Stars Career Development Award

Stars Career Development Award

Online Research Grants Portal open: April 1, 2024
Abstract registration deadline: May 15, 2024, 5:00 PM ET 
Research Grants Portal open for full application: May 17, 2024
Full Application deadline: June 26, 2024, 5:00 PM ET
Notification of decision: Early/Mid-December 2024
Funding start date: April 1, 2025 (updated)

Please see the eligibility and requirements section prior to creating an application and read through the Tips Sheet for Applicants and Application Form Template below. A sample of the application form can also be found in Apply

Resources available: 

Tips Sheet for Applicants [279 KB]

Application Form Template  


The Stars Career Development award was created to help firmly establish the career of early career investigators. This salary and research funding represents a three (3) year commitment by Arthritis Society Canada, together with an additional three (3) year commitment by the applicant’s Host Institution. The program provides funding to support research programs aligned with Arthritis Society Canada's 2020-2025 Research Strategy. Arthritis Society Canada will be accepting applications relevant to five research priority areas: arthritis pain, OA, IA, childhood, and work.

The program is intended to promote creativity in all domains of arthritis-related research responsive to Arthritis Society Canada’s strategic priorities. Applicants should review Arthritis Society Canada’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025: Accelerating Impact - Research Strategy which aims to identify research avenues that focus on areas of highest priority to patients and achieve the highest levels of scientific excellence and rigour.  Applications must focus on innovative research efforts in the following priority areas.

  • Arthritis pain research in:

    • Improving our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of pain

    • Translating basic science discoveries into practice

    • Improving techniques to measure pain

    • Developing new and more personalized treatment approaches

    • Alternative approaches to pain management including research on medical cannabis from basic science, clinical, health services and policy perspectives

    • Improving self-management tools and technology enablers to help manage and communicate about pain

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) research in:

    • Improving our understanding of what cause different forms of OA, including the underlying biological mechanisms and how the disease progresses

    • Understand sex and gender differences in patients with OA

    • Developing new and more personalized treatment approaches

    • Developing more effective self-management tools

    • Improving health services and systems

    • Reducing health disparities in vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations

  • Inflammatory arthritis (IA) research in:

    • Improving our understanding of what causes different forms of IA, including the underlaying biological mechanisms and how the disease progresses

    • Developing new and more personalized treatment approaches

    • Improving strategies to manage symptoms

    • Developing more effective methods to support patient-physician communications

    • Improving health services and systems

    • Reducing health disparities in vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations

  • Childhood arthritis research in:

    • Improving our understanding of what causes childhood arthritis, how to detect it earlier, and diagnose it most effectively

    • Developing new and more personalized therapies that are safe and effective

    • Innovations to improve transitions in care as children navigate from pediatric to adult healthcare settings and improve unique quality of life issues through other life changes (e.g., education, employment)

  • Work-related research in:

    • Providing a strong evidence base to inform arthritis-related workplace policies and accommodations

    • Ensuring that employees and employers have effective tools and resources to communicate how to manage chronic conditions in the workplace

    • The prevention of workplace disability and the most effective accommodations

Consumer Engagement
Arthritis Society Canada values the voice of consumers in research, both in their inclusion in grant applications and the peer review process.  Applicants should consider this in their submission and are strongly encouraged to integrate input from consumers in the development of research questions and/or design as appropriate. Productive engagement of consumers in the conduct, analysis and/or dissemination of the research should be described, where appropriate. Please note that the review panel will take into consideration whether consumers are involved and to what extent. For more information on consumer engagement, you can download Arthritis Society Canada’s resource for researchers or visit our Get Involved in Research page.

Sex and Gender
Applicants should account for sex as a biological variable and/or gender as a sociocultural determinant of health in basic science, clinical, health service and population health studies where appropriate.  Applicants will be required to articulate this within their application. Sex and Gender in Health research resources and training modules can be accessed here.

Host Institution Commitment*

In addition to the terms and obligations set out within the Host Institution agreement, the Host Institution must commit, as part of the application process, an additional three (3) years of equivalent research and salary support to the applicant (at an appropriate rank and salary) for a total commitment of six (6) years of support. If there is rationale for a different funding model (equal to the same level of support required by the host institution), please contact  Arthritis Society Canada before starting your application. The Host Institution must also commit to providing the applicant with adequate infrastructure and physical space to conduct their research program. The incremental benefit of the salary portion of the award must be clearly indicated in the application to ensure that there is a net impact for the funded investigator, rather than a budgetary offset to the Host Institution.

