Data and Sample Mining (DM) or Research Models (RM)

Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for Health & Life Sciences

Publication date:

Applications due:

Table of contents

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. AO OBJECTIVES
  3. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
  4. APPLICATIONS
  5. EVALUATION
  6. FUNDING
  7. FUNDING AGREEMENTS
  8. PRIVACY NOTICE STATEMENT
  9. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

ANNEX 1

ANNEX 2

Important dates:

Summary of Key Information

Eligible Recipients:

Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions

Funding Type: Grants

Maximum amount per grant: two funding categories:

  • Topic 1 (Data and Sample mining (DM)): up to $70,000 for a maximum duration of one (1) year.
  • Topic 2 (Research Model (RM)): up to $150,000 for a maximum duration of two (2) years.

1 INTRODUCTION

In the future, human exploration of space is expected to extend beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to the orbit and surface of the Moon, and ultimately to distant targets such as Mars. The resulting expeditions will require extended periods of exposure to weightlessness and space radiation, with confinement and isolation in the extreme environment of space, all of which are linked to substantial health and performance risks.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is interested in human spaceflight and maintains a highly qualified Canadian astronaut corps capable of participating in space exploration missions. Also, in support of the vision and priorities of the new Space Strategy for Canada, the CSA aims to enable scientific opportunities and global partnerships, and to harness space to solve everyday challenges for Canadians.

To achieve this, the CSA's Health and Life Sciences (HLS) group conducts activities to generate knowledge in fields that sustain human space flights, mitigate health risks and develop countermeasures for those missions. Since time and resources on the International Space Station (ISS) are limited, CSA aims to broaden science opportunities in order to enhance and supplement flight investigations on the ISS and to optimize utilization of CSA ISS resource allocation.

The intent of this Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is to provide financial support to researchers at Canadian Universities and post-secondary institutions to conduct science investigations that will lead to a better understanding of human spaceflight risks while contributing to improve remote medicine and health benefits here on Earth.

More specifically, this AO is divided in two different categories, as defined below:

Topic 1 (DM):

Topic 1 (DM) solicits proposals for scientific analysis, using databases or samples derived from existing collections to improve the understanding of the risks of spaceflight or for initial validation of new countermeasures. The studies selected for this Topic are expected to be precursors of Canadian investigations on the ISS or other space research platforms.

Several agencies and institutions have supported the establishment of dedicated databases and sample repositories collecting the results from space-related studies on human subjects and non-human model organisms (see Table 1 for examples of databases and repositories). These studies include investigations in space and on Earth using analogue populations or other relevant models of spaceflight. In addition to the use of publically-available datasets and repositories, researchers can also use datasets from previous flight or analogue experiments, either archived by the original investigator at his/her institution, or with an intent to obtain data or samples from the original investigator. Applicants must provide in their proposal justification of the intended use of datasets or samples, to test or generate new hypotheses regarding the effects of spaceflight on human health, or to enhance the value of existing data, through development of new insights in regard to the original datasets or samples.

Table 1: Examples of databases and sample repositories that could be used to respond to this AO Topic. This topic is not confined to these databases or sample repositories, nor will proposals using these specific databases or sample repositories be favored. Inclusion of database or sample repository here does not constitute an endorsement or guarantee access. All data and sample use implies attribution requirements (i.e. acknowledgement of the root source(s) of the data or samples).

Database or sample repository Details Access Limits
NASA GeneLab https://genelab.nasa.gov/

A comprehensive "-omics" database for space-related research utilizing both ground and space biological and radiation data

Public data accessible for immediate download and use
Genbank https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/%20

The GenBank sequence database is an open access, annotated collection of all publicly available nucleotide sequences and their protein translations.

Public data accessible for immediate download and use
Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging Data and Biospecimen (CLSA) https://www.clsa-elcv.ca/data-access/data-access-application-documents

A longitudinal study that tracks various health-related parameters in Canadians between 45-85 years old.

  • CLSA data and biospecimens can only be used by investigators affiliated with a public sector research organization
  • Research projects must have received Research Ethics Board (REB) approval prior to the release of CLSA data and/or biospecimens.
Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/help/microdata/biobank#a1

Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), the biobank is designed to produce a nationally representative cohort to facilitate the progress of new and innovative health research projects. The biobank currently holds biospecimens (blood, urine and DNA) collected from over 22,000 consenting Canadians between the ages of 3 to 79 years.

  • Researchers submit a completed application form to use CHMS biospecimens.
  • An application evaluation including a feasibility assessment and Biobank Advisory Committee review is required.

After obtaining all necessary approvals, a letter of agreement is signed between the researcher and Statistics Canada

Dryad https://datadryad.org/stash

Dryad is an international disciplinary repository of data underlying scientific and medical publications. Dryad is a curated general-purpose repository that makes data discoverable, freely reusable, and citable.

  • Public data accessible for immediate download and use
NASA Research Data Repository: Life Sciences Data Archives (LSDA) https://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/

The Program uses evidence from data collected on astronauts, as well as other supporting studies. These data are stored in the research data repository, Life Sciences Data Archive (LSDA).

