We wish to express our deep concern about the funding of biomedical research in Canada.
Presently the likelihood that an individual grant application will be funded has reached an all time low. The percentage of successful applicants is about 15 % of the grants submitted. This means that very good grants are no longer fundable and that there is no guarantee that a grant rated excellent by the reviewers will be funded. All that is required to push an otherwise excellent grant below the funding ‘cut off line’ is for a small reservation to be expressed during the review meeting.
Studies have indicated that the Peer review process is not precise in arriving at final scores[i]. Thus the distinction between grants at the 10%, vs 20% level is questionable. Since the funding ‘cut off’ is ~ 15% then it is a game of chance as to whether an excellent grant will be funded. Our concern is that if we continue to starve the individual grants program we will lose investigators of talent to other countries as they come to see a bleak future for themselves in Canada. Those who stay risk random periods of lapsed funding which will jeopardize their competitiveness and indeed their careers.
We therefore urge the Committee charged with reviewing the status of the CIHR to make it a top priority to assure that there is a mechanism for augmenting and protecting funding for the individual grants program.
[i] Jayasinghe, U.W., H.W.Marsh and N.Bond. J.R.Statist.Soc.A (2003)166 (3) 279-300.
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