MSFHR launches COVID-19 research response fund & first call for proposals

6 April 2020

The MSFHR COVID-19 Research Response Fund opens today with the first of several funding calls for BC researchers. Researchers or research teams interested in applying to this first call should have projects that address one or more of the following:

  • Rapid evaluation and/or modelling of public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to support decisions around when to withdraw these measures or redeploy them at a future date.
  • BC population-specific epidemiologic support for decision-makers including the identification of strategies to prevent high burdens of illness among key/vulnerable groups (e.g., residents of long-term care facilities, inner city populations, Indigenous people, health care workers, etc.).
  • Human geographic considerations in BC including rurality, community, culture and population movement with a view to preventing transmission and mitigating effects.
  • The identification and mitigation of the impacts of the pandemic and pandemic response including the secondary effects on the health of the population of BC.
  • The impacts of rapid health service redesign and redeployment on health outcomes in BC.

Successful projects will build on BC-specific capacities and strengths, draw on available expertise and resources and include cross-institution collaborations where appropriate. Projects should have results available in time to help inform public health responses through the fall and winter of 2020/21.

All applications will be peer reviewed using a rapid review methodology. This first call for applications will be open for six weeks (deadline May 19, 2020).

This funding call will operate on a rolling intake basis, with applications reviewed as they are received up to and including the May 19 deadline; successful applicants will be notified as they are determined and no later than mid-June 2020. Three cycles of peer review are currently planned during this funding call period.

Leveraging the power of partnerships

We recognize the value of partnerships and collaboration in optimizing the provincial funding dedicated to the MSFHR COVID-19 Research Response Fund. If your organization is interested in partnering with MSFHR on this funding opportunity, please contact Muneerah Kassam, manager, partnerships.

The British Columbia Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN) has already joined MSFHR as a partner and is offering resources and supports to researchers and research teams who are applying for MSFHR’s COVID-19 grant opportunity. Through the BC SUPPORT Unit (an operational unit of BC AHSN), additional resources and funding will be made available to funded researchers who embrace patient and public engagement in their proposed COVID-19-related studies.

Population Data BC is partnering with MSFHR to support projects that require the use of health data, such as results of COVID-19 testing, hospitalizations, physician service use, prescriptions medicines, demographics, social data, etc. Individual projects should outline data requirements, but do not need to include a data-related budget in their project. These requests will be expedited. Learn more.

Coordinating the provincial health research response

In support of the coordinated BC health research response to COVID-19 pandemic, MSFHR is serving as the secretariat for the newly-formed BC COVID-19 Strategic Research Advisory Committee. This committee reports to the province’s Health Emergency Coordination Centre and will advise the Province on what research needs to be done to support the Province’s response to the pandemic. The work of the committee will also help inform MSFHR’s COVID-19 research response.

The committee will be meeting to begin its work and develop how to gather input from the wider health and research community.

Supporting urgent research needs

MSFHR has funded four additional COVID-19 research teams for specific projects. These projects are based on urgent needs identified by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer to support the provincial government’s response to COVID-19, and include research to track the transmission of COVID-19 in B.C.; study the susceptibility of British Columbians to the virus; develop a vaccine for COVID-19 and understand the public health impact of misinformation during the pandemic.

As B.C.’s health research funding agency, MSFHR has historically played a key role in responding when emergencies arise to support the creation of needed critical health research data. For example, MSFHR supported vaccine development to combat the SARS virus and research to study the risks posed by H1N1 and H3N2 influenza.