Request for Applications – Strategic Operating Grants

Request for Applications – Strategic Operating Grants

The Arthritis Society is pleased to announce the 2019-20 Strategic Operating Grants (SOG) Competition.

Online Research Grants Portal open: Late February 2019
Letters of Intent (LOI) submission deadline: April 15, 2019, 5:00 PM EST
Notification of LOI results: mid-June 2019
Online Research Grants Portal open: mid-June 2019
Full Application submission deadline: August 26, 2019, 5:00 PM EST
Notification of decision: mid-December 2019
Funding start date: January 1, 2020

Please see the eligibility and requirements section prior to creating an application.


The Strategic Operating Grant (SOG) program provides funding to support research proposals aligned with the Arthritis Society's priorities. Consistent with the Arthritis Society’s 2015-2020 Research Strategy, Requests for Applications (RFAs) for SOGs will be made available by theme (typically one theme a year).   The Arthritis Society will be accepting applications relevant to:

Strategic Theme I: Improving our understanding of arthritis and finding the cure
Research under this theme will seek to improve our understanding of the causes of arthritis in order to develop new approaches to alleviate the pain, prevent and/or slow the progression of disease, restore joint function, and eventually cure those affected by arthritis.
Research programs relevant to Strategic Theme I will have a main objective of:

  • Understanding arthritis and arthritis pain pathophysiology and identifying therapeutic opportunities;
  • Identifying and characterizing risk, and causal factors and/or development of arthritis and arthritis pain (including: biologic and endogenous factors; physical environment; and, psychological, social and economic factors);
  • Discovering, developing and evaluating diagnostic (early detection), prognostic and predictive markers and technologies (such as imaging, diagnostic and other assessment tools) of disease (including: biomarker discovery and evaluation);
  • Discovering, developing and evaluating potential therapeutic interventions in model systems and preclinical settings. (Including: pharmaceuticals; biologics; gene/cell/tissue therapies; medical devices; surgery (including joint replacement); and physical agents – including physical therapy, radiotherapy, ultrasound, laser and phototherapy).

Special Call
Applications are encouraged in the area of childhood arthritis. The Arthritis Society has committed $5M over 5 years to our Stop Childhood Arthritis initiative to fund ground-breaking research into childhood arthritis so that no child has to live with unnecessary pain.  We are very proud to partner with Genome Canada and other organizations to accelerate this important research.  We anticipate funding at least one award in this area, with a particular emphasis on:

  • disease mechanisms of childhood arthritis
  • new therapies and personalized approaches for childhood arthritis
  • innovations in transitions of care from pediatric to adult settings

Consumer Engagement
The Arthritis Society strongly values the voice of consumers in research, both in their inclusion in grant applications and the peer review process.  Applicants are encouraged to consider this in their submission.

Applicants are strongly advised to read all program documentation listed below as well as the Research Strategy. If you have any questions, please contact the research department at [email protected].


To be considered eligible for this award:

  • Applications must be submitted by an eligible Principal Investigator (PI) an eligible Canadian Host institution as defined by the Arthritis Society.

The roles and responsibilities of the Principal Investigator and Host Institution in the management of the Arthritis Society’s research and training funds are defined on the Arthritis Society’s website.

A maximum of one application per Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator will be permitted in each competition.

Award amount and term

Pending available funds, the Arthritis Society will fund up to six (6) grants. The maximum grant per application is $120,000 annually for up to three (3) years ($360,000 total). These grants are non-renewable.

Peer Review

There will be a multi-stage application and review process. Applicants will be required to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) and after peer review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full application. A multidisciplinary peer review committee will be assembled to review the LOIs and full applications. The peer review committee will consist of scientific and clinical experts, along with consumers to provide patient perspectives.

All submissions will be screened for completeness and eligibility. Applications at either the LOI or full application stage that are incomplete or do not contain all the required information will be deemed ineligible and withdrawn from the competition process. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that applications are complete at the time of submission. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Letter of Intent applications

The Letter of Intent (LOI) must be submitted through the Arthritis Society’s online research grants portal and include the following:

  • Project team description: PI, Co-PIs, co-applicants, additional authors, collaborators and partners, consumers, as applicable (Max. 250 words)
  • Scientific abstract (Max. 500 words)
  • Project proposal (Max. 1500 words)
  • References (Max. 32,000 characters)
  • Relevance of the proposal to the Arthritis Society’s Research Theme I: Improving our understanding of arthritis and finding the cure (Max. 250 words)
  • Lay summary sections (Max. 100 -150 words each)
  • Appendices (Max. 5MB per PDF document)
  • Names of suggested reviewers and exclusions

Only the strongest applications will be invited to submit full applications.  All applicants will be notified of the results of the LOI review in mid-June 2019.

