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The Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award

The Discovery Award is a one-year grant of up to $30,000 for innovative health and biomedical research projects by outstanding new investigators at universities and research institutes in Canada, who are within the first three years of their first academic appointment and who have received less than $200,000 as part of their start-up package. The intent is to provide seed funding so that applicants can gather pilot data to enhance their competitiveness for other sources of funding.  We fund at least 6 awards per year.  In addition, we partner with other organizations to grant co-funded Discovery Awards.

More information on our co-funded Discovery Awards is available below (click on the tabs).

REMINDER:  A two-step application process.

Only applicants that submitted a Notice of Intent to apply by December 1, 2022, 10 pm (eastern) will be eligible to submit a full application.  Refer to Discovery Award Guidelines below.

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2023 Discovery Award Guidelines


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 date of January 24, 2023.

       You must not have received more than $200,000 in start-up funding 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 operating funds at the application date of January 24, 2023. (An applicant who has been awarded more than $50,000 per annum in external operating funds may submit a request for up to $25,000, provided that the total sum of operating funds received from all sources during the funding year, including any funding awarded by The Banting Research Foundation, will not exceed $75,000).


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 may not be used to pay the salary of the applicant, overhead, or travel expenses. 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.”

Notice of Intent (NOI) Instructions

Only applicants that submit a NOI by December 1, 2022, 10 pm (eastern) will be eligible to submit a full application.  To obtain a copy of the NOI submission form <here>.

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, 2023.

      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 December 12, 2022 to submit full applications for phase two of the Discovery Award process.

Review Process

Applications must be received by the deadline January 24, 2023.  Eligible applications will be reviewed by the Grant Review Panel in late April or early May. Final approval will be made by the Board of Trustees in May.  Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in June 2023.  Applications that are incomplete or do not meet the eligibility criteria will not be reviewed. 

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 grantee shall submit to The Banting Research Foundation a brief report of the work performed within two months of the grant end date (June 30, 2024). Within two months of the grant end date, an accounting statement must be submitted by the comptroller to The Banting Research Foundation.


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.”

One copy of ALL publication(s), abstract(s) and/or proceeding(s) must be forwarded to The Banting Research Foundation.


Updated October 12, 2022

Application Procedure

Application Form

Two-Step Application Process:  Only applicants that submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) by December 1, 2022 will be eligible to submit a full application. 

Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be invited by December 12, 2022 to submit full applications for phase two of the Discovery Award process.


The application (full proposal) deadline date is January 24, 2023.

Receipt of Applications

Receipt of applications will be acknowledged by email.

Co-funded Discovery Awards

Co-Funded Awards

Some of our Discovery Awards may be co-funded by other organizations.

Applications for these partnered awards go through the same review process as all other applications for the Discovery Award and are scored and ranked together.

Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements of our Discovery Award program, rank in the fundable range, and show relevance to the partner organization’s areas of research focus to be considered for co-funded awards.  Keywords and clear statements about relevance in the application will be used to determine consideration for a co-funded award.


2023 Co-Funded Discovery Awards


(NEW) Banting–CANSSI Discovery Awards in Biostatistics


A three-way partnership among, Banting, CANSSI and CANSSI Ontario Introduces new 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 fulfils 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.

Banting–Mitacs Discovery Award

Researchers in the biomedical sciences are eligible to apply for the MitacsBanting Discovery Award, for projects contribution to health research.  This is a one-year award value at $30,000 will be reserved for an early-career scientist who has done research in partnership with industry or not-for-profits using a provincial or federal funding program that promotes industry-academic collaborations, or previously been a Mitacs-funded researcher, i.e., the client of one of Mitacs’ programs: Accelerate, Elevate or Globalink, either as the academic supervisor or as a student.

Grant Review Process

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

The Chair and Vice-Chair/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 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.



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. 

  1. 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?
  2. 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? 
  3. May I submit my application in French?
  4. Does the grant funding cover indirect costs at our university/ research institute?
  5. Is this grant only for medical researchers or can researchers from other fields also apply?
  6. Your posting says you fund “all areas of medical research.” Does this include biomedical engineering?
  7. 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?
  8. 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”?
  9. May I include a co-applicant on my application?
  10. Our department is very large. May we submit an application from more than one division?
  11. 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 available to you from 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/year, but the grant does not begin until after the Discovery Award deadline. Can I still apply? 

No. You must not have 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?

If the research project itself is medical or health-related in nature, investigators from other fields may apply.

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

Yes. If 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 on behalf of the institute must sign the application form. If there is no equivalent to “Dean of Faculty,” simply indicate that on the form and provide the most appropriate alternative signature.

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.

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.