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Research redesign FAQ

What are the Canadian Cancer Society’s research priorities?

A new, nationwide strategic plan for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) was formalized in 2010. This plan outlines three “Ends”, or long-term goals, that guide the mission of the CCS, including research. End 1 is focused on reducing cancer incidence; End 2 is focused on reducing mortality rates; and End 3 is focused on improving the quality of life (QOL) of those living with and beyond cancer. With respect to research, our strategic priorities for the next five years are clear: to increase our focus on End 1 research, and maintain our research efforts in Ends 2 and 3. While priority areas have been identified in each of those Ends, they all include an articulated goal of supporting critical fundamental research that generates new knowledge.

What will the new CCSRI research programs “look” like?

The new core CCSRI research portfolio will be designed around the Society’s three organizational “Ends” or long-term goals that guide the mission of the CCS. A key message from our consultations with the three broad research communities that serve those three Ends was that they are in different stages of development and maturity, and have different needs and priorities:

  • End 1 (risk reduction and prevention research): build capacity
  • End 2 (basic biomedical and translational research): sustain excellence and support innovation
  • End 3 (quality of life research): bring focus to have impact

The primary goal of the End 1 research strategy is to create a more cohesive and coordinated national risk reduction and prevention research program. Specifically, it will incorporate the CCSRI Prevention Initiative, CCSRI major research initiatives and regional division activities and facilitate the research-policy-practice continuum. Targeted RFAs will continue to be developed and launched through the Prevention Initiative with some exciting new programs to be announced in June.

The primary goal of the End 2 research strategy is to build on the considerable strengths of the biomedical/translational research community by continuing to support open investigator-initiated research. The new program is designed to support a scientific idea “pipeline” with a two-tier grant system that brackets the traditional operating grants offered by CIHR. Specifically the new Innovation Grants program will support more innovative, creative problem solving in cancer research (high risk/high reward), while the new Impact Grants program will support paradigm-shifting research programs in the continuum from basic discovery to clinical application and will be longer term and larger in size than traditional operating grants.

The primary goal of the End 3 research strategy is to have targeted, investigator-initiated competitions in QOL research that will address priority areas determined in consultation with the research community. The program will emphasize knowledge translation by providing an evidence base to support delivery of the most effective programs to enhance the QOL of cancer survivors and their families.

Will CCSRI still support basic biomedical research projects?

Yes. CCSRI is very committed to biomedical research. Basic research has been, still is, and will continue to be the mainstay of the research that the Canadian Cancer Society funds. It is a huge strength in Canada, and we are committed to sustaining excellence and supporting innovation in this mature research community.

If I am a risk reduction/prevention researcher, can I apply to “End 2” or “End 3” research programs?  Can a biomedical researcher apply to “End 1” or “End 3” research programs etc.?

Yes. While the new research funding mechanisms are being designed to meet the needs of the different research communities, researchers are not restricted to applying to a particular mechanism. Researchers must clearly demonstrate how their proposals fit the criteria established for the particular program mechanism. We also anticipate and encourage multidisciplinary proposals that cross the priorities of multiple “Ends”.

How can CCSRI maintain support of biomedical/translational (End 2) and quality of life (End 3) research while increasing its investment in risk reduction and prevention research (End 1)?

Recognizing the importance of risk reduction and prevention research, the Canadian Cancer Society established the Prevention Initiative in 2009. The development of Prevention Initiative programs has been guided by our National Advisory Committee on Research in Prevention (NACORP). Prevention Initiative programs have been running since 2009, through a series of Requests for Applications (RFAs) and capacity building programs representing a total commitment of almost 6.5Min the last two years. Several new programs are in development through the Prevention Initiative and will be announced in the coming months. To date these programs have largely been funded through a dedicated pool of CCS funds that were specifically designated towards risk reduction and prevention research. Our new research portfolio will better integrate the Prevention Initiative within our larger research program.

The new core CCSRI research portfolio will be designed around the three organizational Ends. In order to achieve our strategic goals, research funding targets will be established for each organizational End.  Our current breakdown of funding between Ends 1, 2 and 3 is 12%:80%:8%, respectively. By necessity, these percentages will change. Our five-year targets for funding within our redesigned research portfolio are: End 1 – 18-20%, End 2 – 72-75%, End 3 –7-8%. These targets are based on current, conservative revenue projections for the CCS, however opportunities for growth within different Ends would likely change these targets if additional resources became available.

How do these percentages relate to dollars? I hear that CCSRI’s budget is reducing.

The Society, like most other charities, is still experiencing the effects of the global recession. However, despite these economic challenges, we have gone to great lengths to preserve and protect the funding “envelope” for our major research programs, notably the open grants competition. We have achieved this by deliberately spending down research reserve funds more quickly than anticipated. These funds are not being replenished, thus we need to design a research program that is financially flexible, responsible, and sustainable. Importantly, our new research portfolio will excite the public and help us raise more money for research. In addition to our “core” research program, we anticipate that we will be able to launch new program elements in response to specific funding opportunities.

When will I be able to apply to these new programs?

A formal program announcement about the redesigned research portfolio will be made in late June or early July 2011. This announcement will include details and timelines about the Innovation and Impact grant programs, new funding opportunities through the Prevention Initiative, and the plan to develop priority research areas in quality of life research. Upcoming dates of interest:

  • Early October, 2011 – first Innovation Grants competition deadline
  • Fall 2011 – LOI deadlines for new Prevention Initiative programs
  • Fall 2011 – Establishment of “End 3” scientific oversight committee
  • Early 2012 – first Impact Grants competition LOI deadline

Funding for the first round of the Innovation grants program and new Prevention Initiative programs will begin in 2012, and funding for the first Impact grants will begin in 2013. As is the case for our current research programs, all of the new CCSRI research programs will be adjudicated through the highest quality scientific peer review processes. These new programs are a mix of open, investigator-initiated competitions and targeted programs, which address our strategic goals as a cancer charity investing on behalf of the Canadian public. New funding or partnership opportunities may arise that would enable CCSRI to augment our core programs with additional funding for more targeted or topic-specific research.

What about projects that are currently being funded by CCS?

CCS will honour all current funding commitments to their planned end dates. The staggered launch of the new programs was designed with these significant commitments in mind in order to launch programs that are both impactful and significant, and also financially realistic.

What if I was planning on applying for a renewal in the upcoming fall competition?

We recognize that researchers who hold CCSRI grants ending in June 2012 may have already been considering a renewal grant submission for this fall. The decision to discontinue the CCSRI October 15 research grants competition in order to launch our new research program may therefore have particularly affected you. CCSRI has decided to make a limited pool of funds available for extensions of grants that are directly related to the current CCSRI-funded grant to those who are successful in obtaining alternate sources of peer-reviewed funding. The conditions of eligibility can be found here.

What if I have a question that’s not addressed here?

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to direct them to research@cancer.ca.

Last modified on: October 31, 2013