Full Application

Applications must be submitted through the Arthritis Society’s online research grants portal and include the following components:

  • Scientific Abstract (Max. 500 words)
  • Project description (Max. 4,500 words), including:
    • A detailed scientific proposal clearly stating the aims of the project including any previous work done in the area, experimental design, methods and analysis.
    • Details of the investigator(s) including which member(s) of the research team will be responsible for which aspect of the project and a rationale for their inclusion in the project are required, as well as a description of the research environment where the work will take place.
  • References (Max. 32,000 characters)
  • Relevance of the proposal to the Arthritis Society Research Theme I: Improving our understanding of arthritis and finding the cure (Max. 250 words)
  • Project team description (Max. 250 words)
  • Lay summary section (Max. 100-150 words each)
  • Knowledge translation plan section (Max. 250 words each)
  • Proposed budget and budget justification (Max. 1500 words)

Required attachments

  • Signature page (signed by the PI, Department Head/Dean and Host Institution(s))
  • PI, Co-PI and co-applicant CVs (Canadian Common CV – CIHR Project Biosketch version)
  • Timelines and Milestones (1 page, PDF upload)
  • Letter(s) of support from collaborators, partners and consumers, as needed
    • If the success of the research proposed depends on a critical agent/material from a third party, a letter of collaboration must be included

Optional attachments

  • Appendices (Max. 5MB per document)

Any significant changes to the proposed program, environment after the LOI deadline should be communicated to the Arthritis Society, [email protected], as soon as they are known. Substantive changes that significantly alter the overall goals and aims of the proposed project relative to the LOI are not permitted.

Review Criteria

The review criteria for applications will include, but not necessarily be restricted to the following:

1.   Quality of PI and the research team

  • Qualifications of the applicant(s), including training, experience and independence (i.e. relative to career stage)
  • Experience of the applicant(s) in the proposed area of research and with the proposed methodology
  • Expertise of the applicant(s), as demonstrated by scientific productivity over the past five years (e.g. publications, books, grants held, etc.). Productivity should be considered in the context of the norms for the research area, applicant experience and total research funding of the applicant.
  • Evidence that the personnel, facilities and infrastructure required to conduct the research are available

2.    Quality of project

  • Scientific merit of the project and its potential to create new knowledge, significantly advance our understanding of arthritis, and/or improve care or support for people affected by arthritis
  • Importance and novelty of the research question, proposed project and objectives
  • Strength of the rationale for the research approach and methodology
  • Knowledge translation plan
  • Appropriateness of term and support requested

3.    Relevance of the proposal to arthritis and to the following Research Strategic Theme
It is the applicant’s responsibility to make convincing arguments supporting the relevance of their proposals to the Arthritis Society’s Strategic Theme I: Improving our understanding of arthritis and finding the cure.

The consumer reviewer’s role is to assess the feasibility and potential impact of the research to address an important problem, for the research results to have significant and broad impact and of contributing to the understanding of arthritis and/or how to treat or improve outcomes for people who live with arthritis, as well as to assess the quality of the lay sections.

Applicants will be notified of the results by mid-December 2019.

Multiple applications/multiple sources of funding

The onus is on the applicant to indicate the extent (or absence) of overlap.  Funding overlaps with other agencies may result in a reduction in funding from the Arthritis Society.

Grantee and Host Institution requirements

In addition to the requirements set out in the Host Institution agreement, grantees and Host Institutions who receive Arthritis Society funds are expected to act as ambassadors of our mission and may be called upon to communicate about their research with donors and other stakeholders. Funded researchers are expected to support the Arthritis Society’s efforts to engage the arthritis research community, support the development and dissemination of Arthritis Society tools and resources, and provide expertise to engage people affected by arthritis when called upon (for example, through expert community presentations).  We also encourage grantees and Host Institutions to reach out to us to discuss opportunities for engagement.

Applicants are reminded to access the Arthritis Society website for details on the administration and reporting requirements (scientific and financial reporting, policies, etc.)