In addition, applicants must identify an accomplished investigator as a mentor who will assist in the development of the research program as well as the career development of the applicant. It is preferred that the mentor be in the same institution as the applicant but if that is not possible, a clear rationale for the chosen mentor and details of the nature and frequency of the interactions must be provided. Applicants must provide rationale if they are remaining in the same institution as their PhD and/or PhD supervisor.

All applicants are strongly advised to read all program documentation listed below as well as Arthritis Society Canada’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025: Accelerating Impact - Research Strategy. If you have any questions, please contact the research department.


To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • Be an eligible Principal Investigator as defined by Arthritis Society Canada;

  • Be within 5 years of their first academic appointment and within 10 years of their most recent graduate or health professional degree (or equivalent, in a field such as medicine, dentistry, rehabilitation sciences, nursing, pharmaceutical studies, veterinary medicine, etc.) at the time of the application deadline. Candidates who have a firm offer of an academic appointment effective before the award start date are also acceptable;

  • Be a Canadian citizen or resident of Canada at the time of application with a position at an eligible Canadian Host Institution;

  • Have a commitment from their Host Institution* from the Faculty Dean or Research Director that includes: Institutional support (suitable lab/research space, resources and support, etc.); a minimum of 80% protected research time for the duration of the award; 3 additional years of equivalent research and salary support (at an appropriate rank and salary beyond the term of this award) as well as adequate infrastructure and physical space;

  • Not hold other funding support of a similar nature and goals (i.e., recipients of salary awards and operating grants aimed at establishing their research program and/or advancing their career development as of the funding start date are not eligible to apply). These include, but are not limited to, Canada Research Chair awards, province-specific establishment grants, early career institutional chair awards and early career investigator operating grants.

  • Additional information is available in this FAQ.

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

Award Amount and Term

Our research funding is always contingent on the generosity of our donors. 

The maximum award per application for early career investigators is $125,000 annually for up to three years ($375,000 total), with an additional 3 years of support from the Host Institution of an equal value.

These awards are meant to primarily support the salary of the individual, therefore:

  • At least $50,000 per year must be used for salary support in order to provide protected research time, except where it exceeds the institution salary scale;

  • The remaining amount of the award is to be used for research and support of their program of research (e.g., research expenses including pilot study data collection, research personnel, supplies, and/or equipment, travel to scientific conferences, etc.).  

Requested research costs must be associated with the applicant’s described research program and/or be well aligned in terms of the requirements for a specific project. In cases where the value of the teaching and other duties are less than the salary portion of this award, the Host Institution must ensure this award benefits the awardee through other means (e.g., travel allowance, access to research staff or support, etc.).

Please see the requirement for the Host Institution commitment above*. Equipment requests of up to $10,000 can be included within the proposed budget and must be appropriately justified. Note that indirect costs, the salaries for supervisor/mentors, secretarial or administrative assistants or tuition fees are not eligible expenses.

Abstract Registration

There is a limit of one Star application per Principal Investigator in a competition.

NOTE! A PI can only hold two Arthritis Society Canada-funded grants or awards across all Arthritis Society Canada or partnered competitions as PI/Co-PI at any time. PI/Co-PIs can apply to only two competitions per year. Applications for subsequent funding can be submitted in the final year of Arthritis Society Canada funding of a current grant. Applicants will be required to declare all funding in the "Other Funding" section of their application(s). 

All submissions will be screened for completeness and eligibility. Note that incomplete applications by the deadline will be deemed ineligible and withdrawn from the competition. 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.

All applicants are strongly advised to read all program documentation listed below. If you have any questions, please contact the research department at

Abstract registrations must be submitted through Arthritis Society Canada’s online research grant portal. The abstract registration will inform the panel composition. Registration is mandatory and will require applicant and mentor details, the applicant's CV, scientific abstract, keywords, relevance statement, and suggested reviewers and exclusions.

Any significant changes to the proposed program, environment or mentor after the Abstract Registration deadline should be communicated to Arthritis Society Canada as soon as they are known. Substantive changes that significantly alter the overall goals and aims of the proposed program relative to the Abstract Registration are not permitted.

