Catalyst and research development grant program — call for proposals

About the Institute for Pandemics

The Institute for Pandemics (IfP) brings together transformative researchers and educators from across disciplines and around the world to address the complex, global public health challenges posed by pandemics. Our work centers around three pillars: ‘readiness’ to prevent and track evolving pandemics; ‘resilience’ of health systems and communities, and to improve public health policies and interventions; and equitable ‘recovery’ to reduce health disparities in pandemics, and to build back stronger and more fairly. Situated in Canada’s leading school of public health, IfP serves as a knowledge nexus informing public health responses, helping to strengthen systems, and equip future health leaders with a multi-faceted skillset to combat pandemics and epidemics.

Purpose of the catalyst grants

The IfP catalyst and development grants aim to provide seed funding to help U of T researchers, from multiple disciplines, connect and collaborate on projects related to pandemic readiness, resilience, and recovery. This grant program aims to provide seed funding to support collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects (e.g., development, proof-of-concept, data access, pilot studies to generate data) which represent a step towards the pursuit of more comprehensive applications to external funding opportunities. This open call is the first of IfP’s two-phase grant program.

Successful applicants in this Phase will be given priority consideration for the Phase 2 grant program, as well as the upcoming knowledge translation and mobilization funding schemes. IfP will work with and support applicants to amplify their research, enhance knowledge mobilization, and facilitate cross discipline collaboration through its platforms.

Catalyst grant information

Amount of funding available

Total funding of $525,000 (up to $25,000 per award)

Number of grants to be awarded

Expecting to award 21 grants in total; 6 of which will be joint awards from the IfP-EPIC Catalyst Grant program.

Grant duration

One-year from start of funding date

Research areas to address

IfP seeks proposals that address the three research themes: pandemic readiness, resilience, and recovery. The questions below note the priority areas of research for this grant call. Proposed projects can be specific to a single research theme or cross-cutting multiple themes. Proposals must consider equity, diversity, and inclusion, and highlight potential for knowledge mobilization and engagement (e.g., public health, government, health system, community and private sectors).  

Pandemic readiness

1. What are the health economic arguments and data gaps around "all hazards" approaches to mitigation of current and future indoor airborne infectious disease threats?

2. What are the epidemiological, governance, scientific and ethical tools we can use to balance the benefits of research on potential pandemic pathogens (PPP), and the risks associated with gain of function and engineered PPP (ePPP)?

3. What are informational tools and approaches that can be used or developed to protect against disinformation in future pandemics?

Pandemic resilience

1. What health system strategies, levers or polices will strengthen pandemic resilience?

2. How and what can we learn from the public health, economic and health system decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic?

3. What are the mechanisms to strengthen public communication, community engagement, transparency of decision making, and public trust?

Pandemic recovery

1.  What are the broader health and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic? (e.g., mental health, access to care, social and economic disruption)

2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected equity-deserving communities with respect to these broader impacts?

3. What policies, strategies and interventions can be developed to drive an equitable recovery and reduce the broader health and societal impacts of pandemics?


IfP Catalyst grants

Principal applicants must be tenure-stream faculty, eligible to hold research funding and have a primary appointment at U of T

IfP-EPIC Catalyst grants

Principal applicants must be tenure-stream faculty and eligible to hold research funding at U of T or hold a primary appointment at one of the five partner hospitals of the Emerging & Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC). At least one investigator (PI or Co-I) needs to be a member of EPIC.

About EPIC: “EPIC brings together researchers from different disciplines, across 6 partnered research institutions, to facilitate an integrated and innovative response to high-risk, high-burden infectious diseases. As Canada’s leading initiative for transformative infectious disease research, EPIC is linking academic researchers with industry and government partners, training the next generation of research leaders and advocating for science-based policies.”

Both streams

  • Applicants must be members of the Institute for Pandemics.
  • The team must include investigators from at least two distinct disciplines
    • Preference for team members from different Faculties/Divisions
    • Preference for teams comprising more than one U of T campus
  • IfP encourages applicants to include trainees on the research team, including undergraduates
  • Each applicant can only be a principal applicant on one application

Important dates

  • Call for applications – March 21, 2023
  • Deadline to submit applications (through the online system) – May 3, 2023
  • Anticipated notice of award – June 30, 2023
  • Funding start date – July 17, 2023


All applications must be submitted using the online submission form by 11:59 pm ET on April 30, 2023.

A template of the application form is attached here.

NOTE: Applications submitted by email will not be accepted.

Demographic data collection

Principal Applicants are asked to complete an optional EDI Survey after submitting their application. The purpose of the survey is to collect data for the Institute to reflect on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion practices in the catalyst grant program. The data will only be collected and held by the Associate Director of IfP and shared internally as de-identified, aggregated information to inform the review committee.


Applications will be evaluated by the IfP reviewers using a scoring rubric. Applicants are encouraged to review the rubric prior to preparing/submitting their application. After scoring, the reviewers will meet to discuss the overall scores and decide on awards that reflect representation by gender and diversity, as well as the university’s three campuses. Applications led by early career researchers will be considered advantageous.

Reporting requirements

  • Interim progress report due 6 months after funding starts
  • Final summary and impact report due 2 months after the end of funding
  • Principal applicant may be invited to present research at an IfP Symposium, webinar, or seminar, or to IfP partner(s), at any point during the research process, with the aim to facilitate interdisciplinary academic exchange and partnerships.


  1. Why are there two tracks of application?
    Each ISI is unique in its structure and composition, and there could be limitations in engaging a full spectrum of interested researchers. To broaden the scope and engagement in pandemic related public health, epidemiology and health policy research, the IfP and EPIC ISIs are partnering to create a track that will allow a broader base of eligible investigators to access seed funding support. More details of the IfP-EPIC catalyst grant can be found here (the EPIC website)
  2. How do I become a member of IfP?
    Complete the short online form to become a member.
  3. May I be a co-applicant on an application as an outside (non-UofT) researcher, so long as a UofT faculty member is the principal applicant?
    Yes, we welcome inclusion, partnerships and collaboration. However, we are not able to award funds directly to members of other institutions.
  4. Are students or postdoctoral fellows able to apply for the catalyst grants?
    Students or postdoctoral fellows are not able to apply as principal applicants but are encouraged to be listed as co-applicants on the research team.
  5. Should applications incorporate equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) practices and approaches in their applications?
    As EDI is a cross-cutting theme for all research activities at IfP, applicants are required to incorporate EDI practices into their project design, and is included in the evaluation criteria. For guidance and best practices for incorporating EDI into your research, review the handbook created by the Office of VPRI.  
  6. What expenses are eligible for the catalyst grants?
    Funds can be used to support postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, undergraduate project student assistant(s) or research staff, honorariums, reimbursement for purchasing of data, software, and other eligible research expenses (U of T’s Guide to Financial Management). These must be clearly stated in the application.


Questions pertaining to the Catalyst Grant Program can be sent to Tedd Konya, Associate Director

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