Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada-Brain Canada-Biogen MS Progression Cohort

Request for Applications

People affected by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) continue to voice an urgent need for treatments that will halt and reverse their progression, but in order to achieve this, researchers must first understand why and how progression in MS occurs. Prospective and retrospective longitudinal studies allow researchers to observe a disease over time and gather important biological, healthcare, economic, and real-world information. MS is a chronic disease that evolves over time, and the best approach to understanding and measuring progression is to establish a unique Canadian cohort of people who can shed light on the following key questions: why do certain individuals progress? How does progression affect their physical symptoms, adherence to and impact of treatments, and their ability to obtain employment and participate meaningfully in the community and healthcare system? Ultimately, this information will influence the management of all forms of MS, and the development of solutions that enable people living with MS to live an improved quality of life, and serve as a resource and model for the study of other neurological diseases.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MSSC), Brain Canada and Biogen are pleased to announce a new and innovative research initiative to study disease progression in people living with MS in Canada. This multi-stakeholder partnership is a novel opportunity to support MS research with the intent to build a national cohort of MS patients. This funding opportunity has the overall goals of serving as an open access tool to stimulate continued MS research in Canada that will benefit the MS patient, research and clinical communities and serve as a resource and model for the study of other neurological diseases.

The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to establish a team of investigators to design a comprehensive study of people living with MS in Canada, and establish the feasibility of, and develop the infrastructure and protocols for, conducting retrospective and prospective studies over the period required to answer important questions related to progression in MS.

The competition will be structured in two parts: A Letter of Intent (LOI) for a Planning Grant, and an application for the Full Grant. For details please review the Request for Applications.

Amount and Term

  • Planning grant: Teams of investigators will first submit a LOI to seek a planning grant that will enable them to appropriately plan and develop their full application. The planning grant will provide the applicants with resources to establish a team of researchers that, in collaboration, will design the study and conduct a landscape analysis of current resources that could assist with the development of the cohort. The total funding envelope that is available for the planning grant is up to $250,000 (CAD) for 5 months. If more than one team is invited to the full application stage, they will share the planning grant.
  • Full grant: The work prepared with the planning grant will lead to the submission of a full application that will demonstrate the capacity of the team(s) to assemble a cohort of people with MS, collect data using a suitable database/infrastructure from the cohort and commence answering specific questions of this study related to progression in MS. Only one team representing multiple centers in Canada will be selected to receive the full grant. The total funding available is $6,590,000 (CAD) for up to 5 years (with the potential of additional funding depending on additional partners).


This competition is open to a team of three or more investigators who holds an M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent degree, have an academic or research appointment and is conducting research in a recognized Canadian institution.

A. Study Investigators

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for overall scientific and administrative oversight of the grant and the collaborative members.

The Co-Investigators (co-I) are responsible for overseeing elements within the individual study sites, including participant recruitment, data collection etc. and/or one of the research domains.

The team may also include Collaborators with specialized expertise needed for the project (e.g. those needed for specialized techniques, statistical analysis, etc.). Collaborators contribute indirectly to the proposed research activities. Collaborators may be from sites outside Canada.

B. Study Sites

The study must include at least three Canadian academic research centers that will recruit participants, ideally from at least two provinces. A ministry within the Alberta government has expressed interest in contributing to funding this initiative and the applicants are encouraged to include investigators and/or study sites from Alberta.

Important Dates

  • Launch of RFA & Letter of Intent submission opens: March 15, 2017
  • Letter of Intent submission closes: May 8, 2017 at 16:00 EST
  • Announcement of Letter of Intent planning grant: June 1, 2017
  • Full application submission closes: November 1, 2017 at 16:00 EST
  • Review with comments sent to applicants to address: December 2017
  • Announcement of full grant: January 2018
  • Funding begins (at the earliest): February 2018