Full Application

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

  • Research program abstract (Max 500 words)

  • Research program description (Max. 4,000 words), including:

    • Previous training and research experience

    • Rationale for the research program and methodologies employed

    • Rationale for selection of the mentor (additional details on working relationship is required if at a different institution from the applicant)

    • A description of the research environment, including resources and facilities available to the applicant and a brief description of the specific dedicated research space.

    • A description of the research career education and training opportunities that will be accessed during the grant award period

  • Relevance of the applicant's research program to Arthritis Society Canada’s 2020-2025 Research Strategy priority areas (Max. 250 words)

  • References 

  • Description of teaching (and other institutional) commitments current and proposed as well as the benefits/impact of this award to the developing career of the candidate  (Max. 250 words per section)

  • Lay summary sections (Max. 150 words per section)

  • Knowledge translation sections (Max. 250 words per section)

  • Budget and budget justification (Max. 1000 words)

Required attachments

  • Signature page (signed by the candidate, Department Head and Host Institution)

  • PI and mentor(s) CVs (Canadian Common CV - CIHR Project Biosketch)  

  • Timeline and milestones (1 page diagram/chart)

  • Three letters of support, including one from the applicant’s mentor(s) outlining the career mentorship plan  

  • Letter of support from the Faculty Dean or Research Director of the Host Institution confirming:

    • Institutional support (suitable lab/research space, resources, and support, etc.)

    • A minimum of 80% protected research time

    • Details of the Host Institution’s offer of 3 additional years of equivalent research and salary support (at an appropriate rank and salary beyond the term of this award) *See note above.

Optional attachments

  • Appendices (Max. 5 MB per document)

Peer Review

One or more multidisciplinary peer review committees will be assembled to review the applications. The peer review committee(s) will consist of scientific experts and clinical with broad expertise, along with consumers to provide patient perspectives. It is important that applicants devote time to write the lay summary sections. 

Review Criteria

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

  1. Quality of the Principal Investigator and research environment

    • Applicant’s research experience as well as academic and publication record (i.e., relative to career stage)

    • Strength of the CVs and letters of support

    • Suitability of the research environment

    • Strength and appropriateness of the mentor as well as the career educational program objectives and plan

    • Evidence that the personnel, facilities, and infrastructure required to conduct the research are available

    • Potential value (in protected time for research) to the applicant and potential impact of the award on the applicant's career path and of the applicant becoming a leader in arthritis research in Canada

    • Quality of the commitment of the Host Institution to provide protected time and research support funds

  2. Quality of research program

    • Scientific merit of the arthritis research program and its potential to create new knowledge, significantly advance our understanding of arthritis, and/or improve care or support for people affected by arthritis

    • Feasibility of the proposed research program as a whole as well as for a specific project, if proposed

    • Knowledge translation plan

    • Consumer engagement plan, as appropriate

    • Sex and gender considerations within your research program

    • Appropriateness of the term and support requested

  3. Relevance of the research program to the  2020-2025 Arthritis Society Canada Research Strategy.  

It is the applicant’s responsibility to make convincing arguments supporting the relevance of their proposal to Arthritis Society Canada’s Research Strategy, specifically one or more of the five research priority areas (arthritis pain, OA, IA, childhood, and work).  More details can be found in the Accelerating Impact: Research Strategy.

The role of the consumer is to assess the feasibility, relevance to the strategic priorities and potential impact of the research to address an important problem, have significant and broad impact and its contribution to the understanding of arthritis and/or how to treat or improve outcomes for people who live with arthritis. Consumer reviewers also assess the quality of the lay sections.

Multiple applications/multiple sources of funding

Successful applicants cannot hold salary awards or operating grants aimed at establishing their research program and/or advancing their career development as of the funding start date.

There should be minimal or no overlap with other funding for the research portion of the award. The onus is on the applicant to indicate the extent (or absence) of overlap in the "Other Funding" section of their application. Funding overlaps with other agencies may result in a reduction in funding from Arthritis Society Canada.  

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 Canada 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 Arthritis Society Canada’s efforts to engage the arthritis research community, support the development and dissemination of Arthritis Society Canada 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 Canada website for details on the administration and reporting requirements (scientific and financial reporting, policies, etc.).