The Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiative is a high profile, interdisciplinary initiative located at McGill University, and made possible with support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). HBHL’s strategic priorities are represented by its four Research Themes.
HBHL-supported core facilities and technology platforms provide services, analyses, instrument and technology access, or expertise needed and utilized by many investigators. State-of-the-art core facilities and technology platforms are magnets for collaborations on a global scale and major assets in the recruitment and retention of talented PIs, trainees and staff. They are also crucial in the training of highly qualified personnel (HQPs). These facilities are generally too expensive, complex or specialized for investigators to cost-effectively create and sustain themselves.
One of HBHL’s objectives is to support new and/or existing core facilities and technology platforms in areas of research that align with HBHL’s objectives. In 2018, HBHL allocated three-year funding to nine core facilities and technology platforms. As part of the HBHL mid-term review, these core facilities and technology platforms were thoroughly reviewed by internal and external reviewers. Of these, four were renewed.
Core facilities and technology platforms require continual development of professional expertise to operate, maintain, upgrade and/or expand in order to serve new research purposes and/or new research communities. The current competition is open to both applications from cores/platforms that have not been previously funded by HBHL, as well as those that have previously received funding. HBHL will prioritize applications that help to advance our priorities and that have a solid plan for sustainability beyond HBHL funding.
The objectives of the current competition are to:
- Strengthen and improve McGill research capacity with state-of-the-art technology and know-how that enables HBHL to undertake world-class research.
- Enable McGill core facilities and technology platforms to operate at an optimal level and to have their scientific and technical capabilities fully exploited or expanded, while providing vital support to the broad research community working in the HBHL research areas.
- Foster the adoption of best practices in governance and management, including long-term strategic and operational planning (e.g., cost recovery and sustainability).
For an application to be eligible
- The Nominated Principal Applicant must be an independent researcher and McGill faculty.
- Nominated Principal Applicants may submit only one (1) application per competition as an applicant, but may be a co-applicant on multiple applications. There can only be one Nominated Principal Applicant per application.
- The Nominated Principal Applicant must submit a certificate of completion for one of CIHR’s online training modules on sex- and gender-based analysis plus (SGBA+) with the application.
- Any co-applicants must be from McGill, McGill-affiliated hospitals or one of HBHL’s CFREF partner institutions (i.e., Western University, Université de Montréal, University of British Columbia or Polytechnique Montréal) and be an independent researcher. Note: Nominated Principal Applicants may transfer funds to McGill-affiliated co-applicants.
- Collaborators (individuals who make a significant contribution to the project who are from within or outside of McGill, including but not limited to another academic institution, industry, foundation, etc.) may be named on the application. However, HBHL funds from this competition may not be transferred to collaborators or used as compensation for collaborators. Collaborators may provide letters of support to describe their participation in the proposed core facility or platform.
Budget and eligible expenses
- Eligible expenses are limited to direct costs only, such as salary and benefits for personnel to provide service to researchers who are using the core or platform, technical personnel for operations of equipment, supplies, travel, workshops, computers, and services.
- Upgrades, repairs and service contracts for instruments and purchase of small equipment.
- All expenses must adhere to guidelines in the CFREF Administration Guide.
Ineligible expenses for this call include but are not limited to:
- Research infrastructure operating costs that are already supported by CFI
- Salary support for trainees at all levels (including post-docs)
- Salary support for PIs
- Salary support for administrative support to PIs
- Costs for the renovation, moving or rental of laboratories or supporting facilities
See CFREF Administration Guide for complete list of ineligible expenses, in addition to the above.
It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the application as described below is submitted online by May 18, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.
Applications that are incomplete or submitted after the deadline will not be accepted. Applications submitted by email will not be accepted. If any technical difficulties are experienced with the online submission, it is the applicant’s responsibility to notify HBHL of this prior to the deadline.
The online application includes the following seven parts (it is advisable to review the detailed requirements for all parts before beginning the application):
- Part 1: Applicant Information
- Part 2: General Core Facility or Technology Platform Information (including engagement with Western University and NeuroHub)
- Part 3 Application Package (see details below)
- Part 4: Suggestions for External Reviewers
- Part 5: Primary applicant’s electronic certificate of completion from at least one of CIHR’s Online Training Modules on Integrating Sex and Gender in Health Research
- Part 6: Applicant Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Self-Identification
- Part 7: Applicant Declaration
Detailed instructions for Part 3: Application package
Total eight (8) components, included in a single PDF file. Application package must include applicant name and core/platform name in a header on each page of the project description.
Please respect the page limits indicated and use the provided budget and biosketch templates.
1. Background and rationale (maximum 1.5 pages)
- Brief background and rationale of your core facility or technology platform (e.g. when and how it was established, the mission).
- Services, technologies, instruments or tools to be provided to the community
- Indicate the timelines, milestones and deliverables for the proposed services and technologies.
