CIHR recently announced more changes to their open grant programs:
CIHR stated: "To ensure that ECIs are not disadvantaged by this new restriction, CIHR will continue its policy of equalizing the success rates of ECIs in the Project Grant program (i.e., the success rate of ECIs will be equal to the proportion of ECIs who applied). This equalization should ensure that a comparable number of ECIs still receive funding."
This equalization policy was already in place in the Project Grants program and will simply be continued within that program. Cutting ECIs out of the other open program represents a potential net loss of funding to ECIs.
To ensure equity for ECIs going forward, we estimate that there should be approximately 50 additional funded ECI grants in the Project grants competition this year. We expect that CIHR’s commitment to intervene if necessary will include ensuring that this increased share in Project Grants is reflected. Otherwise, this new policy will increase damage to young investigators by further reducing overall funds available to ECIs.
We also continue to strongly recommend equalization for mid-career investigators (MCIs). The group of 50–60 scientists that met last summer on July 13, 2016 recognized the importance of supporting both ECIs and MCIs. Failure to move forward on this disappointed our national co-chairs who served on the Peer Review Working Group. Mid-career is a stage of enormous innovation and productivity. Let’s make use of that potential to improve the health of Canadians and the quality and sustainability of the Canadian health systems.
 ECIs previously received 5% (Foundation 1) to 13% (Foundation 2) of total funds allocated to Foundation. Taking the average of these two competitions (9%) and the new allocation to Foundation ($125M), this new policy is removing around $11M from ECIs. Note that we also look forward to hearing CIHR’s proposed plans for an off-ramp for those ECIs and others holding Foundation grants, given that the program is being scaled down considerably. ECIs who received a Foundation grant in the 2014-2015 competition are now in budget year 3 of their 5-year grants. They need a way to move forward.
 Based on mean grant size in the last Project grant competition (about $670K), $125M represents approximately 185 Project grants. ECIs submitted 22.7% of applications in the last Project grant competition and ECI grants tend to be smaller. Therefore, if this $125M were awarded as Project grants under the equalization policy, the ECI share would be in the neighbourhood of 50 additional grants. In the context of the new Foundation/Project split, equalization within the Project grant competition may result in that many additional ECI grants. If it fails to do so, we expect to see CIHR intervene immediately.
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