All the information and procedures to request data are available in the user's guide: https://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/Request/dataRequestFAQ

NASA Medical Data Repository: Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health (LSAH) https://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/LSAH/LSAH_Home

Astronaut and flight analog subject data to support the research community. Both de-identified and possibly attributable (identifiable) may be available.

All the information and procedure to request data are available in the NASA user's guide: https://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/Request/dataRequestFAQ

It is the researchers' responsibility to secure access to required data before submitting their proposals.

Topic 2 (RM):

The focus of research to be funded under this Topic 2 (RM), will be on non-human subject research models using animals, organoids, cell culture, or microorganisms to investigate space-related health risks (identified in Table 2 in Section 3.3). The CSA encourages innovative approaches, such as synthetic biology (i.e. modification of living systems) that support health risk reduction), diagnosis or health care during space missions (prevention, detection or treatment of acute or chronic health issues, infectious disease, radiation exposure, stress, etc.). However, the core of the proposed studies must focus on living systems.

Well-designed non-human subject research model studies are valuable for improving the understanding of the risks of spaceflight or for initial validation of new countermeasures. The studies targeted in this Topic are expected to lead to countermeasures related to human spaceflight health risks, and to be precursors of Canadian investigations on the ISS or other space research platforms. In other words, there must be a solid conceptual link between the proposed work and future studies that require access to space. Proponents must also substantiate the validity of the link between the chosen experimental system(s) and human biology.

Researchers can propose research methodology relevant to weightlessness (for example: centrifuges, clinostats, rotating bioreactors) or space radiation. The costs of access and travel to facilities (e.g. purchase of clinostats or access to beam facilities for radiation studies) must be included in the applicant's budget.

This Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is consistent with the terms and conditions of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Class Grant and Contribution Program to Support Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology – Research Component.

Applicants are asked to read the following AO thoroughly before submitting their proposals. This AO was prepared to help applicants complete the application process, and outlines key elements, including mandatory criteria for eligibility, details on eligible projects and the selection process. In the event of any discrepancies between this AO and the individual funding agreements governing a project, the latter document(s) will take precedence.

2 AO OBJECTIVES

Projects selected from this CSA competition will have as their objective to increase scientific knowledge that will contribute to the efforts toward the understanding, mitigation or elimination of health risks associated with human space exploration, and to generate scientific insights that will contribute to applications on Earth.

More specifically, through this AO, the CSA seeks to:

3 ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

3.1 Eligible Recipients

Eligible recipients (beneficiaries) for grants are:

3.2 Eligible Projects

Projects eligible for funding under this AO are those wherein eligible recipients submit projects for which a Canadian researcher is the Principal Investigator (PI) for a new research project. Projects must be original initiatives presented to the CSA. Projects presented to other space agency-led selection processes are not eligible under this AO.

For Topic 1 (DM):

As described in Section 1, eligible projects will perform scientific analysis, using datasets or samples derived from existing collections to improve the understanding of the risks of spaceflight on human health (identified in Table 2 in Section 3.3) or the identification of new potential countermeasures to these risks.

For Topic 2 (RM):

As described in Section 1, eligible projects will use non-human subject research models such as animals, organoids, cell culture, or microorganisms to investigate space-related health risks (identified in Table 2 in Section 3.3) or new countermeasures to these risks. However, the core of the proposed studies must focus on living systems.

All development phases necessary for a project are eligible. Any logical breakdown or combination of these phases can constitute a funded project. However, breaking down a project into numerous phases to obtain more than the maximum grant or contribution is not allowed. Furthermore, even if the maximum funding for one project is not reached, the completion of a funded phase does not automatically guarantee funding of the remaining phases.

3.3 Links to CSA Priorities

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must be aligned with CSA priority outcomes, as stated in the - Departmental Plan: Space research and development advances science and technology. In accordance to its mandate, the activities selected must generate new knowledge and insight into the risks of human space flight to keep astronauts healthy in space (Space Strategy for Canada, ), and they must clearly be recognizable as direct precursors of future Canadian investigations on the ISS or other space research platforms. The most important health risks associated with human space flights (i.e. future long-duration human spaceflight missions) have been listed in Table 2.

In addition to the risks listed in the table below, the CSA will also consider if the activities would contribute to advance understanding of similar health issues, could contribute to improving health care for Canadians or translate to applications on Earth.

The following table presents the human space flight risks targeted by the CSA for this AO.

Table 2 - Eligible Human Space Flight Risks
Musculoskeletal Mission risk resulting from reduced muscle strength and aerobic capacity, and increased bone fragility
Sensorimotor Mission risks resulting from sensory changes/dysfunctions
Metabolism Mission risks associated with metabolism and the effects of nutrient composition of diet on health during space missions
Behavioural Health and Performance Mission behavioural health and performance risks, for example, associated with psychological adaptation, stress and fatigue, cognitive deterioration or issues with team dynamics
Radiation Mission risk due to health and performance impairment associated with radiation damage
Variable Gravity and Planetary-Lunar Missions Mission risks associated with physiological adaptation (including Space Associated Neuro-optical Syndrome) during transit (i.e. long duration exposure to microgravity) and sojourn on planetary surfaces. Note that physiological adaptation includes adaptation of human-associated microbial communities. Other risks can be associated with planetary exploration and can include, for instance exposure to dust.

