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Discovery Frontiers Calls for Proposals: Exploring Big Data

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is pleased to launch calls for proposals for two unique funding opportunities under the Discovery Frontiers Program. Our research community is encouraged to consider applying for innovative funding opportunities that will see new groups of researchers from a variety of disciplines tackle major research challenges related to mining large volumes of data.

The umbrella program for these new calls is Discovery Frontiers, a program that features a limited number of large international activities, opportunities or projects that are of high priority in the context of advanced research in Canada. They are led by world-class researchers and include teams that generate substantial impact, for the benefit of Canadians.

What follows is additional information on each call, highlighting the need for expertise to gain further insight into challenges associated with complex sets of digital data.

Advancing Big Data in Genomics Research

Massive amounts of data are being generated by genomics research across all life science sectors.†The lack of efficient tools and methodologies available to effectively mine, rapidly access and efficiently analyse vast quantities of genomic information and integrate it with other data sets is a major challenge for the research community.†

To help position Canada as a leader in this global research challenge, NSERC, Genome Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) have established an unprecedented partnership that will see a variety of disciplines come together to tackle high volumes of data. The insight gleaned from these partnerships will help address some of Canadaís most pressing challenges. This call also aims to tap into the expertise of NSERCís funded researchers in fields such as mathematics, statistics and computer science to support the development of tools and methodologies to integrate currently available complex data sets.

NSERC, Genome Canada, CIHR and CFI plan to award one Discovery Frontier grant through this call, for a total funding level of $1.5 million per year for four years for the direct research costs, plus an additional $1 million for costs related to infrastructure with an added 30% towards eligible operating and maintenance costs of the infrastructure, if required.

NSERC anticipates that the new knowledge, tools and infrastructure produced from this research will facilitate breakthrough discoveries and innovation in science, engineering, medicine, and other disciplines, pushing Canada to the forefront of big data research. 

The deadline for letters of intent is May 1, 2013. For more details and instructions on how to apply, please refer to the program description.

Digging into Data Challenge

NSERC, along with nine other international organizations, have jointly announced their participation in round three of the This link will take you to another Web site Digging into Data Challenge, a grant competition designed to foster computationally intensive research in the humanities and social sciences. The call also aims to promote interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers in the humanities, social sciences, computer sciences, library, archive, information sciences, mathematical and statistical sciences, engineering and other fields, around questions of text and data analysis. NSERC expects to award three to five projects through this initiative.

Final applications will be due May 15, 2013.† Further information about the competition and the application process can be found at This link will take you to another Web site Digging into Data Challenge Website.†††††

The Digging into Data Challenge is administered by the US National Endowment for the Humanities.