|Value||Up to $1.5 million per year for four years + Up to $1 million for infrastructure|
|Application Deadline||May 1, 2013 – Letter of Intent
June 14, 2013 – Invitation to Apply
November 15, 2013 – Application, if invited to apply
|Anticipated Number of Invitations to Apply||5-8|
|Anticipated Notice of Award||February 2014|
|Anticipated Start Date||February 2014|
|How to Apply||See below|
Form 100 – Personal Data Form
Discovery Frontiers (DF) grants support a limited number of large international activities, opportunities or projects that are of high priority in the context of advanced research in Canada. These will be led by teams of world-class Canadian researchers and will generate substantial benefits for Canada.
This initiative aims to bring together groups of researchers in new ways to address a major research challenge. The teams will incorporate new and emerging ideas and will combine their complementary expertise to conduct transformative, paradigm-changing research.
Massive amounts of data are being generated by genomics1 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 address this global research challenge, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Genome Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will partner on this 2013 DF call for proposals, which will focus on advancing big data science in genomics research. This initiative will support the development of tools and methodologies to integrate currently available complex data sets in the fields of ‘omics sciences with each other, as well as with phenotypic data and data from other related fields of biological sciences. This DF call for proposals will build on past and ongoing investments in this area, the most recent being the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Request for Applications launched in June 2012 by Genome Canada and CIHR.
The objective of this 2013 DF call is to support the establishment of a major initiative with strong international linkages. The initiative will develop tools and methodologies for integrating various types of ‘omics data (e.g., genomics, proteomics, metabolomics) with: 1) each other; 2) phenotypic data collected from different organisms of study; or 3) data sets originating from diverse scientific disciplines/fields, including but not limited to imaging, ontology/semantics, biophysics, environmental science and evolution.
As appropriate for the proposed research, this initiative will bring together experts from a wide range of disciplines, including computer science, engineering, mathematics, machine learning, statistics, genomics and the relevant scientific disciplines being studied.
Together, they will focus on exploring and developing diverse computational and mathematical approaches and techniques, including, but not limited to, creating new algorithms, information systems, Web technologies, artificial intelligence, software engineering, data mining, image processing, modeling and simulation. Clear linkages to the international community must be demonstrated through, for example, the participation of international scientists in the initiative, in international collaborations or in relevant international initiatives.
Approaches used will emphasize bold initiatives and interdisciplinary thinking, with potential for major breakthroughs and impact across a range of scientific disciplines.
It is expected that the end product of this DF grant will further strengthen Canada’s leadership role and capacity in the area of genomics research and produce valuable knowledge that will be disseminated in the appropriate fashion to maximize its impact. This initiative will provide a training opportunity for highly qualified personnel in a focused, multidisciplinary national and international environment. Most importantly, this initiative is intended to build synergies with, but not duplicate, existing large-scale genomic research funding initiatives. The outcome and impacts of DF grants should be transformative, not merely incremental.
All applications must describe, with supporting evidence, the deliverable(s) that will be realized by the end of the project and include a plan that describes how the deliverables from the research will be transferred, disseminated, used, and/or applied to realize the benefits to the research community. Although the open source/open access model currently informs the development of methodologies within the area of biological science research data analysis, applicants may articulate alternative options for community availability and downstream development as long as the dissemination plan ensures maximum community uptake. Preference will be given to applications with a high potential for community impact and/or uptake regardless of the type of dissemination plan proposed.
Projects must have a strategy for knowledge and technology transfer to all stakeholders and the general public, as appropriate, that conforms to NSERC’s Policy on Intellectual Property (IP). The details of this strategy do not need to be outlined in the application documents, but may be requested at the time of award.
NSERC, Genome Canada, CIHR and the CFI plan to award one DF grant through this call, at 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, if required. Applicants invited to submit a full application will be eligible to receive a development grant (up to $25,000 per approved LOI), up to a maximum of $200,000 for the competition. The contribution from each partner is as follows:
Funds from each agency will be used for eligible expenses as defined in the relevant guidelines. For NSERC and CIHR, refer to the Use of Grant Funds section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide. For Genome Canada, refer to the Genome Canada Guidelines for Funding Research Projects. For CFI, refer to the CFI Policy and Program Guide.