3.4 Links to the Class G&C Program Objectives

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must contribute to the achievement of at least one of the following objectives:

4 APPLICATIONS

4.1 Required Documentation

Required documentation can be uploaded electronically or sent by mail.

The application must include the following:

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the application complies with all relevant federal, provincial and territorial legislation and municipal bylaws (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal).

The application, uploaded electronically or sent by mail (signed original and electronic version on a USB flash drive), must be prepared as a single PDF-formatted file containing all of the above requested documents with all security features disabled. Please order the document with the application form and proposal first. The proposal and supporting documents must be included in the file as searchable PDF-formatted documents (PDF/A-1a or PDF/A-2a formats preferred). If there are any accessibility issues with the submitted PDF file, all consequences reside with the applicant.

Process for electronic submission:

Process for application sent by mail:

Applications must be mailed to the CSA at the following address:

Announcement of Opportunity for HLS Data and Sample Mining or Research Models
c/o Nancy Lévesque
Astronauts, Life Sciences and Space Medicine
Canadian Space Agency
6767 Route de l'Aéroport
Saint-Hubert, Quebec J3Y 8Y9

Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the Frequently Asked Questions (Section 9).

4.2 Service Standards – Complete Applications

CSA has set service standards for the timely delivery of the acknowledgement of receipt, funding decision and payment processes.

Acknowledgement: The CSA's goal is to acknowledge receipt of proposals within 2 weeks of receiving a completed application package.

Decision: The CSA's goal is to let applicants know the fate of their proposal within 32 weeks of the AO's closing date and to send a grant agreement for signature within 8 weeks after formal approval of the proposal.

Payment::
The CSA's goal is to issue payment within 4 weeks of successful fulfillment of the requirements outlined in the grant agreement.

Compliance with these service standards is a shared responsibility. Applicants must submit all required documentation in a timely fashion.

5 EVALUATION

5.1 Eligibility Criteria

5.2 Evaluation Criteria

5.2.1 Graded Evaluation Criteria

Once the eligibility is confirmed, submissions will be evaluated in two steps; the programmatic evaluation followed by the scientific merit review, using the following graded criteria. These criteria and ratings are listed in Table 3 and a detailed description of these graded criteria can be found in ANNEX 1. Proposals passing the programmatic evaluation will be then considered for the scientific merit review that will be conducted based on peer-review criteria described in Section 5.2.2. To be considered eligible for funding, the total score received for these graded criteria and scientific merit must be greater than 120/200.

Table 3. Summary Table of Evaluation Criteria
Criteria Maximum points for evaluation Minimum points to pass
1. Benefits to Canada 55 26
1.1 Alignment with the priorities of the CSA and its Space Health & Life Sciences Program, and link to future space studies. 25 15
1.2 Benefits on Earth 20 10
1.3 HQP development 5 1
1.4 Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) 5 0
2. Project Feasibility, Resources, and Risk Assessment 40 20
2.1 Budget, Resources Allocation and schedule 20 10
2.2 Risk Management 20 10
3. Results (105/200) 105 71
3.1 Results of the Scientific Merit Review (External peer review led by CSA) 100 Minimum score required to pass the Scientific Merit Review: 70/100.
3.2 Science dissemination plan 5 1
Total 200 120Footnote 1

5.2.2 Evaluation Criteria for Scientific Merit Review

The scientific merit review will be conducted by a panel of scientific experts according to the language ladder listed in Table 4 and a detailed description of each criteria can be found in ANNEX 2. For any given criterion, a score within the associated range will be assigned by reviewers. The scientific merit review panel will assign a score from 0 to 100 or a designation « not recommended for further consideration » based on the intrinsic scientific merit of the proposal. Passing proposals must receive at least a minimal score for each criterion and also obtain a total score of at least 70, which is higher than the sum of all the minimal scores.

Table 4 – Science Merit Scores
Criteria Maximum points for evaluation Minimum points to pass Poor Average Good Excellent
1. Science quality (30%)
1.1 Significance of the research question 30 15 0-7 8-14 15-24 25-30
2. Research approach (45%)
2.1 Validity 20 11 0-4 5-10 11-15 16-20
2.2 Methodology 25 13 0-5 6-12 13-20 21-25
3. Research team (25%)
3.1 Experience, expertise and productivity 25 8 0-5 6-12 13-20 21-25
Total 100 70Footnote 2 - - - -

5.3 Evaluation Process

Only applications that have passed the eligibility assessment listed in Section 5.1 will be given further consideration.

Once the eligibility criteria are confirmed, evaluators will assess the screened applications according to the criteria listed in Section 5.2. Evaluators shall be experts in the fields relevant to the applications and may include representatives of Canada and other countries, and representatives of other government and non-government agencies and organizations. A multidisciplinary evaluation committee will be formed when applications from several different disciplines are competing in order to provide a uniform final score and ranking of proposals.

