Guidelines for New Investigator Fellowships


Three Years: Up to $40,000 in Each Year

The New Investigator Fellowships help newly independent investigators to develop their line of research and forge a research career, by funding the following flexible options:

  • arrange for relief clinical, teaching or administrative duties to secure time for research;
  • be applied directly to the operating costs of research; or
  • provide the individual with a stipend.

You are eligible to apply if, at the time of the application, you are:

  • in the first seven years of your career following your most recent professional research qualification*;
  • holding a professional research qualification in a field relevant to mental health FRCP(C) plus MA or MSc; FRCP (C) alone; or PhD; and
  • conducting investigations in an Ontario hospital, university or other institutional setting.

* To help determine your eligibility, the OMHF uses the date of your degree completion.

If an applicant for a New Investigator Fellowship is also applying for a grant and is awarded both, the NIF can only be held as a stipend.

Since this fellowship covers the cost of providing a substitute for part of your duties, your institution must draft a plan detailing what duties will be taken over and when. If income is lost due to reduced OHIP-funded clinical services, both you and your sponsoring institution must provide documentation that outlines this reduction. The amount of time released to do research may vary, but in no instance will the OMHF support a full-time substitution.

In your application, you must:

  • show the availability of resources needed to carry out the proposed research (such as computer time, external grant support, laboratory facilities and access to clients);
  • explain clearly how the OMHF award will increase your research opportunities and productivity; 
  • provide evidence (such as a letter of support from your program or department) that your research position has a reasonable prospect of continuity (such as tenure or being on the tenure track) or that your program or department has committed to retaining you over the longer term; and
  • name your mentor or senior collaborator who is an established investigator in a field relevant to mental health, as well as provide the OMHF with assurance that you do have a close working with this individual.

1.  Terms of the Award

Awards will normally begin on July 1. Funds will be payable to the institution in quarterly installments, starting July 15.

Before monies can be forwarded, the institution must provide the OMHF with final details of the arrangements to provide a substitute for the fellow, by May 31. The fellowship will not be awarded if the proposed substitution is not deemed satisfactory.

You may carry forward unspent funds from one year for use in the following year. At the end of the award, however, the institution must return all unspent funds to the OMHF.

2.  Accounting & Payment Schedule

Awards are paid to the accounting office of the sponsoring institution at the end of the quarter in June, September, December and March. The institution is responsible for withholding funds until it is satisfied that all requirements relating to ethical issues, including consent, have been addressed to its satisfaction.

Your institution’s accounting office must submit a statement of expenditures to the OMHF within 30 days of the end of each fiscal year (March 31) of the award.

If an award is funded for more than one year, unspent funds as of March 31 may be carried forward for use in the following year.

3.  Travel Funds

New investigator fellows may apply to the OMHF for up to $1,000 in travel funds each year, to defray the costs of attending scientific conferences and meetings. You can apply the annual allowance to an event in that specific year (but can't transfer the allocation to another year). In advance of the event, write a letter to the Executive Director that is countersigned by your supervisor and that describes the meeting and your role in it (such as presenting and observing). Following the event, you must provide receipts or documentation confirming your attendance before payment can be made.­­

4.  Requesting an Extension

You can request your award be extended for six months or one year to complete your research project as originally approved and funded. The OMHF, however, will not consider a request to undertake a substantially different project. In no case will an extension go beyond one year past the original completion date; at that date, all unspent funds must be returned to the OMHF.

The OMHF must receive your written request for an extension before September 1 of the second year of the award. Your request must include:

  • a clear explanation as to why the extension is required;
  • a statement of expenditures to date;
  • a description of progress in the project to date;
  • evidence that the project as originally funded can be completed by the end of the extension; and
  • a revised budget to cover the period of the proposed extension.

The Executive Director will review your request and grant the extension, if the Executive Director is of the opinion that, based on your submission, the project as originally proposed can be completed during the extension.

A fellow whose request for a six-month extension is approved may apply for new funding in September of the award's second year. A fellow whose request for a one-year extension is approved may apply for new funding in September of the extended award's third year.

5.  Career Interruptions & Mobility

The OMHF may consider interruptions, delays or post-degree clinical training in your post-PhD or professional research qualification cumulative experience and/or research training, if you give detailed information on the interruption including specific dates. Child-rearing, long-term illness (greater than 30 days) or health-related family responsibilities are eligible interruptions.

The review committee will take into account both your academic standing and evidence of ability and accomplishment in research when reviewing your application. It will also take into account an interruption in your career, the circumstances of which you should briefly explain in the cover letter. If your eligibility for a particular category is affected in this way, you should discuss the situation with the Executive Director before submitting your application.

The OMHF, supported by its review committee, believes that it is intellectually limiting for an individual to take most or all of his/her advanced training in the same research setting. For example, the committee would question the wisdom of staying on for postdoctoral training in a laboratory where you had completed your doctoral work. If you are proposing to stay on in a setting where you have already taken extensive training, you must give the committee a persuasive reason for this choice.

6.  Changes in Your Project

If you wish to defer your award for maternity or parental leave, you must send a written request to the OMHF setting out the nature of the leave, its start and completion dates, and an assessment of the effect of the leave on the completion of your work. If applicable, your supervisor must sign the letter as well.

If you find it necessary to change your line of work, alter the proposed arrangements or abandon your research project entirely, you must contact the OMHF Program Officer by email immediately.

7.  Additional Funding

If you are successful in securing additional funding, you must inform the OMHF Program Officer by email immediately. If the costs can be properly transferred to another agency, freed-up OMHF monies would be passed to the project next in line for our support.

8.  Publishing Costs

Award recipients should consider budgeting for the cost of publishing in open access journals if necessary to meet the requirements of the OMHF’s Policy on Access to Research Publications.

9.  Acknowledgement in Publications

All publications resulting from OMHF-funded research must include the following acknowledgement: This study was assisted by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. 

10.  Other Instructions

If you are not sure which category represents the best fit for you or you need assistance in completing your application, we strongly urge you to contact the OMHF Program Officer by email before you complete the application. 

Ensure that all required documents reach the OMHF by the stated deadlines. 

Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.