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The Discovery Award

Fueling Innovations in Health Science: The Discovery Award – Your Launchpad to Lifesaving Research

Empower Your Research Journey

The Discovery Award is your opportunity to ignite the flame of scientific breakthroughs. With financial support up to $30,000, propel your novel ideas into the realm of transformative health research.

An Investment in You - Our Future Health Hero

We believe in you and your research. The Discovery Award is more than just a grant; it’s an investment in your potential to shape the future of health science and improve lives around the globe.

Expand Your Network

Becoming a Discovery Award recipient connects you with a diverse and influential network of fellow researchers, potential collaborators, and health science innovators. You’re not just receiving an award, you’re joining a community committed to health science advancement.

Discovery Award

Embark on your research journey with the Discovery Award: A year-long grant offering up to $30,000, designed to support groundbreaking health and biomedical projects. This award is exclusively for trailblazing new investigators from universities and research institutes across Canada who are within their first three years of academic appointment and have received a start-up package of less than $250,000. The purpose? To provide you with the initial funding you need to collect vital pilot data, increasing your competitiveness for future funding opportunities. Every year, we proudly fund at least six awards, and through our partnerships with various organizations, we also present a range of co-funded Discovery Awards. Your journey to innovation starts here.

Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date on grant deadlines and announcements. 

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the Discovery Award:

You must be a new investigator at any Canadian university or affiliated research institute and be within the first three years of the date of your first career academic appointment at the application deadline of January 24, 2024.

You must not have received more than $250,000 in start-up funding provided by your institution, excluding support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

You must not have been awarded more than $50,000 per annum in external research funding (operating grants) at the application date of January 24, 2024.

An applicant who has been awarded more than $50,000 per annum in external research funding may submit a request for up to $30,000, provided that the total sum of the operating funds received from all sources during the funding year, including any funding awarded by The Banting Research Foundation, will not exceed $80,000.

Institutional Support

A department/division head may nominate only one applicant during each annual granting cycle.

A letter of nomination from the applicant’s host department or division head is required. The letter must confirm:

● all eligibility criteria have been met;
● the dollar amounts and sources of all operating and institutional start-up funds available to the applicant;
● the candidate has been provided the space and access to   institutional infrastructure necessary to conduct the proposed research;
● that a mentorship plan is in place for the candidate as they launch their career. The mentor who will provide guidance to the applicant must be identified.

Duration of Award

The maximum duration of the grant is one year, from July 1 to June 30. A no-cost extension may be considered and must be requested in writing at least 30 days prior to the grant end date. Grants are paid quarterly within the funding year, starting July 1. Grants are paid to the finance office of the sponsoring institution. Grantees may draw on this account as needed.

Acceptable Use of Funding

Funds can be used to purchase equipment and for general operating expenses specified in the budget proposal, including salaries for technicians, postdoctoral fellows, and students. Funds cannot be used to pay the salary of the applicant, travel expenses, or overhead. Equipment purchased with grant funds is the property of the institution at which the grant is held. Any unspent balance must be returned to The
Banting Research Foundation.

Ethical and Safety Considerations

Applicants are expected to ensure their proposed research complies with both the ethical conduct for research and the safety guidelines of their home institution and Tri-Council Policy Statement. Human research procedures must comply with the Tri-Council Policy Statement, “Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.” Animal experimental procedures must comply with the guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care. Procedures for handling biological and chemical hazards must meet the CIHR “Guidelines for the Handling of Recombinant DNA Molecules and Animal Viruses and Cells.”

Sex- and Gender- Based Analysis (SGBA)

The Banting Research Foundation expects that all applicants will consider sex and/or gender (as appropriate) in their research design, methods, analysis, interpretation, and/or dissemination of findings when appropriate. For guidance, applicants should consult the CIHR tool, “Sex, Gender and Health Research Guide: A Tool for CIHR Applicants.”

Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

The Banting Research Foundation is committed to ensuring that its Discovery Award Program and grants review processes are fair and impartial treatment of all applicants. To fulfill this commitment, the Foundation must collect data on a number of equity dimensions to allow us to identify and address potential inequities. As of June 1, 2021, each applicant must complete an Equity and Diversity Questionnaire when applying online.

Acknowledgement

Any publication(s), abstract(s), presentation(s), and proceeding(s) resulting from the work supported by a grant from The Banting Research Foundation shall contain the following acknowledgement: “This work was supported by a grant from The Banting Research Foundation.”

Two-Step Application Process.

Phase 1: Notice of Intent (NOI) Instructions

Applicants must have submitted a NOI by November 1, 2023, will be invited to submit a full application. 

The NOI will comprise:

The title of the research proposal (125 characters or fewer). The same title must be used for the full proposal, due by January 24, 2024.

Keywords identifying the research focus of the project (5-7 keywords).

