Terms of Reference and Mandate for the Committee for Oversight of Research Units (CORU)

Mandate, Terms of Reference and Membership

Research is increasingly being conducted by groups of individuals with shared interests, often with complementary (and interdisciplinary) areas of expertise. Research Centres are expected to provide added-value, over and above that feasible within a traditional departmental structure.  It is expected that members of a Research Centre will, at a minimum, hold team or group grants, in addition to the funding granted to individual members of the centre.  Ideally, Research Centres will be supported by programs available through external funding agencies specifically targeted to support such centres (e.g., FRQ – Regroupements Stratégiques, Groupes, Réseaux).

The Committee for Oversight of Research Units in the Faculty of Medicine (CORU) was established in 2011 to review Faculty of Medicine research units, where a unit can be a centre, institute (not hospital affiliated), network or other group that receives funding from the University (from the Vice Principal, Provost or the Faculty of Medicine) as a cash contribution (various sources, including from endowed funds), payment of rent for an offsite location, a portion of indirect costs or other.  Members of the Faculty of Medicine comprise the majority of the active researchers in said research units.


  • To maintain a database of all known research units in the Faculty of Medicine which receive University funding.  A research unit can be a centre (official McGill or other), a network/réseau, an institute (not hospital-affiliated), or other group that functions like a research centre and where a Director is clearly designated.
  • To establish a fair and transparent oversight methodology so that annual performance can be accurately accessed.
  • To make constructive recommendations to research units in order to foster their activities and visibilities.
  • To help guide centres that would like official “McGill Research Centre” status through the process of formation, evaluation and naming. Such official Centres are entitled to use the McGill name and logo (McGill University Policy on Research Centres).
  • To make recommendations of the amount of funding, if any, to be provided by the Faculty of Medicine, based on performance indicators and/or leveraging of external funding (either projected or actual) to the Dean.

Terms of Reference

The Committee shall be composed of Faculty of Medicine staff with varied expertise so as to provide fair and balanced oversight, to a maximum of no more than 7 persons. One member will be appointed by the Dean and act as chair (see Membership below).

The committee will make use of a rating method that will work as a tool for such oversight, bearing in mind that all research units will be unique and that performance indicators of utility may vary among them. The committee will evaluate the performance and financial statement of established, funded units on an annual basis, following the cycle of the financial fiscal year as used by the University. Funding commitments will be made for a 1- to 3-year period.  Annual reports will be required of all Centres, even if funded for 3 years.

Based on scoring and rank ordering of the annual reports made at an in camera meeting  of the committee, recommendations will be made to:

  • The Director of the research unit, providing him/her with constructive comments and an explanation of the recommendations made to the Dean.
  • The Dean, providing him/her with recommendations as to the amount of funding and reasons for such recommendations.  (Note: if there is significant disagreement within the members concerning funding of a particular research unit, the committee’s report  will make that known to the Dean.)

The decision to recommend continued funding of a research unit for a 1- to 3-year period will be qualified with a rationale for keeping it at the same level, increasing it or decreasing it.  All reports will be rank ordered, with funding provided to units in keeping with their ranking, within the limits of the available funding.  (Details regarding funding are available in the document Annual Review and Funding of Research Centres.)

The decision to recommend discontinuation of funding will only be made after careful deliberation and will reflect either that the research unit in question:

  • is no longer reliant on the University funding and such funding is not a condition for external funding (should it be held) and that the unit is fully viable without additional support;  
  • did not provide the requested annual report and financial statement in a timely manner; or performed poorly, as demonstrated in the completed annual reports and financial statements, following a 1-year renewal associated with previous performance concerns.

The basis for the recommendation for discontinued funding will be clearly delineated to both the director of the research unit and the Dean.

Periodically, as needed throughout the year, the committee will evaluate applications from new research units that seek University research centre status and/or funding, possibly as a condition for external financial support and will make recommendations to the Dean.  (See Guidelines for the Establishment of New Research Centres.)

The Mandate and Terms of Reference will be maintained on the Faculty of Medicine Research website along with any supporting documents that the committee deems helpful to the directors of research units.


The members of CORU will be appointed by the Chair of the Committee for a 2-year term, renewable. Membership will include adequate breadth of expertise, including representation of clinical science and applications. Members who are Centre Directors may not serve on the committee during the year in which their Centre is being considered for funding.

Membership includes the Associate Dean (Research) as Dean’s representative and CORU Chair, and 7 members with various degrees of academic experience (Chairs of Departments, Centre Directors, other Faculty members) with an emphasis on the inclusion of researchers at all stages of their careers (including early career investigators and individuals from under-represented groups).

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