Program Project Grants

This category is not open to applications. Details are provided for information only. Please see Financial administration for updated information on scientific and financial reporting requirements and policies.

1. Purpose

The purpose of a Program Project Grant is to stimulate group interaction based on the premise that high impact work in complex areas of cancer research requires complementary skills and can be best carried out through a group effort. Furthermore, the inclusion of well-justified, higher-risk projects are encouraged within Program Projects, since such projects are more likely to succeed in the context of a large program that includes a range of projects and investigators whose collective skills increase the probability of success of all components of the Program Project.

A Program Project is thus intended to assist groups of investigators to approach a common problem in such a way that the end result will have the potential to be outstanding, to achieve more than the simple sum of the individual efforts and to provide a high quality training environment.

Investigators pursuing cure-oriented research (i.e. biomedical/translational research that provides information that could form the basis, now or in the future, for innovative cancer treatments and/or cures) were considered under the category of Terry Fox New Frontiers Program Projects.

2. Unique features of a Program Project Grant

Program Projects represent scientific input from at least three (3) investigators (in the capacity of Principal Investigators), contributing to a central research focus or objective. Investigators may be based in different institutions and/or cities.

  • Program Projects comprise a minimum of three (3) components or projects that contribute to the common objective or focus.
  • The budget for a Program Project is normally between $500,000 - $1.5 M per year. Information of previously awarded programs is available in the Research Portfolio.
  • The Program Coordinator provides leadership and oversees all aspects of the integrated program project grant. The Program Coordinator possesses adequate scientific expertise, administrative experience and time commitment for the overall coordination and administration of the program project grant.
  • Individual projects were assessed independently for scientific merit and for their contribution to the central theme of the program. The overall program was also assessed for how interrelated and synergistic the projects were in their work towards a common goal. Put simply, the overall program had to have the potential to achieve much more than the simple sum of its component projects.

3. Method of application

The Letter of Intent was reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Research (ACOR) to assess how well the proposal meets with the investigative goals of the Canadian Cancer Society. Applicants were informed of the outcome of the Letter of Intent review by the end of July. Successful applicants were then invited to submit a full proposal by December 1. Specific guidelines for applications and appropriate forms were made available to successful applicants in August.

Due to this competitive review, only in exceptional circumstances would a change have been permitted in the full Program Project proposal. If a change was necessary, applicants informed the Canadian Cancer Society and enquired whether the change was permitted.

Investigators could submit identical proposals as individual grant applications and as projects within a Program Project Grant application to the Canadian Cancer Society. Note that parallel review by a grant panel was NOT automatic – submission of a separate application, as a stand-alone project, was required on the appropriate form to the grant competition. If both applications were successful, the investigator could only accept funding as part of the Program Project Grant. Currently funded individual projects submitted as a portion of a Program were not in jeopardy (i.e. if the program application was unsuccessful, the project would continue to be funded according to the original recommendations of the review panel).

Investigators could NOT submit identical proposals as part of more than one Program Project Grant application.

4. Certificates

The following may have been requested from all participating institutions, depending on the proposed work:

  • If an application involved the use of biological materials, submission of a certificate would be required from each institutional Biohazards Committee guaranteeing that the project would be conducted under conditions which satisfy the ”Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines”, published by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Health Canada.
  • If an application involved the use of experimental animals, submission of a certificate would be required from each institutional Animal Care Committee guaranteeing that all animals would be cared for and studied under conditions meeting the standards stated in “Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals”, published by the Canadian Council on Animal Care.
  • If an application involved human experimentation, submission of a certificate would be required from the appropriate Committee of each institution involved, stating that the protocols and methods had been found acceptable from an ethical point of view in accordance with the “TCPS 2 - Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans” (TCPS 2 has replaced the 1st edition of the TCPS (1998)) published by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
  • If an application proposed the creation or use of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, the investigator was required to contact the Canadian Cancer Society prior to submitting an application. The Government of Canada has passed Bill C-6, An Act respecting assisted human reproduction and related research that regulates, among other things, the use and creation of human embryonic stem cells. The Act may be found on Health Canada's website. Its provisions dictate the regulations incumbent on applicants, Host Institutions and the funder in the contemplation of carrying out of research covered by the legislation. This will often involve special ethics and other approval mechanisms (beyond approval via the usual local Ethics Review Board).
  • The Canadian Cancer Society has endorsed and adopted the Guidelines set forward by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, entitled Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research: Guidelines for CIHR-Funded Research. In addition, based on the recommendation of the CIHR-led Ad hoc Working Group on Stem Cell Research a Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC) has been struck. The SCOC will review applications dealing with human embryonic stem cells and other ethically sensitive human stem cell research to ensure that they are in accordance with CIHR's stem cell Guidelines. As with all ethical approvals, for any research grant involving human embryonic stem cells, it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the work proposed had been approved by the SCOC.

No funds would be released to successful applicants until all required certificates were received.

5. Review mechanism

After the submission of the full application, all applications were reviewed on the basis of the written application alone, by a specifically composed expert review team, who rated and scored the application and its component parts. The rating and recommendation of the review team was brought to ACOR, where a decision was made as to whether or not a site visit was warranted. If so, the expert review team would also conduct the site review. If, on the other hand, in the opinion of the review team and of ACOR, the priority score assigned to the application at stage one was insufficient to warrant further consideration, the review and consideration of the application was terminated at that point.

If a site visit was conducted, it would occur between February and mid-May. Funding for approved Programs began on July 1.

6. Terms of awards

Applications had to be made by a minimum of three investigators, designated Principal Investigators, who were required to have formal affiliations with a Canadian university or other recognized institution and one investigator must be designated as the Program Coordinator to be responsible for administration of the funds provided.

Applications could include requests for such items as salaries for personnel (technicians, students and postdoctoral fellows) and supplies as in research grants, but could also request a well-justified core facility. Requests for core support, including support for central facilities and core personnel, had to be applicable to multiple projects within the program and be defended by a clear rationale. Requests for equipment, core secretarial and research travel were required to be itemized and justified. Costs for conference travel were no longer awarded as of July 1, 2008. At the suspension of this competition, there was no ceiling on funding for Program Project Grants, either on a project basis or on a program basis, however a Program Project would normally be funded between $500,000 - $1.5 M per year.

Initial awards were made for a period of three years and renewal awards could request support for up to five years.

7. Grant start date

The start date for Program Project Grants applied for in December would be July of the following calendar year.

8. Acknowledgement of funds

Grantees are required to acknowledge the funder in all scientific communications and media releases related to their grant. The Notification of Award details the funder clearly. Proper acknowledgement would be “This research is funded by the (funder) (grant #XXXXXX)".


9. General administration

Administration of these funds follow essentially the same guidelines as those for research grants and as described under financial administration.

Last modified on: September 14, 2017