A Project Abstract – a summary of the proposal that highlights the project objectives and deliverables, and how the project shows research excellence and innovation (up to 1800 characters, approximately 300 words).

The total start-up funding, in dollars.

An acknowledgement of Institutional support. Each department/division head is permitted to nominate only one applicant during each annual granting cycle. The applicant must acknowledge that the plan to submit a proposal has been discussed with
the respective Department / Division Head.

Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be invited by November 30, 2023, to submit full applications for phase two of the Discovery Award process.

Phase 2: Application process

The full application deadline date is 9 pm Eastern on January 24, 2024. Receipt of applications will be acknowledged by email.

Eligible applications will be reviewed by the Banting Grant Review Panel in Late April. Final approval will be made by the Board of Trustees in May. Applicants will be notified by email of funding decisions in June 2024. Applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria will not be considered.

Applications are assessed based on:

● the innovative potential of the project
● track record of the applicant and the research environment
● merit of the proposal, project feasibility, and justification of the request
● the proposal’s consideration of EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion)
● impact of The Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award on the research
program, and
● the letter of support from the institution

The Banting Research Foundation Grant Review Panel consists of University of Toronto faculty members and members from outside the University of Toronto. The normal term for panel members is three years, renewable once.

The Chair and Scientific Officer (SO) of the Panel, with the assistance of the Executive Director, review all applications for eligibility and assign the applications. The Chair runs the review meeting and the SO summarizes the panel discussion of each grant in a confidential report that is sent to the applicant.

Each panel member is sent a list of applicants and application titles and is asked to declare their level of expertise (high, medium, low or conflict) for each. Applications are assigned accordingly. Each panel member reviews approximately 12-15 grants in total, eight as Primary or Secondary reviewer and four as Reader.

Each application is reviewed by a Primary Reviewer and a Secondary Reviewer, who each complete a brief (1-2 pages) report, and a Reader who reviews the grant but does not write a report. The two reviewers use a scale of 0-4.9 to rate each application and provide an initial score:

● 4.5-4.9 Outstanding
● 4.0-4.4 Excellent
● 3.5-3.9 Very Good
● < 3.5 Not fundable

In addition, each Primary and Secondary Reviewer is asked to rank order each application of all applications they reviewed as Primary and Secondary Reviewer. Top ranked applications will be discussed at the Grant Review Panel meeting. The other applications are not discussed but applicants receive comments from the two reports. Applications are assessed based on:

● The innovative potential of the project
● Track record of the applicant and the research environment
● Merit of the proposal, project feasibility, and justification of the request
● Potential impact of the Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award on the research program
● The letter of support from the Institution is also taken into consideration

At the panel meeting, the Primary and Secondary Reviewers each declare their initial scores. The Primary Reviewer provides a brief summary of the applicant, the proposal, the potential impact of the funding, and their analysis of the application. The Secondary
Reviewer comments on any points of disagreement. The Reader and other panel members provide additional comments. The SO summarizes the discussion and a consensus score is decided. Each panel member provides a confidential score +/- 0.5 from the consensus score, 4.9 being the maximum. The average scores are compiled by the Executive Director to come up with an overall rank order of all the applications that are recommended for funding to The Banting Research Foundation Board of Trustees. Funding is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.

All applicants receive reviewer comments as feedback on their applications, with reviewers’ identities removed.

Banting–CANSSI Discovery Awards in Biostatistics

A three-way partnership among Banting, CANSSI and CANSSI Ontario introduces interdisciplinary Banting–CANSSI Discovery Awards in Biostatistics. These are one-year awards of up to $30,000 each, intended to support early-career investigators in biostatistics who collaborate with scientists in fields of biomedicine, occupational health, or environmental health. A total of four awards are available to applicants with academic appointments at Canadian universities or their affiliated research institutes. Two of the four awards are reserved for biostatisticians based in Ontario. Applicants are required to propose innovative statistical or computational methodology research and demonstrate interdisciplinary collaboration with a health scientist on a project that has the strong potential to advance health, health equity, and/or patient outcomes. It must explain the application problem(s) motivating the proposed methodological research and relevant data description and must identify the specific methodological development component to the research. Project budget must be NSERC eligible expenses. It cannot be used directly for support of researchers in health sciences.

Banting–Data Sciences Institute Discovery Awards

The Banting–Data Sciences Institute Discovery Awards are one-year grants of up to $30,000 each, to support early career investigators in data science. A total of two grants may be awarded to applicants with academic appointments at the University of Toronto. Eligible applicants must be proposing new, innovative statistical or computational methodology – or proposing to implement existing methodology in novel ways – to address a health or biomedical research question.

