A PDF of this statement is available here.
We are gratified to have the concerns of early-career investigators (ECIs) acknowledged as we enter CIHR’s first Project Scheme Pilot. As key stakeholders, we hope to work with CIHR to determine how to best build research capacity through policies that support sustainable research funding.
Health research is an integral part of Canada’s innovation portfolio and is essential for the continued well-being of Canadians. But this enterprise is in jeopardy as many Canadian scientists face unprecedented challenges posed by an unsustainable funding environment. ECIs and mid-career investigators (MCIs) represent the future of health research in Canada. But without realistic opportunities to obtain operating funds from CIHR, many of these research programs are doomed to fail.
While researchers of all career stages are under tremendous funding pressure, the cohort of ECIs starting independent careers during the reform/transition period have had half the normal number of opportunities to obtain their first operating grant (due to cancelled competitions) while success rates are the lowest in CIHR’s history. Our situation is worsened by just 5% of the funds available in the first Foundation pilot being awarded to ECIs. This distortion means that, even if ECIs do as well in Project as in they did in the OOGP, there will be a large drop in overall funding to this group across the Open Programs. We realize these are pilot programs, but these are not our pilot careers.