Before a final decision is made, the CSA's Program Manager responsible for this AO may seek input and advice from other organizations, including (but not limited to) federal, provincial, territorial and municipal government agencies and organizations. Grant agreements will be offered to the applicants in the rank order, based on total score, of proposals in each topic (in other words, there will be a separate ranked list for Data Mining and Research Models), while allowing considerations to maximize the use of available funding.

The results obtained in this selection process could take into account certain factors in the final decision to grant funding, such as, but not limited to, the representativeness of the four designated groups (woman, Aboriginal person, disabled person or member of a visible minority), regional distribution, distribution between universities and post-secondary educational institutions, etc.

6 FUNDING

6.1 Available Funding and Duration

Transfer payments will be made through grant agreements. In all cases, the maximum funding includes overhead costs. The two funding categories are:

Topic 1 (Data and Sample mining (DM)): up to $70,000 for a maximum duration of one (1) year.

Topic 2 (Research Model (RM)): up to $150, 000 for a maximum duration of two (2) years.

The number of projects funded under this AO will depend on funding availability.

There is no limit on the number of proposals submitted per investigator. However, considering the limited funding in this AO, the CSA will only fund one project for a researcher as a PI in this AO in DM, and only one in RM. However, it is possible for an investigator to be selected for funding in Topic 1 (DM) and to be selected for Topic 2 (RM).

The CSA reserves the right to reject any proposals or reduce the amount of the grants at its entire discretion.

Approved proposals will be eligible for a total amount of government assistance (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) of up to 100% of total project costs.

To determine the amount of funding to be allocated, consideration will be given to the availability of CSA funds, the total cost of the project, and the other confirmed sources of funds provided by other stakeholders and the applicant.

Applicants must identify all sources of funding in their applications and confirm this information in a funding agreement if the project is selected for funding. Upon completion of a project, the recipient must also disclose all sources of funding.

6.2 Eligible Costs

Eligible costs are direct expenses that are associated with the delivery of the approved project and that are required to achieve the expected results of the project. Expenses will be covered subject to the applicant signing a funding agreement, in the form of a grant, with the CSA.

Applicants to this CSA AO cannot include as eligible costs any costs related to non-Canadian Co-Investigators or their work within the proposal. These costs should be submitted to the appropriate national agency for funding.

Grants

Eligible costs for grant under this AO are the following:

7 FUNDING AGREEMENTS

7.1 Payments

The CSA and each successful applicant (the recipient) will sign a funding agreement. This is a condition for any payment made by the CSA with respect to the approved project.

For grant agreement, payments will be made in a lump sum or instalments as described in the signed agreement. Grant funding agreements will include a clause stipulating the recipient's obligation to confirm — once a year in the case of multi-year agreements — their eligibility for the G&C Program – Research Component and inform the CSA in writing of any changes to the conditions used in determining their eligibility for this component.

7.2 Audit

The recipient of a funding agreement shall keep proper records of all documentation related to the funded project, for the duration of the project and for six (6) years after the completion date of the project, in the event of an audit. This documentation shall be available upon request.

7.3 Conflict of Interest

In the funding agreement, the recipient will certify that any current or former public office holder or public servant it employs complies with the provisions of the relevant Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector respectively.

7.4 Intellectual Property

All intellectual property developed by the recipient in the course of the project shall vest in the recipient.

7.5 Organizations in Quebec

An organization in Quebec whose operations are partially or fully funded by the province of Quebec may be subject to the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif, R.S.Q., Chapter M-30.

Under Sections 3.11 and 3.12 of this Act, certain entities/organizations, as defined in the meaning of the Act, such as municipal bodies, school bodies, or public agencies, must obtain authorization from the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes (SQRC), as indicated by the Act, before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada, its departments or agencies, or a federal public agency.

Consequently, any entity that is subject to the Act is responsible for obtaining such authorization before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada.

Quebec applicants must complete, sign and include the M-30 Supporting Documentation form with their application.

7.6 Performance Measurement

The CSA will ask the recipients to report on certain aspects of their projects such as:

Knowledge Creation

Capacity Building

Collaboration

7.7 Open Science

In the event that publications result from the project, the CSA wishes to promote the dissemination of findings that results from the projects it funds as quickly and to the greatest number of people as possible. Improved access to scientific results not only allows scientists to use a broader range of resources and knowledge, but also improves research collaboration and coordination, strengthens citizen engagement and supports the economy.

Thus, the CSA promotes the use of open access publication and archiving by recipients in order to facilitate the widest dissemination of findings that results from its funded projects. Thus, recipients are invited to publish, in a timely matter, their articles by using one of the following methods:

  1. Accessible online repository (institutional or disciplinary) so that the publication is freely accessible.
  2. Journal offering open access to articles.

It should be noted that these two methods are not mutually exclusive and that recipients are encouraged to use both.

Following result publications in journals, the recipient are encouraged to submit their final datasets to the CSA.

Finally, the CSA wishes to receive, as a courtesy, a copy of the funded publications (if not freely accessible) or the hyperlink (if freely accessible) and its digital object identifier (DOI). These will be use to promote accessibility by including them in the directory of CSA-funded publications.

