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Research Catalyst Network: Expediting collaboration between basic and clinician scientists in functional studies of novel rare disease genes

This competition is now closed.

1. Background

This partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Genome Canada builds on the success of the Research Catalyst Network: Rare Diseases program, launched in 2014. That funding led to the development of the Rare Diseases Models and Mechanisms Network (RDMM), a national consortium that enabled clinical geneticists identifying rare disease gene mutations to connect/collaborate with model organism researchers with expertise in the cognate gene’s function. 

Thanks in part to the RDMM network, the first of its kind around the globe, Canada’s national gene discovery programs are progressing at a higher success rate than anticipated. Moreover, the RDMM inspired and supported the development of similar initiatives in other countries.  The current volume of novel genes waiting for a connection to a model organism expert continue to grow, thereby justifying the second launch of this program. Furthermore, for about 10% of submitted genes, no suitable model could be identified in Canada.

This second edition of the program therefore aims at maintaining Canada’s leadership while developing the capacity to study genes for which no suitable models can be identified in Canada with other countries with similar networks.  This will provide a powerful incentive for expanded international collaborations between Canadian model organism researchers and clinical geneticists elsewhere, and will enable reciprocal arrangements whereby model organism researchers elsewhere will be funded by other networks to collaborate with Canadian clinicians.

2. Objective

This funding opportunity is designed to support a single national network organized to:

  • Identify instances where Canadian model organism expertise is relevant to a newly discovered disease gene. When such instances are found, a research project would be initiated to explore the functional characterization of the gene. On an annual basis, it is anticipated that this network would catalyze between 15-20 catalytic research projects per year.
  • Establish partnerships with and support the development of programs in other regions/countries that are modelled on the Canadian "Rare Diseases: Models & Mechanisms" Network funded through the first iteration of this program. These partnerships should allow genes for which no compatible model can be identified in Canada to be studied in other countries, and allow genes identified by clinicians in other countries to be studied by Canadian biomedical scientists.
  • Develop and implement innovative knowledge translation strategies/activities to link the clinical genetics and model organism research communities together.

3. Application Process

Applicants should submit their application directly to CIHR.  Peer review will be conducted in accordance with the Review guidelines – Priority-driven initiatives. For information on CIHR’s peer review principles, see the Peer Review: Overview section of CIHR’s website.

For information on the review process and evaluation criteria please see the full funding opportunity.

4. Evaluation and Adjudication

Please see the full Funding Opportunity for details.

Exceptions to Genome Canada’s Guidelines for Funding

  • Genome Centres: Although applications must be submitted directly to CIHR, and do not require sign-off from a regional Genome Centre, applicants are encouraged to contact their Genome Centre for advice regarding this joint initiative.
  • General and Administrative Costs: While administrative costs must be reasonable, low and directly related to the research proposed, due to the nature of the initiative Genome Canada’s normal limit of 5% of the non-administrative costs of the budget will not be applied.
  • Co-funding: Co-funding: There is no requirement for funding from sources other than Genome Canada and CIHR.
  • Reporting Requirements: The intent is to harmonize reporting requirements with CIHR as much as possible. Financial reporting will be required and Genome Centre(s) may also require periodic reporting on research progress, but this is expected to be no more frequent than annually.