CANHEART/SPOR Fellowship Program

CANHEART SPOR Fellowship Program



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 17+ routinely collected health administrative, vital statistics, survey and laboratory databases housed at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences ( The strength of this cohort lies in the large sample size, containing information on 9.8 million Ontarians age 20-105 years, and diversity of the linked databases.

Building upon the insights gained to date through the CANHEART work, we have also recently launched a new CANHEART SPOR project aimed at leveraging big data to conduct innovative cardiovascular clinical trials. We will 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 will be undertaken by an interdisciplinary team consisting of experts in administrative health databases, implementation science, clinical trials, knowledge translation and patient engagement.

Fellows 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: Fellows are encouraged to send a brief summary of their proposed research plan to the CANHEART office ( in advance of the deadline for a review of the relevance of their research plan to the CANHEART SPOR initiative.  Requests for reviews should be submitted to CANHEART by Friday March 30th 2018.


  1. The program is open to both Canadian citizens and fellows from abroad who wish to undertake fellowship training at the University of Toronto or one of its affiliated institutions.
  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 Centre 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. Each application is considered a joint submission by the applicant and the proposed supervisor. The research plan should be written in full by the student in consultation and in agreement with the supervisor.
  4. Applicants to the fellowship competition must have completed a PhD or MD degree or equivalent, or intend to have completed one of these degrees at the time of commencement of funding. Equivalence will be determined at the discretion of the evaluating committee. Documentation of degree completion will be required prior to the initiation of funding. If you have an MD and are pursuing a PhD, you must wait until your PhD studies are completed before applying for this award.
  5. Applicants MUST BE pursuing a research program. Clinical practice-based fellowships will NOT be supported. It must be documented with the application that a candidate with clinical interests will dedicate at least 75% of their time and effort to their research project(s).
  6. The applicant’s research project should be primarily in the area of the cardiovascular sciences. Relevance to cardiovascular science will be determined by the committee which evaluates all applications.
  7. Applicants must not have held a previous faculty appointment.
  8. Applicants should not have completed more than four years of post-doctoral training (PhD or MD) anywhere at the time of application (April 27, 2018). Interruptions in the applicant’s career, either during or subsequent to training, should be briefly described.
  9. Applicants to the HSRLCE fellowship program must have applied to a major funding agency (such as the HSFC or CIHR) for a 2018/2019 fellowship award prior to applying to the HSRLCE program, or intend to apply for an external award by the end of their first year in the fellowship program. Proof of your application to an external agency should be included with your application.
  10. If an applicant has or is awarded a fellowship from one of these agencies, the fellow becomes ineligible for an HSRLCE award.  They must accept the external award and forfeit the HSRLCE award.
  11. Individuals wishing to undertake post-PhD training with their PhD supervisor, or in the same department in which they received their doctoral training, may be eligible for a HSRLCE fellowship. However, these candidates are advised that a change of training environment is strongly encouraged, and this factor will be considered in the scoring of the candidate’s application.
  12. Limited funds may preclude the funding of all excellent applicants. The Centre reserves the right to limit the number of awards to fellows of a single investigator. In the case of multiple applications in a single calendar year from the same laboratory, the principal investigator in the laboratory must rank the applicants to indicate priority for funding. This criteria will be applied 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, 2018 or the start date of the awardee’s entry into his or her MSc or PhD program (not later than January 1, 2019).

Location of Tenure:

Awardees must be pursuing a research fellowship in cardiovascular science at the University of Toronto or one of its affiliated hospitals. They should be supervised by a researcher who holds research funds obtained through a recognized competitive peer review process.


The annual stipend for studentship awards will be $25,000. 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 applicants who receive the HSRLCE fellowship award, top-up funding may also be available through their supervisors.

Evaluation Criteria:

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  1. The applicant’s academic record and perceived potential as indicated in the letters of recommendation submitted with the application
  2. The research project, including significance to the field of cardiovascular science, rigor of design, and preliminary results (if applicable)
  3. The environment in which the applicant will do their research project
  4. A minor component of the evaluation will be based on other factors that the reviewers consider relevant to the potential success of the applicant’s fellowship

The review process will consist of an in-depth review of each application by two reviewers from the review committee. The review committee will consist of individuals from the Toronto cardiovascular research community, representing a cross-section of expertise. Once the in-depth individual reviews have been completed, this committee will meet as a group to discuss and finalize the individual reviews of each of the HSRLCE fellowship applications. A consensus score will be assigned to each application. Conflict of interest rules will be observed, such that any member of the review committee who supervises, co-supervises or otherwise advises a candidate will excuse themselves from the discussion of that candidate’s application. Awards will be offered to the highest ranking applicants. A pre-set level will be established, and applications ranked below this level will be ineligible to receive awards.

Important Dates:

Applications are due on April 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm. Late or incomplete submissions will not be accepted.
Funding begins — September 2018


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

  1. A completed HSRLCE fellowship application form including applicant and supervisor sections; Click the link to download the 2018-2019 fellowship application-applicant section and the 2018-2019 fellowship application-supervisor section
  2. Official transcript of the applicant’s academic record (last degree obtained) – unofficial web transcripts are not acceptable
    You can have the transcripts sent directly to you and you may open the envelope to scan the transcripts for inclusion in the PDF application
  3. Up to three (3) of the applicant’s publications – (do not send preprints, proofs or manuscripts in preparation)
  4. Evidence that you have applied to external awards (e.g. HSFC, CIHR)
    This can include either the signature page of your HSFC, CIHR, etc application form, or a screenshot of the confirmation page of your HSFC, CIHR, etc application. For applicants who will apply for an external award within the first year of their fellowship, continued funding is contingent upon providing evidence of this application being sent to the HSRLCE.
  5. Printed version of your Canadian Common CV module, in Academic CV- CIHR format
  6. Proof of Canadian licensure to practice medicine (if applicable)
  7. Statement from department head that at least 75% of the applicant’s time will be reserved for research activities (applicable to clinical fellows only)

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; The referee assessment form should be filled out by two different individuals. If the candidate has completed a PhD, it is recommended that the applicant’s PhD advisor is one of the references; Click the link to download the 2018-2019 fellowship application-referee section. 

General instructions for submitting an application:

  1. Do not fold or place any part of the applications in folders or envelopes, except the entire completed application package, as required for delivery.
  2. Completion of the Canadian Common CV module, Academic CV- CIHR format, ( requires obtaining a password -which may take some time so plan ahead. Only those pages relevant to the candidate need be submitted. DO include relevant attachments, such as activities/contributions, interruptions/delays, patents and copyrights, and publications, if applicable.
  3. The section marked Progress Report should be completed by all applicants. If the applicant is entering their fellowship training in the current year, then the Progress Report should consist of the progress the applicant believes he or she has made towards establishing his or her cardiovascular research career to-date. Those who are seeking renewal of an HSRLCE fellowship should focus on the progress made in their fellowship tenure.

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 303
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 Fellowship Program