8 PRIVACY NOTICE STATEMENT

The CSA manages and protects the information provided by the applicant under the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act. By submitting your personal information, you consent to its collection, use and disclosure in accordance with the following Privacy Statement, which explains how the information about the applicant will be processed.

The information is collected under the CSA Class Grants and Contributions Program in Support of Awareness, Research and Learning - Research Component (ASC PPU 045) and Awareness and Learning Component (ASC PPU 040) . This information will be used for administration and application evaluation purposes. Personal information (such as name, contact information and biographical information) will be kept for 6 years and destroyed. According to the Privacy Act, any individual may, upon request, (1) have access to his or her personal data and (2) request correction of the incorrect information.

Applicants should also note that information relating to the Funding Agreement could be disclosed publicly in accordance with the laws, policies and directives of the Government of Canada.

For additional information regarding this statement, please contact:

Office of Access to Information and Privacy
Canadian Space Agency
Tel.: 450-926-4866
Email: asc.aiprp-atip.csa@canada.ca

9 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

It is the responsibility of the applicants to obtain clarification of the requirements contained herein, if necessary, before submitting an application.

For any questions related to the AO, applicants shall use the following generic email address (asc.santespatiale-spacehealth.csa@canada.ca). Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this AO. The CSA will respond to questions received before 2:00 PM (EDT),

At any point, applicants are welcome to share with the CSA their comments or suggestions regarding the program or the process. Applicants may either use the generic email address (asc.lecedessetc-thegandccoe.csa@canada.ca) or the generic web-based Comments and Suggestions Box available at http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/resources/gc/comments-form.asp

Question 1: We're a small company developing technologies and we'd like to apply to the Data and Sample Mining AO. Is it possible to obtain data from the CSA to further develop one of our solutions as a tool to monitor the well-being of astronauts?

Answer 1: Eligible recipients for funding through this AO are Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions. The investigator team is responsible for obtaining the data or samples directly from repositories that have the data relevant to their project (examples are provided in Table 1 of the AO). Applicants are asked to read the AO and FAQs thoroughly to ensure that their proposal is aligned with the AO objectives, eligibility criteria, and CSA's priorities.

Question 2: Will it be possible to obtain an extension to the current deadline of in order to complete the proposal and/or obtain the necessary approvals?

Answer 2: The evaluation process will begin right after the AO closes, and extending the AO posting puts the evaluation schedule at risk and delays funding of successful proposals. Therefore, a change of deadline is unfortunately not possible.

Question 3: In the Application form regarding your recent Announcement of Opportunity (AO), it is indicated that the full proposal description should be around 2500 words in MS Word format(.DOC, .DOCX), 12-pt typeface, letter-sized paper and 1" margins. Could you please clarify the followings:

  • Are there specific requirements for line spacing?
  • Is it possible to include figures and tables presenting preliminary data in the proposal?
  • Are references included in the maximum limit of 2500 words?

Answer 3: Here are some details about the description of the research proposal:

  • Proposals are usually written in single space format; however, there is no preference/requirement for line spacing.
  • Figures and tables presenting preliminary data can be included, but all legends and text will count towards the maximum limit of 2500 words.
  • References are not included in the maximum limit of 2500 words.

Question 4: In the AO, under 4.1 Required documentation lists the following as required: A copy of the document(s) confirming the legal name of the applicant (must be confirmed by the organization's Office of Research). Could you confirm what type of document CSA will accept and what type of confirmation is required from the Research Office Services?

Answer 4: The documentation required by CSA aims to confirm the legal name of the organization (this is necessary for a formal agreement to be drafted). It is typically enclosed in the "The Act" of the University. "The Act" is the incorporated document that sets out the legal name of the organization and it can be provided by the Office of Research of your University.

Question 5: We are in the process of completing an application for your AO and we have questions regarding the "Duly Authorized Representative" Signature:

  • Is the "Duly Authorized Representative" the same person as the "Representative from the Office of Research"?
  • Is the Chair of my research department sufficient to be this representative?

Answer 5:

  • "The Duly Authorized Representative" can be the same person as the "Representative from the Office of Research", but it can also be another authorized representative of the University.
  • The Chair of the research department cannot be this representative, the application has to be sign by the "Representative from the Office of Research" or a "duly authorized representative" of the University.

Question 6: Regarding the application form, item 8 of Section 13 (Submission Checklist), it is written: "Applicant need to ensure that institutional ethical certification requirements have been met and a letter signed by the chairperson of the local Research Ethics Board (REB) or Animal Care Committee (ACC) regarding approval of the experimental protocol will be required for funding" Does the applicant need to have ethics approved and attach the ethical certificate to the application at the time of submission of the proposal or can the researcher submit the ethical certificate only prior to funding being released?

Answer 6: We require the researcher to submit ethical certificate to the Canadian Space Agency only prior to funding being released once the proposals have been selected. No documents regarding ethics approval are required when submitting the proposal.

Question 7: The Announcement of Opportunity (AO) specifies that the projects can be funded for up to 2 years (24 months). The timeline announced on the AO is 32 weeks to review the grant, and up to 8 weeks to send the agreement to sign. Considering a funding period of 2 years may start during an on-going Fiscal Year, the overall project schedule will spread over a period covering three fiscal years. The problem is that the budget table in the application form only covers 2 fiscal years, where a fiscal year starts to . Can we add a 3rd fiscal year to the official application form to plan our project over a 24 months span?

