CANHEART/SPOR Studentship Program

CANHEART SPOR Studentship Program (For Graduate Students)



The CANHEART ‘big data’ research initiative ( is aimed at measuring and improving cardiovascular health and the quality of ambulatory cardiovascular care provided in Ontario, Canada using the population-based CANHEART cohort. The CANHEART cohort is created through the linkage of 19+ routinely collected health administrative, vital statistics, survey and laboratory databases housed at ICES ( The strength of this cohort lies in the large sample size, containing information on 10.9 million Ontarians age 20-105 years, and diversity of the linked databases.

Building upon the insights gained to date through the CANHEART work, we are currently undertaking a CANHEART Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR)-funded project aimed at leveraging big data to conduct innovative cardiovascular clinical trials. We aim to: 1) undertake a pragmatic cluster randomized registry-based clinical trial to improve lipid-management amongst intermediate-and high-risk patients residing in high-risk health regions in Ontario, and 2) develop novel algorithms for measuring clinical outcomes in clinical trials using health-related databases and compare whether they are as accurate as traditional event ascertainment methods. These projects are undertaken by an interdisciplinary team consisting of experts in administrative health databases, implementation science, clinical trials, knowledge translation and patient engagement.

Students will have opportunities to support both the CANHEART and CANHEART SPOR initiative. Potential options for research projects and programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Quantitative studies examining the association between patient, community and health system factors, and the incidence of cardiovascular health outcomes.
  • Studying lipid management in the province (e.g., lipid screening, cardiovascular risk assessment, statin utilization and adherence to the Canadian Cardiovascular Society’s lipid guidelines), including knowledge translation activities and qualitative studies in these areas.
  • Working with the study team to develop novel algorithms for identifying clinical outcomes (e.g., myocardial infarction, heart failure) using health administrative data (e.g., hospitalization, emergency department), laboratory data (e.g., Ontario Laboratory Information System), and clinical registries (e.g., CorHealth cardiac procedures).
  • Development of novel methods for using ‘big data’ to conduct clinical trials.

NOTE: Students and their supervisor are encouraged to send a brief summary of their proposed project to the CANHEART office ( in advance of the deadline for a review of the relevance of their project to the CANHEART SPOR initiative.  Requests for reviews should be submitted to CANHEART by Friday March 29th 2019.


  1. The program is open to both Canadian citizens and students from abroad who wish to undertake graduate training at the University of Toronto.
  2. The research should be conducted under the supervision of a senior investigator on the CANHEART SPOR research team. Students are encouraged to view the list of CANHEART SPOR investigators willing to supervise students and their areas of research interest. The investigator must also be a member of the Heart & Stroke/ Richard Lewar Centres of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research (HSRLCE), or willing to join if you are successful in the competition. As an alternative, students may have a co-supervisor who is a member of the HSRLCE. The list of HSRLCE members can be found here.
  3. The research plan should be written in full by the student in consultation and in agreement with the supervisor.
  4. Applicants to the studentship competition must be enrolled in a full time MSc or PhD degree program at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, School of Graduate Studies at the time of commencement of funding. Documentation of enrollment will be required prior to the initiation of funding. The graduate degree program you are registered with via ROSI must be a Faculty of Medicine department/institute program. (Note for IBBME students: To be eligible, IBBME graduate students must be registered on ROSI under Biomedical Engineering (BME). IBBME students registered on ROSI under Mechanical Industrial Engineering (MIE) are not eligible).
  5. The applicant’s research project must be primarily in the area of cardiovascular sciences. Relevance to cardiovascular science will be determined by the committee which evaluates all applications.
  6. Applicants should not have completed more than four years of their PhD studies at the time of application. If you have more than four years of doctoral education you are not eligible for this award.
  7. All applicants should apply for OGS and QEII-GSST awards. If the applicant is not eligible for one of these awards, a written statement should accompany the application.  (Applicants in their first year of study who were unable to apply for an OGS award can apply to the HSRLCE studentship but must provide a letter explaining the situation).
  8. If the applicant has, is awarded, or is offered an OGS, QEII-GSST or other major award, the student becomes ineligible for a HSRLCE award. They must accept the external award and forfeit the HSRLCE award.
  9. Limited funds may preclude the awarding of funding to all excellent applicants. The Centre reserves the right to limit the number of awards given to students of a single investigator to one per investigator.
  10. In the case of multiple applications in a single calendar year from the same laboratory, we request the principal investigator limit the number of applications per lab to two. The investigator must also rank the applicants from his or her laboratory to indicate priority for funding. These rankings will be used secondarily to the criteria of excellence.


Duration of Support:

Awards will be made for a period of twelve consecutive months. There is no limit to the number of years that an applicant may compete for an HSRLCE studentship, but the individual must re-apply each year. It is expected that candidates will show good progress in their studies to be awarded a HSRLCE studentship in successive years. Awards will commence on the later of September 1, 2019 or the start date of the awardee’s entry into his or her MSc or PhD program (not later than January 1, 2020).

Location of Tenure:

Awardees must be enrolled in a full time MSc or PhD research-based program with the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto (Faculty of Medicine). Having previous research experience is preferred.


The annual stipend for studentship awards will be $15,000. Non-discretionary benefits are not included in the HSRLCE studentship and are the responsibility of the student’s supervisor. Funding for successful applicants will be provided directly through the HSRLCE or through other sources available to the supervisor (e.g., CIHR or other grants). For students who receive the HSRLCE studentship award, top-up funding may also be available through their supervisors.

Important Dates:

Applications are due on April 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm. Late or incomplete submissions will not be accepted.
Funding begins — September 2019


A complete application (hard copy and electronic) will consist of:

  1. A completed HSRLCE studentship application form; Click here to download the HSRLCE Studentship 2019-2020-Applicant-Section form
  2. Official undergraduate transcripts (unofficial web transcripts are not acceptable) – have the transcripts sent to you so you can scan and include them in the electronic version of your application
  3. Official graduate transcripts if applicable (unofficial web transcripts are not acceptable) – have the transcripts sent to you so you can scan and include them in the electronic version of your application
  4. Evidence that you have applied for external awards (OGS and QEII-GSST)
  5. Biosketch of your supervisor
  6. CV of the student (showing publications, awards, presentations, and education)

All the above components of the application should be combined into one PDF file.

  1. Confidential letters of recommendation should be forwarded by the referees, in PDF format, directly to HSRLCE at;
    Click here to download the HSRLCE Studentship 2019-2020-Referee-Section form


Font, Spacing and Margin Restrictions:

All attached pages must conform to the following format restrictions:
– A one inch margin should surround the text on all attached pages.
– Text must be no smaller than twelve point, or ten characters per inch.
– No condensed formatting is allowed.

Applications should be submitted to:

Liz Thuo
Business and Communications Manager
Heart & Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence
University of Toronto, David Naylor Building
6 Queens Park Crescent West, Room 202
Toronto, ON  M5S 3H2
Phone: (416) 978-2351

In addition, a PDF of this application and a letter of support from the CANHEART SPOR investigator(s) willing to supervise you, must also be submitted to the CANHEART office at:


Liz ThuoCANHEART/SPOR Studentship Program