- Describe how the core or platform will respond to an identified need among HBHL-related researchers.
- Explain how your core facility or technology platform meets the following definition (rather than a research program with a group of collaborators):
Core facilities/technology platforms typically are units within an organization with dedicated personnel, equipment and space for operations. Core facilities/technology platforms provide services, analysis, instrument and technology access, and expertise. In general, cores/platforms recover the cost, or a portion of the cost, of providing service in the form of user fees that are charged to an investigator’s funds.
- Illustrate the uniqueness of your core or platform. What sets it apart from others that are available?
- Describe the potential of this core or platform to support researchers to advance HBHL’s research goals.
- Short-term and long-term prospective impact on neuroscience community, particularly at McGill.
2. Operations, governance, management and human resources (maximum 1.5 pages)
- Describe the core or platform’s operations, standard operating procedures, etc.
- Describe the core or platform’s s governance and management structure (refer to existing website, if applicable).
- Describe the team (research and technical staff) (you must list all core personnel in sheet 3 of the attached budget template and provide a two-page bio of the key core personnel).
- Describe the strategy for training and professional development of the core facility or technology platform personnel.
- Describe the resource management plan (e.g., use of equipment and maintenance).
3. User base, engagement, communications, training of HQPs (maximum 2 pages)
- Describe the need for your core or platform from the McGill neuroscience community and beyond.
- Describe your strategy for user engagement and training.
- Describe your strategy for communicating about and promoting the services, technologies and tools provided by your core or platform.
- For existing core facilities or technology platforms, please list the number of courses, seminars, workshops and presentations on related technology (including from vendors), that you have held over the past year (or most recent year in full operation if affected by COVID-19 pandemic), or are planning to hold.
- Describe your strategy for obtaining and responding to user feedback.
- Described your strategy for tracking user publications, grants and other outputs.
- Use the table template below to provide an overview of your users/anticipated users
Note: # of users = unique # of research groups. For existing cores or platforms, please provide a detailed user list (including names and affiliations). Please include this list as an appendix to your application if the length exceeds this section’s page limit of two pages.
Current # of users
Projected # of users if funded (year 1)
Projected # of users if funded (year 2)
Projected # of users if funded (year 3)
McGill & affiliated
External academic institutions
External non-academic institutions
Other (please specify)
4. Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (maximum half a page)
- Describe the manner in which the activities of your core facility or technology platform advance McGill’s commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). For example, you may wish to describe how the core or platform facilitates access for all interested researchers and trainees (e.g., equitable scheduling procedures, wide promotion of services, how the core or platform makes the services affordable for all researchers) or your focus on equity in your hiring and training practices, etc.
- Other examples of potential EDI practices are available on the HBHL website.
- IMPORTANT: Listing or commenting on the personal identities of core or platform staff or users is not an acceptable response to this section, constitutes a breach of confidentiality and will not be reviewed.
5. Sex- and gender-based analysis plus (SGBA+) (maximum half a page)
- Explain how the core or platform will encourage or facilitate the integration of sex as a biological variable, gender as a socio-cultural determinant of health and/or other relevant intersectional identity factors (e.g., race, age, Indigeneity, ability) in the research it supports (if applicable). Examples might include: ensuring adequate access to both male and female animals, collecting or providing functionality to collect and analyze sex- or gender-disaggregated data from participants, providing training on the use of female animals, etc.
- If none of the above SGBA+ factors are included in the development or activities of the core or platform, please provide an evidence-based justification for this decision.
- The primary applicant must attach an electronic certificate of completion from at least one of CIHR’s Online Training Modules on Integrating Sex and Gender in Health Research.
6a. Financial management and need for HBHL funding (maximum 3 pages + letters of support)
- Describe your cost recovery strategy.
- Provide an overview of the total operating costs and non-HBHL funding (confirmed and anticipated) for the next four years.
- Provide a detailed budget justification for all expense categories of the requested HBHL funding, including a description of personnel activities to be supported in part or in total by the award.
- Demonstrate the need for the requested HBHL funding (i.e., describe why HBHL funding is critical for this core or platform).
- Describe the sustainability plan beyond HBHL funding (starting year 4). Note: If you expect no or minimal user fees, please describe your other revenue strategies.
- Provide proof of all available funding an appendix (e.g., a letter of support or contract agreement which indicates the confirmed amount of cash contribution to the core, or a notice of award).
Please use the HBHL Core Facility and Technology Platform Budget Template. Note that there are three sheets in the Excel document.
- All applicants must complete sheets 2 and 3 of the budget template.
- Existing cores/platforms must also complete sheet 1.
- Provide a two-page biosketch for each applicant/co-applicant(s). Do not submit biosketches for collaborators. Use the provided template: Biosketch template
- Brief bios for key staff who are running the core or platform (i.e., core manager, technicians) (maximum two pages total for all key staff bios, do not use biosketch template)
8. For cores or platforms previously funded by HBHL only (no page limit)
Address all major criticisms and concerns raised by reviewers as part of the midterm review.