The following are ineligible costs:
High-Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure
Although funding for high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure may be requested from the CFI, the CFI requires that, if possible, the HPC infrastructure be housed and managed by Compute Canada. Consultation with Compute Canada is therefore required prior to application. A determination of whether Compute Canada services can or cannot be used for the proposed initiative will be required at the time of full application. This determination can take the form of a formal letter of support from Compute Canada.
Although this determination is not required at the Letter of Intent stage, applicants considering a request for HPC infrastructure are strongly encouraged to contact and begin discussions with Compute Canada as early as possible.
For the purposes of these guidelines, high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure encompasses any computing system with capabilities larger or more powerful than typically available in a standard desktop system. Such HPC infrastructure normally includes systems or resources such as the following:
Typically, such systems cost more than $50,000.
In each case, the term HPC encompasses the software and environment needed for a given discipline to effectively utilize these types of infrastructure and encompasses needs such as high levels of data security and integrity as may be required by specific disciplines or researchers.
For your application to be eligible, the applicant and co-applicants must meet NSERC, Genome Canada and CIHR eligibility criteria and be at an institution eligible to receive NSERC, Genome Canada, and CIHR funds. Applicants applying for infrastructure funding must be affiliated with an institution that is eligible to receive CFI funds. Applicants are reminded that the CFI provides research infrastructure funds to institutions, not individual researchers or teams of researchers. Applicants applying for infrastructure funding must therefore contact the CFI liaison officer at their institution prior to drafting Letters of Intent.
In addition to meeting the funders’ general eligibility criteria, proposals must demonstrate that the project responds to the objectives of the Discovery Frontiers initiative.
NSERC will work with Genome Canada, CIHR and CFI throughout the competition process. Applicants are required to apply for funding through NSERC. The application process has two steps: Letter of Intent (LOI) and Full Application.
Applicants may also request up to $1 million in infrastructure funding from the CFI. Note that a request for infrastructure support from the CFI is not a requirement for the application to NSERC, but that infrastructure funding will not be provided separately from the Discovery Frontiers program application.
Applicants begin by submitting a Letter of Intent. The Letter of Intent must include a cover page (one page), a research proposal (maximum five pages) and biographical information on the team (maximum two pages). All documents should follow the NSERC presentation standards.
The cover page must include:
The research proposal should include:
The biographical information should contain short biographies of the applicant and co-applicants and their areas of expertise.
The Letter of Intent should be saved as a single PDF document, and uploaded to NSERC’s secure portal before the deadline.
Note that details concerning proposals that are successful at the LOI stage will be published on NSERC’s Web site.
A multidisciplinary international committee will review the Letters of Intent. The review process at the LOI stage is intended to select those proposals that best fit the program objectives and best address the LOI review criteria with an emphasis on the merit of the proposal. The review criteria are as follows:
Applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal will be given further instructions on submission details at the time of invitation.
Full proposals will be reviewed through a rigorous independent peer review process, undertaken by a multidisciplinary international committee, to assess their eligibility, research merit and potential for benefits to the research community as well as to ensure that sound management and financial practices are implemented. Excellence in terms of the review criteria at the very highest of international standards must be demonstrated for funding to be awarded to the most meritorious proposal.
The applications will be reviewed using the following criteria. Please note that the descriptive phrases that follow the criteria below are not all-inclusive.
For proposals that contain infrastructure requests from the CFI, the following criteria will also be considered:
Regular reporting will be required for this award. A scientific review committee will assess scientific progress annually. The review will provide information regarding the progress of the project according to the proposed timelines. The scientific review committee can also provide advice to the project team if it feels that changes to project milestones or direction are necessary. NSERC, Genome Canada and CIHR will use the scientific review committee’s report to determine whether funding for the project will be continued, reduced or terminated.
Financial reports will also be reviewed annually by all funding partners.
Specific details on the format and schedule and other required information will be available at the time of award.
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1 The term genomics is defined here as the comprehensive study, using high throughput technologies, of the genetic information of a cell or organism, including the function of specific genes, their interactions with each other and the activation and suppression of genes. For purposes of describing Genome Canada’s mandate, it also includes related disciplines, such as bioinformatics, epigenomics, metabolomics, metagenomics, nutrigenomics, pharmacogenomics, proteomics and transcriptomics.