Strategic Operating Grants

Request for Applications – Strategic Operating Grants

Online Research Grants Portal open: February 26, 2024
Letters of Intent (LOI) submission deadline: April 9, 2024 5:00 PM ET
Notification of LOI results: early-July 2024
Online Research Grants Portal open: July 15, 2024
Full Application submission deadline: September 1, 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 Templates below. A sample of the application form can be also found in Apply

Resources available: 

Tips Sheet for Applicants [279 KB]

LOI Application Form Template (Full application template will be available in July)


The Strategic Operating Grant (SOG) program provides funding to support research proposals aligned with Arthritis Society Canada's priorities. Arthritis Society Canada’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025: Accelerating Impact - Research Strategy 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 here  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.

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


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 Arthritis Society Canada.

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 grant per application is $150,000 annually for up to three years ($450,000 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. One or more multidisciplinary peer review committee(s) will be assembled to review the LOIs and full applications. The peer review committee(s) 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. 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

There is a limit of one SOG application per Principal Investigator/Co-Principal Investigator in a competition.

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

The Letter of Intent (LOI) must be submitted through Arthritis Society Canada’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. 400 words)

  • Scientific abstract (Max. 500 words)

  • Project proposal (Max. 1500 words)

  • References 

  • Relevance of the proposal to one or more of the Arthritis Society’s priority areas (Max. 250 words)

  • Lay summary sections (Max. 150 words each)

  • Appendices (Max. 5MB per PDF document)

  • Names of suggested reviewers and exclusions

Please note that HI signatures are not required at the LOI stage. 

Only the strongest applications will be invited to submit full applications.  All applicants will be notified of the results of the LOI review in July 2024.

Full Application

Applications must be submitted through Arthritis Society’ Canada'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, as well as the role of consumers.

  • References 

  • Relevance of the proposal to Arthritis Society Canada's Research Strategy priority areas (Max. 250 words)

  • Project team description (Max. 400 words)

  • Lay summary sections (Max. 150 words each)

  • Knowledge translation plan sections (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 Biosketch version - CIHR-issued PIN required)

  • 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 or environment after the LOI 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 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

  • Consumer Engagement plan, as appropriate

  • Sex and/or gender considerations within the project

  • Appropriateness of term and support requested

3.    Relevance of the proposal to the 2020-2025 Arthritis Society Canada's Research Strategy
It is the applicant’s responsibility to make convincing arguments supporting the relevance of their proposals 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, to have a 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 will also assess the quality of the lay sections.

Applicants will be notified of the results in December 2024.

Multiple applications/multiple sources of funding

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.).