Answer 7: The Service Standards from Section 4.2 are indicative and the actual timeline up to the grant signature may vary. Applicants are invited to prepare their application within the provided templates as the agreements will last two years (year 1 and year 2), no matter the date of the signature.

Question 8: If a researcher has already gained access to the NASA Life Sciences Data Archives (LSDA) repository to investigate a specific question, could that researcher use the same data to answer a different question as proposed in the research application for this AO? If yes, would the researcher need to amend the ethics of the original project to include the question addressed in the current AO proposal?

Answer 8: Eligible projects for this AO include the use of databases or samples derived from existing collections to improve the understanding of the risks of spaceflight. Therefore, it is possible to re-use data to answer a different question; however the Research Ethics Boards (REBs) are the authority. CSA will need local REB and NASA Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval before the signature of the grant agreement, if the proposal is successful in this CSA competition.

Question 9: If a researcher has already collected data as funded by CSA on a given project, could the researcher apply to this AO proposing to use the data already collected to answer a different question not addressed in the original funded project? If yes, would the researcher need to amend the ethics of the original project to include the question addressed in the current AO proposal?

Answer 9: Eligible projects for this AO include the use of data already collected to answer a different question not addressed in the original funded project. However, this will be decision of the local REB, and the space agency IRBs. CSA will need local REB approval before the signature of the grant agreement, if your proposal is successful in this CSA competition.

Question 10: For the Data Mining opportunity, the AO provides up to $70,000 for a maximum duration of one year. Would it be possible to extend the duration of the project to two years in order to use the funding as a salary for a graduate student?

Answer 10: As stated in the AO, the duration of the funded projects for the Data and sample mining topic is one year. However, if unforeseen events result in a delay of the project, an extension of the duration of the project may be possible. Note that the timing of the agreement can be negotiated, as long as the agreements are signed before . Eligible costs for grants under this AO include salary; see Section 6.2 of the AO.

ANNEX 1

Description of Evaluation Criteria

1. Benefits to Canada:

1.1 Alignment with the priorities of the CSA and its Space Health & Life Sciences Program, and link to future space studies.

Description: This criterion evaluates whether the proposed research objectives are aligned with the priorities of the CSA and its Space Health & Life science program, and whether they are direct precursors of future Canadian investigations on the ISS or other space platform.

Minimum score required = 15

  • Poor: The research objectives in the proposal do not address a risk of human space flight as listed in Table 2 and are not direct precursors of future Canadian investigations on the ISS or other platform. (Score: 0)
  • Below average: One research objective in the proposal addresses a risk of human space flight as described in Table 2, but overall, the proposal only indirectly addresses this risk, or does not clearly demonstrate how the risk is addressed, or the proposal does not clearly demonstrate how the research objectives will lead to a future space investigation. (Score: 10)
  • Average: One research objective in the proposal addresses one risk of human space flight as described in Table 2 and describes how the risk is addressed, but the description is superficial or incomplete. The proposal also demonstrates how the research objectives will lead to a future space investigation, but this is not well justified. (Score 15)
  • Good: The research objectives in the proposal directly address one or more risks of human space flight as described in Table 2 and the proposal clearly describes how the risk is addressed. The proposal demonstrates how the research objectives will lead to a future space investigation and the description is justified. (Score: 20)
  • Excellent: All research objectives in the proposal directly and clearly address one or more risks of human space flight as described in Table 2 and the proposal incorporates a multi-systems approach to risk research. The proposal as a whole addresses risks associated with human space flight. The proposal also clearly demonstrates how the research objectives will lead to a future space investigation and this explanation is well justified and thorough. (Score: 25)
1.2 Benefits on Earth:

Description: This criterion evaluates whether the proposal demonstrates that the acquired knowledge related to a human health spaceflight risk may contribute to the advancement of understanding of similar health issues or have applications on Earth, or that could contribute to improving health care for Canadians.

Minimum score required = 10

  • Poor: The proposal does not address benefits on Earth, or the case for benefits is not clear or logical. (Score: 0)
  • Below average: The proposal indicates some benefits on Earth, but the justification for benefits is not well described nor clear enough. (Score 5)
  • Average: The proposal indicates benefits on Earth, and the justification is included but it is general, or lacks detailed analysis. (Score: 10)
  • Good: One or more of the research objectives has direct Earth benefits. A specific justification is provided and well explained. (Score: 15)
  • Excellent: The proposed research as a whole is targeted to directly address one or more benefits on Earth. The justification is clear, thorough and persuasive. (Score: 20)
1.3 HQP development:

Description: This criterion evaluates how the project will foster the development of HQPs, through recruitment of qualified students/postdoctoral fellows/trainees and provide them with an integrated and meaningful role in the project research team.

