UBC Consultation on CIHR Reforms

The Vice President Research & innovation (VPRI) Office would like to extend sincere thanks and appreciation to the many UBC research community members who have supported various initiatives intended to provide feedback to CIHR on their reforms.

We would also like to thank the Scientists from across the country who participated in the CIHR Working Group Meeting held on July 13 in which key constructive changes to the CIHR Project grant process were proposed and developed.

Building on the results of the Working Group Meeting, UBC Scientists, on July 20, convened a townhall. The highly productive and well-attended townhall resulted in a series of short and long-term recommendations summarized below:

Short-term Recommendations
  1. Provide feedback from the townhall to the recently convened CIHR working committee on the peer review process. Key suggested reforms are:
    • Ensure Scientists are involved in the reviewer selection process to help ensure appropriate expertise in reviewers for each proposal.
    • Enable Scientists with submitted proposals to participate in the peer-review process, respecting any conflict of interest issues through appropriate sub-divisions of proposals.
    • Ensure each proposal has the same number of reviews; 4-5 reviews are needed if a virtual system is used.
    • Use a broad numerically based absolute scoring scale (e.g., 1 to 10) to avoid compression.
    • Consider having two sections per panel to enable Scientists to have a proposal under review and serve as a Reviewer while minimizing conflicts.
    • Require reviewers to state their level of expertise (similar to NSERC approach) and ensure the expertise reporting is returned to the applicants.
    • Ensure an appropriate length application (i.e., 10 pages) and an appropriate length CV to enable strong peer review.
    • Ensure instructions are clear for both applicants and reviewers on the criteria for evaluation of proposals.
  2. Recognize the additional funding cycle (2 projects and 1 Foundation) anticipated for this fiscal year and ensure CIHR is adequately funded to support the three competitions.
Long-term Recommendations
  1. Funding to CIHR needs to increase to overcome the loss of funding base due to recent inflation and to accommodate increased numbers of Scientists in the system. A 20% success rate is needed to ensure cutting edge science and innovation is undertaken that can solve the critical health problems facing society. There are at least two possibilities to achieve this goal
    • An increase in the funding to CIHR with funds earmarked to the Project grant scheme.
    • A re-evaluation by CIHR of funding programs to direct more money into operating grants for Scientists.
  2. Consider unifying the Foundation and Project schemes using a merit award system similar to NIH. The merit awards could be given to Scientists that have the highest ranked project applications and have demonstrated an ability for outstanding research.

In terms of next steps, several UBC Scientists will be forwarding the recommendations to members of the CIHR working committee.

The VPRI is continuing to work as part of the U15 VPR’s to communicate their feedback to CIHR.

We strongly encourage the UBC research community to participate in the Federal Science Review and Innovation agenda by submitting ideas and feedback to the panel or attending the upcoming roundtables. Learn More