Canada Offers Funding for Emerging Variants Research

eAwaz Medicine

Ottawa – CIHR will launch a funding opportunity in the coming weeks to provide up to $9 million funding for a national network of networks focused on all four pillars of SARS-CoV-2 variant research. Specifically, up to $6M will support the establishment of a single CIHR Network for Emerging Variants Research and up to $3 million will enable the rapid support of research activities required to swiftly characterize and assess the individual and population health threats of emerging VOCs.
As the pandemic evolves, CIHR may consider providing additional funding. The funded entity is expected to coordinate the networks and fill gap areas so that it is composed of interdisciplinary teams that integrate biomedical, clinical, population health and social science researchers working together on emerging variants. It is anticipated that the networks will span a broad range of research areas and may include, but are not limited to, in silico modelling, functional genomics, in vitro and in vivo characterization, immunological assessment, and health systems, public health and social policy impacts.
The combined expertise will enable Canada’s research community to deliver on all aspects of the characterization of emerging variants, in a rapid, coordinated, and open fashion. It is expected this investment will result in the characterization of biologically-meaningful emerging SARS-CoV2 variants that could affect human health and the mechanism(s) by which they do so. This will inform ongoing research initiatives, clinical care, public health systems and policy formulation in a time sensitive manner using the principles of open science.
As such, the national network will work synergistically and seamlessly with the (developing) VOCN (variants of concern surveillance network) composed of National Microbiology Laboratory, provincial public health laboratories and networks and Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network CanCOGeN that are focused on epidemiological and genomic sequencing surveillance to complete the whole spectrum of SARS-CoV-2 variant research.
The delivery of this initiative will be patterned on the successful process implemented for the development of a Network of Clinical Trials Networks which was completed within 6 weeks that facilitated the collaboration and coordination of research on interventions to prevent, detect, manage, and/or treat COVID-19. Details for this initiative will be announced shortly with the target anticipated application deadline around the end of February 2021.