Minimum score required = 1

  • Poor: The proposal does not include a plan to foster the development of students/postdoctoral fellows/trainees. (Score: 0)
  • Average: The proposal contains a development plan. Role of students/postdoctoral fellows/trainee candidates is stated but lacks details. (Score: 1)
  • Good: The proposal contains a detailed plan to develop students/postdoctoral fellows/trainees, and provides realistic assurance on its feasibility. Their role in the team is well defined. (Score: 3)
  • Excellent: The proposal contains a well-thought out plan to develop students/postdoctoral fellows/trainees. Description on how this plan will be achieved is complete. The proposal demonstrates that HQP will be assigned leadership roles appropriate for their educational status. (Score: 5)
1.4 Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)

Description: The research project must meaningfully engage members of underrepresented groups within the research team as students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty and partners. Underrepresented groups include, but are not limited to, the four designated groups (women, Indigenous peoples, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities). Applicants can consult the Employment equity website for definitions of each group.

This criterion evaluates whether the proposal describes the specific means that will be taken to foster recruitment and engagement of members from these underrepresented groups within the research team. Referencing the university policy is not considered a sufficient demonstration.

Minimum score required = 0

  • Poor: The proposal does not describe any particular measure to facilitate the diversity of the team. (Score: 0)
  • Average: The proposal contains a diversity inclusion plan. The explanation of how this plan will be achieved lacks details. (Score: 1)
  • Good: The proposal contains a diversity inclusion plan that describes specific means to foster recruitment and engagement of members from underrepresented groups. The explanation of how this plan will be achieved is mainly complete and the approach appears feasible. (Score: 3)
  • Excellent: The proposal contains a diversity inclusion plan that is fully described, with detailed information on the specific means that will be used to implement the plan. The proposal demonstrates that the PI has already established a diversified team for this initiative. (Score: 5)

2. Project Feasibility, Resources and Risk Assessment

2.1 Budget, Resources Allocation and Schedule

Description: This criterion evaluates the adequacy of the budget, resource allocation to tasks, level of effort and material resources, as well as project schedule. Applicants need to present in their application an itemized budget that clearly describes project expenditures and sources of funding. The application must also show resource (human & funds) allocation to tasks, and level of efforts, as well as project schedule. Applicants are encouraged to seek co-funding and should clearly indicate co-funding in their budget.

Minimum score required = 10

  • Poor: The proposal presents an incomplete or inadequate description of budget, resource allocation, and schedule, and/or inadequate justification of project expenditures. (Score: 0)
  • Below average: The budget, resource allocation and schedule are presented; however, information is missing, or the justification of expenditure is incomplete, or some expenditures are mis-evaluated or unrealistic/exaggerated. (Score: 5)
  • Average: The budget, resource allocation and schedule are presented; however, some information may be missing, or the justification of expenditure may be incomplete, or some expenditures are not well-defined. (Score: 10)
  • Good: Appropriate budget and allocation of resources are presented. Level of effort appears adequate, and schedule planning is feasible and realistic. Justification of project expenditures is appropriate, with no major omissions. (Score: 15)
  • Excellent: The budget, resource allocation and schedule are presented in a detailed and clear manner. Justification of resources is clear and comprehensive. The allocation of resources and level of efforts, with clear and comprehensive justification, is provided. (Score: 20)
2.2 Risk Management

Description: This criterion evaluates the knowledge of potential pitfalls and obstacles that may occur during the course of the project, as well as the adequacy of proposed preventive/remedial measures. The proposal shall address key risks associated with the project and the mitigation strategies for each. Information should be provided on resource availability, risks associated with their non-availability and, the risk and mitigation strategies associated with those risks. The following points are particularly important:

Minimum score required = 10

  • Poor: The proposal does not identify any key risks or mitigation strategies, or some risks may be identified but related mitigation strategies are missing. (Score: 0)
  • Below average: The proposal identified risks, but the related mitigation strategies proposed appear inadequate (Score 5).
  • Average: The proposal identified some, but not all, key risks and their mitigation strategies are defined. However, the information provided is not sufficient and some details are missing. (Score: 10)
  • Good: The proposal demonstrates general understanding of key risks and potential pitfalls for this type of project and proposes elements of preventive/remedial measures to ensure feasibility of the study and their justification is well developed. (Score: 15)
  • Excellent: The proposal demonstrates clear understanding of key risks and obstacles/pitfalls accompanied by a thorough and adequate discussion of preventive/remedial measures to ensure completion of the study with quality results. Key risks and their mitigation strategies are well described and the risk assessment is realistic. (Score: 20)

3. Results

3.1 Results of Scientific Merit Review:

For results of scientific merit review, refer to section 5.2. and for a detailed description of each criterion in ANNEX 2.

3.2 Science dissemination plan

Description: This criterion evaluates whether the proposal includes a science dissemination plan describing how results from the investigations will be disseminated (e.g.: conferences, publications, etc). Per Section 7.7, the CSA promotes the use of open access publication and archiving by recipients, and applicants are encouraged to use open access publications in order to facilitate dissemination of results from the investigation.