Banting–Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Canada Award

This award is a one-year grant of up to $30,000 per year that will support research related to causes, mechanisms, prevention, and treatments which could potentially enable medical breakthroughs and transformative health care advances relating to dystonia. Eligible candidates must be focused on research that fulfills one or more of the core directions necessary to advance the field of dystonia. These core directions include furthering our fundamental understanding of dystonia, uncovering the mechanisms in the nervous system that lead to symptoms, creating experimental models of dystonia, and discovering targets for new and improved therapeutics designed specifically to treat dystonia. This includes hypothesis-driven research projects at the generic, molecular, cellular, or behavioral levels that may lead to a better understanding of pathophysiology or to new therapies for any or all forms of dystonia. 

University of Toronto 100th Anniversary Discovery of Insulin Banting Award

The Novo Nordisk Network for Health Populations (NHP) at the University of Toronto and the Banting Research Foundation have teamed up recently to offer a new one-year award to early career investigators at the University of Toronto valued at $30,000. Applicants must: 1) be faculty appointed within the first three years at the University of Toronto whose research project fulfills the eligibility criteria of the NHP; and, 2) propose new and innovative ways of tackling the burden and inequities related to diabetes and chronic disease. Through cross-disciplinary collaboration and partnerships within the Peel Region of Ontario, the research should propose a project that will support the co-design and evaluation of locally relevant solutions that can be applied to a broad range of contexts. Preference will be given to high-impact, innovative research projects that address key longstanding and emergent issues in health equity, population health and disease prevention.

These are some frequently asked questions about grant eligibility and our granting process. If you have a question that is not answered below, please contact us.

      • I am listed as co-PI on other grants. Does my funding as a co-PI count towards the limit for eligibility to the Banting Research Foundation?
      • I’ve been awarded an external operating grant over $50,000/yr but the grant does not begin until after the Discovery Award deadline. Can I still apply?
      • May I submit my application in French?
      • Does the grant funding cover indirect costs at our university/ research institute?
      • Is this grant only for medical researchers or can researchers from other fields also apply?
      • Your posting says you fund “all areas of medical research.” Does this include biomedical engineering?
      • I am a new investigator working at a research institute. Whose signatures are required from a research institute, especially in place of Dean of Faculty?
      • I was on maternity leave for one of the last three years since I was appointed. Does that get included in the “first three years of academic appointment”?
      • May I include a co-applicant on my application?
      • Our department is very large. May we submit an application from more than one division?
      • Did my application arrive?
      • When will the results of the competition be posted?

I am listed as co-PI on other grants. Does my funding as a co-PI count towards the limit for eligibility to the Banting Research Foundation?

Your eligibility depends on the total amount of annual research funding that is available to you. That would include any proportion of funds that is available to you on the grants on which you are co-PI. If you are part of a research group but do not actually have any operating funds allocated to you, then it does not add to your current annual operating funds. You should list the grant and indicate what amount, if any, is available to you.

I’ve been awarded an external operating grant over $50,000/yr but the the grant does not begin until after the Discovery Award deadline. Can I still apply?

No. You must have not been awarded more than $50,000 per annum in external operating funds at the application deadline date, regardless of when the funding becomes available to you.

May I submit my application in French?

While we would like to be able to review applications in both our official languages, at this time the capacity of our Grant Review Panel is limited to reviewing applications in English.

Does the grant funding cover indirect costs at our university/ research institute?

No, our grant funding supports only the direct costs of research and may not be applied to indirect costs of research.

Is this grant only for medical researchers or can researchers from other fields also apply?

As long as the research project itself is medical in nature, investigators from other fields may apply.

Your posting says you fund “all areas of medical research.” Does this include biomedical engineering?

Yes, as long as the work relates to medical research, it is eligible. I am a new investigator working at a research institute. Whose signatures are required from a research institute, especially in place of Dean of Faculty? Please check with your research administration office to find out whose signatures are appropriate. At least one official authorized to sign for the institute must sign the application form. If there is no equivalent to “Dean of Faculty,” just indicate that on the form.

I was on maternity leave for one of the last three years since I was appointed. Does that get included in the “first three years of academic appointment”?

No, it is not included. Eligible interruptions, such as parental leave, do not count in calculating your eligibility period. You should indicate this clearly on your application in the Personal Data section, and be prepared to provide a letter of verification from your institution.

May I include a co-applicant on my application?

No, this competition is for individual applicants only.

Our department is very large. May we submit an application from more than one division?

In cases of very large departments, like Medicine, it is acceptable to submit applications from more than one division. Just check with us before you proceed. The explanation should be included in the letter from the division head.

Did my application arrive?

You will be notified within 3 days that your email-submitted application was received.

When will the results of the competition be posted?

Results will be sent out via email in July. Applicants will also receive reviewers comments in July.

We Need Your Help

Your support is the spark that ignites the next wave of transformative health research. By investing in the Banting Research Foundation, you’re not just funding studies—you’re fueling innovation, championing early-career scientists, and driving breakthroughs that change lives. The future of discovery awaits us. Join us in shaping that future, and together, let’s embark on this exciting journey of scientific exploration and human advancement.