIHR 

Dominique Bérubé, Chair of NFRF Management Committee and Vice-President Research, SSHRC 

Dominique Charron, Vice-President, Programs and Partnerships, IDRC 

Danika Goosney, Vice-President, Research Grants and Scholarships Directorate, NSERC 

Cindy Bell, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Development, Genome Canada