Minimum score required = 1

  • Poor: The proposal does not include a science dissemination plan. (Score: 0)
  • Average: The proposal indicates some provisions for science dissemination, but few details are provided about this plan and the proposal does not clearly establish if open access publications will be used. (Score: 1)
  • Good: The proposal includes a realistic plan to disseminate scientific results to the scientific community, the use of open access publications is also indicated. (Score: 3)
  • Excellent: The proposal includes an explicit and a well-thought-out and structured scientific publications plan to disseminate scientific results using open access publications, and the plan is likely to raise Canada's profile in Space Life Science considerably. (Score: 5)

ANNEX 2

Description of Evaluation Criteria for Scientific Merit

1. Science quality

1.1 Significance of the research question

Description: This criterion evaluates whether the proposal addresses a significant gap in health research related to spaceflight. The significance of the proposed research in terms of the hypotheses/research questions addressed as well as novelty will be assessed. Potential increase of our understanding of the risks associated with human spaceflight or proposed mitigation strategies will be evaluated.

Minimum score required = 15

  • Poor: The hypotheses and research questions do not address an important health risk related to spaceflight or do not provide any mitigation strategy. The research question will most likely not result in novel knowledge generation as hypotheses and research questions have been explored before. (Score: 0-7)
  • Average: The hypothesis and research questions address health risk related to spaceflight or propose a mitigation strategy. However, the study will only marginally increase our understanding of the risks of human spaceflight or provide minor insights into mitigation strategies. The research question will most likely result in limited novel knowledge generation. (Score: 8-14)
  • Good: The hypothesis and research questions address an important health risk related to spaceflight or propose a credible mitigation strategy. The study is also likely to increase our understanding of the risks of human spaceflight or can lead to concrete insights to provide mitigation strategies. The project is likely to result in novel knowledge generation. (Score: 15-24).
  • Excellent: The hypotheses and research questions address one or several important health risks related to spaceflight or propose a substantial mitigation strategy. The study is likely to result in significant scientific understanding of the risks of human spaceflight or can lead to the development of new countermeasures. Results of this project will most likely considerably contribute to significant scientific knowledge advances in the field. (Score: 25-30)

2. Research approach

2.1 Validity of research

Description: This criterion evaluates how the research approach builds upon a successful foundation of relevant published research. It evaluates the completeness of the literature review and its relevance to the study design and research plan.

Minimum score required = 11

  • Poor: The research approach is not based upon a successful foundation of relevant previous studies. The literature review is missing or inadequate/incomplete. (Score: 0-4)
  • Average: The research approach is based in part upon a successful foundation of relevant previous studies. The literature review is inadequate or incomplete. (Score: 5-10)
  • Good: The research approach is based upon a successful foundation of relevant previous studies. The literature review contains some relevant references but some important aspects might not be included or considered. (Score: 11-15)
  • Excellent: The research approach is largely based upon a successful foundation of relevant previous studies. The literature review is exhaustive and covers all aspects of the proposed study. (Score: 16-20)

2.2 Methodology

Description: This criterion evaluates the appropriateness of the proposed research design, research methods, data analysis methods of the research approach to achieve the objectives.

Minimum score required: 13

  • Poor: The proposed methodology is unlikely to support the objectives of the study or is poorly described. The research design lacks important details, the selected approach is not appropriate and the choice of data/samples (for Topic 1) or research models (for Topic 2) is not well justified. (Score: 0-5)
  • Average: The proposed methodology may support the study's objectives. However, there is a lack of details in research design and/or the selected approach is poorly described. The choice of data/samples (for Topic 1) or research models (for Topic 2) is justified, but there is a clear risk that the proposed approach cannot fully address the research question. There may be better approaches to achieve the objectives. (Score: 6-12)
  • Good: The proposed methodology is likely to achieve the objectives and well described. The research design, the selected approach, the choice of data/samples (for Topic 1) or research models (for Topic 2) are justified and are aligned with the research question. However, additional approaches could have been included to fully address the research questions. (Score: 13-20)
  • Excellent: The proposed methodology is excellent and clearly described, giving a high level of confidence that the objectives will be achieved. The research design, the selected approach, the choice of data/samples (for Topic 1) or research models (for Topic 2) are well justified and described. The proposed methodology fully addresses the research questions. (Score: 21-25)

3. Research team

3.1 Research team expertise, experience and productivity

Description: This criterion evaluates the availability of all the required expertise in the team and experience in the proposed field of Health and Life Science (HLS) research in order to successfully accomplish the proposed work. This criterion will also evaluate the scientific productivity and past achievements in the proposed field of research and methodology.

Minimum score required: 8

  • Poor: The team has some members with the required expertise or experience in similar research studies, but it is rather poor or limited. The team's scientific productivity in this field of research is poor and below an acceptable level of quality, impact and/or importance. (Score: 0-5)
  • Average: Some of the team members have expertise and experience in the field of research, but the overall level of expertise in the team is average. The team's scientific productivity in this field of research is average with acceptable level of quality, impact and/or importance. (Score: 6-12)
  • Good: The team includes several members that have the required expertise in the field and demonstrated experience in similar studies. The research team has a good publication record of high quality, impact and/or importance. (Score: 13-20)
  • Excellent: The team is mostly composed of experts in the proposed field of research. The research team has a clear expertise in the field and has successfully conducted studies of similar scope. The research team has a solid publication record of high quality, impact and/or importance. (Score: 21-25)
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