Merit Award

The application cycle for the 2024-2026 Merit Awards is now open!

Please read this webpage carefully to learn more about the program and to apply.

What is the Merit Award?

As part of its commitment to support and nurture research activities among our clinical faculty members, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Toronto has instituted a Merit Award program for faculty members.

Our vision is to support clinicians in maximizing the productivity of their protected academic time. This protected time enables clinicians to focus on their research activities as well as the pursuit of further resources (whether from within the University of Toronto system or through external granting agencies) in support of their research program.

The duration of the award is two years, with the application process taking place biennially, in the spring of even-numbered calendar years. New awards are then paid out starting July 1, 2024.

Merit Awards consist of funds from the University of Toronto Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, matched at a rate of 100% by hospital department chiefs and/or practice plans. This amounts to a total of $60,000 per annum for a full day per week of protected academic time, or $30,000 per annum for a half day per week of protected academic time. 

  • Clinician Scientist (CS) or Clinician Investigator (CI): one day of protected academic time per week
  • Clinician Quality Improvement (CQI): one day or half day of protected academic time per week
  • Clinician Educator (CE): one day or half day of protected academic time per week

Please note that in some cases, particularly with Clinician Scientists, the above funding may comprise only one part of the total package negotiated at the hospital. Hospitals are welcome to increase support for salary and research expenses beyond the 100% match commitment for the Merit Award.

Am I eligible for a Merit Award?

To be considered for funding, the applicant must fulfil the following requirements:

  • Faculty based at fully affiliated hospital sites must hold a full-time clinical (MD) faculty appointment at the University of Toronto, with a primary affiliation in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
  • Faculty based at community-affiliated hospital sites must hold either a full-time or a part-time clinical (MD) faculty appointment at the University of Toronto, with a primary affiliation in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
  • All applicants must hold an academic rank of at least Assistant Professor as of July 1, the start date of the award.
    • Individuals who do not meet the above appointment and rank criteria will only be considered in certain circumstances: The applicant has already submitted a completed application to the Departmental Appointments Committee for an eligible University appointment as described above. This includes faculty members who have signed a hospital job offer starting in calendar year 2024 and whose University appointment is therefore still in process.
  • The applicant must demonstrate a commitment in writing from their hospital chief certifying that the matching funds will be available for the full period of the award.
  • The applicant must hold a University academic position description aligned to their relevant research category (CI, CQI, CE, CS). Applicants currently holding a clinician teacher job description may apply, but if successful they will be required to formalize the relevant reclassified job description at both the hospital and the University before the funds will be paid out.

Applicants should note the following:

  • Current recipients of a New Faculty Award that expires on June 30, 2024 are eligible to apply for a Merit Award, to provide seamless matched Hospital-University stipend support for their evolving research program, commencing July 1, 2024.
  • Current recipients of a two-year Merit Award expiring on June 30, 2024 are encouraged to apply for a new award, so long as they continue to attract hospital-level funding and continue with a CS, CI, CQI, or CE job description.

Ineligibility for funding:

  • An individual whose annual hospital-based personal funding (for any responsibilities, including administration) meets or exceeds the Department standard of $60,000/year is deemed ineligible to apply, since the intent of the matching program is to create equity for faculty members who wish to focus on their academic interests.

Some senior faculty members hold a significantly funded hospital or university leadership position (including but not limited to chiefs and division heads). Such individuals typically hold the academic position description of Clinician Administrator. The purpose of the Merit Award matching program is to foster career development for emerging and mid-career clinician-researchers, especially those who possess grant funding as principal investigators. For this reason, the Merit Award pathway is not compatible with a career focus in administration.

Senior faculty members who hold a hospital chair (fixed-term or endowed) may apply so long as their funding program does not include salary support that meets or exceeds the Department standard of $60,000 per annum for one day per week of protected time. The chief’s support letter should declare the full terms of their chair award.

How do I apply for a Merit Award?

Please review this information before accessing the application form. The application form requires:

  1. Basic information about the applicant and their research program
  2. Certification of hospital-level funding
  3. A CIHR common CV, or an abbreviated CV reflecting research-related activities in the past five years

***No other documentation is required.***

Information about your research will include the following:

1. Lay Abstract

Limit: 2,000 characters, including spaces.

Provide a brief overview of your overall research program suitable for the lay public. If selected for funding, this overview will be posted on the Department website along with your approved professional photograph, and may be used in other departmental communications, such as our annual reports. By submitting this application, you agree to the publication of this abstract on the Department website along with your approved professional photograph.

2. Significance of Contributions to Date

Limit: 3,500 characters, including spaces.

Provide a succinct summary of your relevant work to date, conveying its significance to the field. Include any evidence of impact (e.g. publication metrics, inclusion in guidelines, knowledge translation materials, other evidence of change in practice), if available. Indicate how your published and current work to date informs your proposed research program.

3. Research Concept

Limit: 4,000 characters, including spaces.

