Ignite Grants

The Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC) seeks to foster novel and innovative approaches to research on infectious disease that pose a threat to human health, including agile and adaptive research projects that can be implemented quickly to gather data on infectious agents. 

EPIC Ignite Grants (formerly Proof-of-Principle Grants) provide seed funding to support early stage and pilot level projects that show promise in developing novel understanding or innovations in the area of infectious disease and/or pandemic preparedness. The program aims to fund research from each of the four streams below:

  • applied and/or translational research
  • clinical research
  • fundamental research
  • population, global and public health research

This funding is intended to be agile and adaptive so that it can be deployed as rapid response funding when needed or provide seed funding within the EPIC community to support a strong pipeline of innovations in infectious disease research.

EPIC is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

Lead investigators of successful proposals in the EPIC’ Ignite Grant competition will present their work at EPIC annual research events outlining the project and future directions of the research.



  • Propose to undertake a feasible and potentially impactful pilot project in the area of infectious disease research 
  • Research questions should address existing human infectious disease or zoonotic pathogens with human pandemic potential 
  • Proposed work must be for an early-stage project with no direct external funding support at the time of application (Note: Trainee salary support is not considered disqualifying external funding support.)
  • Lead investigator must have a primary affiliation at one of EPIC’s partner institutions (the Hospital for Sick Children, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Unity Health Toronto, University Health Network and University of Toronto)   
Value and Duration

EPIC’s Ignite Grant recipients will receive up to $50,000 in research operational funding over a 1-year term. Grants are non-renewable.  

EPIC anticipates supporting six proposals in the 2024 Ignite Grants competition with the aim of funding at least one project in each of the four streams listed above and at least one project led by an early career investigator. Please see selection criteria for more information.  

Grantee Responsibilities

Ignite Grant recipients will be invited to present at EPIC events during the grant term. They will also enter the reviewers pool to serve as adjudicators for the following year’s grant competition. At the conclusion of the funding term, a progress report will be required outlining major outcomes, trainee engagement and future funding/translation plans to build on the findings of this work. Grant recipients are also required to acknowledge EPIC support in publications, presentations and communications resulting from the funded work. 

Selection Criteria

Proposals submitted to the EPIC Ignite Grants competition will be evaluated using the following criteria:   

  • Novelty and innovativeness of research idea and/or methodologies. 
  • proof-of-principal/early-stage projects with no external funding support (at the time of application). 
  • Ability to answer an urgent question or challenge in human infectious disease research or pandemic preparedness. 
  • Potential to impact human health, societal resilience and/or pandemic readiness. 
  • Clear potential for further project development and/or translation of the findings with successful outcome of the work. 
  • Incorporation of values of equity, diversity, and inclusivity in the research environment and/or the project implementation, where appropriate. 

The career stage of the investigators will also be considered as we aim to fund at least one project led by an early career investigator.  

Early career investigator is defined as anyone who is within seven years from the start of their first independent academic appointment, with adjustments given for career interruptions. Career interruptions include, but are not limited to, parental leaves, extended sick leaves, medical leaves, and family care leaves. Please indicate any career interruptions in your CV. 

    Application materials

    Please submit all supporting materials as a single, combined PDF via email to epic@utoronto.ca. PDF documents should follow the naming convention: Ignite_Last name_First name 

    All materials should be easily legible, in a minimum of 11-point font with standard document margins (top/bottom: 2.5cm, left/right: 1.9cm)  

    For any questions or concerns, please email epic@utoronto.ca with “2024 Ignite Grants” in the subject line.

      Please download and complete the PDF application form with information about yourself and your research project. The form also needs to be signed by your institutional or departmental chair.

      Plain language summary (maximum 250 words): Provide a summary in non-specialist language of the proposal, highlighting project objectives, outcomes, and impact. The plain language summary may be posted on EPIC’s website and should be understandable by a general lay audience. 

      Project proposal (maximum 1000 words, references not included in word limit): Provide an overview of the proposed research, including background, rationale, aims, methods, deliverables, and timelines.Please provide roles of any co-investigators listed on this project. The inclusion of one figure is permitted, but the figure legend will count towards total word count of the proposal. Please also include how this pilot data would provide short term impact and/or empower future funding applications to support longer term or translational research projects. 

      EDI statement (maximum 250 words): Please share your reflections on the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and how it applies to your work. If relevant, please comment on how EDI considerations have been or will be factored into your project’s design and execution. 

      Budget justification (maximum 1 page): Provide the breakdown and rationale of the total budget requested for the project as aligned with Tri-Agency funding reporting (see Tri-Agency Form 300 for category examples). Note: large equipment purchases are not eligible expenditures. In addition, please describe any other research funding being leveraged in support of this project at the time of application. 

      CV: Please provide CVs for lead and co-investigator (if applicable). Canadian Common CV style preferred. 

      Demographic Survey

      Applicants will be asked to complete our demographic survey. While this survey is required, there is an option to select “Prefer not to answer” for all questions.

      Important Dates

      Call for applications: February 5, 2024

      Deadline to submit all application forms and supporting materials: March 18, 2024, 11:59 pm EST

      Anticipated review period: April/May 2024

      Anticipated Notice of Award: June 2024

      Funding start date: July 2024