- Metrics for Success: Strategies for Enabling Core Facility Performance and Assessing Outcomes
- Building a Sustainable Portfolio of Core Facilities: a Case Study
Evaluation is based on the six criteria below (100 points total). Higher quality applications will receive a higher point total value.
1. Background and rationale for proposed core facility/technology platform (25 points)
- The clarity and feasibility of the proposed services (e.g., timelines, milestones and deliverable should be clearly indicated).
- Evidence that the core or platform responds to an identified need among HBHL-related researchers.
- Clear justification that the proposal is to support a core facility or technology platform rather than a research program.
- Evidence that the core or platform provides a unique and useful service to its intended user base.
- The potential of this core or platform to support researchers to advance HBHL’s research goals.
- Evidence of short- and long-term prospective impact on neuroscience community, particularly at McGill.
2. Operations, governance, management, Human Resources (20 points)
- Evidence that the core or platform has adopted best practices in operations and governance as appropriate to its size and complexity.
- The qualifications and appropriateness of the leadership and staff to manage and deliver the proposed objectives.
- Evidence of a plan for professional development of the core or platform personnel.
- Evidence that an effective resource management plan is in place (e.g., equipment use and maintenance).
3. User base engagement, communications, training of HQPs (20 point)
- There is a demonstrated need from the McGill neuroscience community and beyond (e.g., other academic institutions, industry).
- Size and diversity of user base (or potential for same). An overview of users/anticipated users is included (see example table provided above in Application Package, Item 3). For existing core facilities/technology platforms, a detailed user list is provided.
- Evidence (or clear action plan) of regular user engagement and training, e.g., number of courses, seminars, workshops and presentations on core- or platform-related technology (including from vendors) and open house events.
- Evidence of a feasible plan to accurately track user publications, grants and other outputs.
- Evidence of a strategic communications plan, including implementation and evaluation strategy (including user feedback).
- Informative and regularly updated website for the core or platform.
- Evidence of regular communications (newsletters, event announcements) to potential users via mailing lists.
4. Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) (10 points)
- The quality of the application’s commitment to integrate and promote principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in the management of the core/platform, including staffing and user access.
- Transparency of access to services (e.g., user fees and booking access are in public domain such as on the core website).
- Demonstrated equitable access to services for all potential users.
5. Sex- and gender-based analysis plus (SGBA+) (No points allotted)
Applicants may be asked to revise if response is deemed inadequate
- The appropriateness of the core or platform’s support for the integration of sex as a biological variable and/or gender as a socio-cultural determinant of health or the appropriateness of the justification for not including these or other intersectional factors.
- Please note that SGBA+ will be reviewed separately by designated, knowledgeable reviewer(s) for all applications. Applicants may be asked to revise this section prior to receiving funding if reviewers deem it inadequate.
6. Financial management and need for HBHL funding (25 points)
There is a demonstrated need for the requested funding to further develop, fully exploit and optimally operate the core or platform to address the needs of the HBHL community.
- Evidence (or clear feasible plan) for cost recovery.
- Clear overview of the budget planning for the next four years.
- The budgeted expenses are appropriate for the proposed activities.
- Demonstrated need for the requested HBHL funding (i.e., describe why HBHL funding is critical for this core or platform).
- Relevance and feasibility of the sustainability plan (e.g., strategy for seeking other sources of funding, feasible user fees structure).
- The appropriateness of the budget compared to the service provided and the number of potential users who will be served.
- Budget template (all the required sheets) is completed following the guidelines.
Notification of Results
All applicants will be notified by email of the results of their application.
Please contact the hbhl [at] mcgill.ca (HBHL support team by email) with any questions.
HBHL is committed to equity and diversity within its community and values academic rigour and excellence. We welcome and encourage applications from racialized persons/visible minorities, women, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as from all eligible applicants with the skills and knowledge to engage productively with diverse communities.
At McGill, research that reflects diverse intellectual traditions, methodologies, and modes of dissemination and translation is valued and encouraged. Applicants are invited to demonstrate their research impact both within and across academic disciplines and in other sectors, such as government, communities, or industry.
HBHL further recognizes and fairly considers the impact of leaves (e.g., family care or health-related) that may contribute to career/education interruptions or slowdowns. Applicants are encouraged to signal any leave that affected productivity, or that may have had an effect on their education/career path. This information will be considered to ensure the equitable assessment of the applicant’s record.
HBHL implements an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and encourages members of designated equity groups to self-identify. It further seeks to ensure the equitable treatment and full inclusion of persons with disabilities by striving for the implementation of universal design principles transversally, across all facets of the University community, and through accommodation policies and procedures. Persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations for any part of the application process hbhl [at] mcgill.ca (may contact us in confidence).