Articulate the planned program of research (not one specific project) by outlining the overall goal, specific objectives (up to three) and components of each objective. Outline the short-term (this funding cycle of two years) and longer-term (five years hence) potential impact of your proposal. Applicants are encouraged to reflect upon the questions being asked of adjudicators when completing this section:

  • Are the goal and objectives of the proposed program well-defined and articulated?
  • Are the research questions important and the work innovative?
  • Is the proposal likely to achieve additional funding (to support trainees and/or operating costs)?
  • Is the proposal likely to advance health-related knowledge and/or its translation into improved health care, health systems and/or health outcomes, or enhance the educational approaches for trainees?

4. Research Approach and Strategy

Limit: 4,000 characters, including spaces.

Articulate the research approach (i.e., how you will deliver on the objectives of the program of research). You are not expected to provide extensive details on established methodologies; however, you should appropriately describe novel/innovative approaches. A detailed research design and study-by-study plan is not expected. Clearly delineate your current operational funding (research expendables and/or trainees, support staff) and your proposed strategies to secure additional operational funding (i.e. internal or external to your Hospital or Research Institute) that you need to manage your research program.

5. Relevant Grants and Publications in the Past Five years

Limit: 5,000 characters, including spaces

In the space provided, please provide information (title, role, agency, funding duration and amount) on any relevant grant funding that you have secured, including any recently-expired funding within the past five years. Please provide the citations of your relevant published literature (as appearing in PubMed).

6. Leaves of absence in the past five years

7. Plan for the work week

8. Curriculum vitae

A CIHR common CV, or an abbreviated CV reflecting research-related activities in the past five years. By including both in-press papers and manuscripts submitted for publication, the reviewers will gain an impression of the current momentum of your work.

9. Matching hospital funding

You will need to upload a signed letter in PDF format from your hospital chief certifying that matching funds will be available for the two-year period.

10. References

Add a PDF file of any references you may have.

Merit Award 2022-2024 Winners

  • Geneviève Bouchard-Fortier
  • Sarah Ferguson
  • Lilian Gien
  • Patricia Lee
  • Nucelio Lemos
  • A. Kinga Malinowski
  • Taymaa May
  • Nir Melamed
  • Ally Murji
  • Ori Nevo
  • Stefania Ronzoni
  • Lindsay Shirreff
  • Andrea Simpson
  • John Snelgrove
  • Tim van Mieghem
  • Danielle Vicus

Past winners of the Merit Award

Merit Awards

Name

Title

Award timeline

Affiliation

Marcus Bernardini

A. Novel intraoperative detection of malignancy and novel classification and treatment for endometrial cancer.

B. Reducing ovarian cancer mortality through risk stratification and prevention

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

Mount Sinai Hospital

Anne Berndl

A. Pregnancy and Women with Physical Disabilities

B. Increasing Vaginal Birth through the use of High Volume Foley Catheters for Cervical Ripening

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Crystal Chan

Elucidating the molecular dialogue between endometrium and embryo at the time of implantation to improve in vitro fertilization outcomes

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

Mount Sinai Hospital

Rohan D'Souza

Engaging pregnant women and other stakeholders in the development of core-outcome sets for studies on high-risk pregnancies: a mixed-methods study

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2022

Mount Sinai Hospital

Sarah Ferguson

Targeting the Immune Microenvironment of Microsatellite Instable Non-Serous Ovarian Carcinoma

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

Mount Sinai Hospital

Nucelio Lemos

Improving Diagnosis and Surgical Care in Intrapelvic Nerve Entrapments

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

Women's College Hospital

Ann Malinowski

Haematology in Pregnancy Research Program

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

Mount Sinai Hospital

Taymaa May

Whole genome and transcriptome sequencing to improve personalized care of women with ovarian low grade serous carcinoma

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

University Health Network

Nir Melamed

Investigating the pathophysiologic basis and optimal management of preterm birth, fetal growth, preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications in twin gestations.

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2022

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

New Faculty Awards (formerly Junior Faculty Awards)

This award is for individuals who are in the first three years of their career at a UofT affiliated hospital.

Name

TITLE

AWARD TIMELINE

Affiliation

Stefania Ronzoni

Endotoxin: a novel biomarker to detect intrauterine infection as a cause of spontaneous preterm birth 

July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2020

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Eliane Shore

Enhancing Surgical Performance Through Simulation and Technology

July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2020

St. Michael's Hospital

Andrea Simpson

Minimally invasive gynaecologic surgery, endometrial hyperplasia and malignancy, and other topics in health services research

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2022

St. Michael's Hospital

John Snelgrove

Reproductive, perinatal, and mental health outcomes following severe maternal morbidity

July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2022

Mount Sinai Hospital

Tim Van Mieghem

Advancing diagnosis and treatment for fetuses with central nervous system anomalies

July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2020

Mount Sinai Hospital