NSERC Discovery Frontiers: Call for Proposals: Antimicrobial resistance in the environment


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)


Antimicrobial Resistance in the Environment

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NSERC - Discovery Frontiers

Call for Proposals 2019 - Antimicrobial resistance in the environment


NSERC has launched its next call for proposals under its Discovery Frontiers program. This round of funding will focus on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the environment. 

Discovery Frontiers (DF) grants are initiatives that identify and capitalize on emerging opportunities where Canada can benefit from its world-class capacity to take a leadership role in key areas of research and innovation. Discovery Frontiers address national research priorities and global challenges by supporting a small number of major new transformative and integrative activities. These initiatives will generate substantial impact from a one-time injection of funding for a defined period, addressing challenges and seizing leadership opportunities in areas of national importance.

This fifth call for proposals will bring together groups of researchers in new ways to address a major research challenge in Antimicrobial Resistance in the environment. Discovery Frontiers will support a program that will be paradigm-shifting, trans-disciplinary in nature, open new fields or integrate existing fields in new ways, involve international collaboration, and accelerate the establishment of expertise and capacity.

A successful research program on AMR should integrate disciplines in new ways and provide new strategies and solutions at the forefront of this significant scientific challenge. Potential areas of research include, but are not limited to: environmental sources and fate of antibiotic resistant microbes/genes, resistance ecology, resistance evolution, microbial community impacts, ecosystem impacts, impacts of AMR organisms on the environment, animal role as vectors, animal health risks, and mitigation options for further environmental AMR increase.


In addition to the usual NSERC eligibility criteria for applicants and co-applicants, each Call for Proposals may identify mandatory eligibility criteria specific to that call. These will be used to screen applications and are pre-requisites for proposals to be accepted, at the Letter of Intent stage, within a specific Discovery Frontiers competition. Discovery Frontiers grants are not tied to the annual Discovery Grants (DG) competition cycle. Grants awarded under the Discovery Frontiers initiative can be held concurrently with an individual or a team DG. A DF grant must add value, building on excellence.

The following criteria will apply to all DF applications:

  • The activity will encompass discovery research and must involve international collaboration; it can involve industrial or receptor sector participation capacity, if appropriate.
  • The activity should encourage collaboration and integration across several disciplines within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE) and may include aspects of social science and health research.
  • The activity will be distinct from, and will not duplicate, what is being done through other existing NSERC programs such as, but not limited to, the Discovery Accelerator Supplements, CREATE, Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks or Networks of Centres of Excellence programs.
  • The proposal should demonstrate that the one-time research contribution has the potential to generate substantial and important advances in knowledge.

There may be additional criteria depending on the goals of a specific Discovery Frontiers competition (e.g. collaborative, multidisciplinary, industrial or receptor sector participation).

Please refer to the Use of Grant Funds section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide for details on eligible expenses.

Maximum Project Value

Up to $1 million per year for four years.

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

Four years.

Special Notes

Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of women and other under-represented groups in the natural sciences and engineering, as one means to foster excellence in research and training. Diversity and gender equity must be considered when developing their group of co-applicants, collaborators and trainees.

Refer to the application instructions and the Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application for further guidance on how to incorporate these equity, diversity and inclusion measures within the full proposal.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

External Deadline

Letter of Intent:  PI to submit directly to NSERC. The LOI should be saved as a single portable document format (PDF) document, and uploaded to NSERC’s secure portal before the deadline. More information can be found on the DF website 

Internal Deadline

NSERC will circulate Invitations to Apply to selected LOI's by May 3, 2019.

If Invited: Lead Applicant to submit OR-5 form and a copy of your application to: research.services@uoguelph.ca. Applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal will be given further instructions on submission details at the time of invitation.

External Deadline

If Invited: PI to submit complete application through NSERC’s secure portal before the deadline. More information can be found on the DF website. Applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal will be given further instructions on submission details at the time of invitation. 

How to Apply

  1. Letter of intent

Applicants begin by submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI). The LOI must include a cover page (one page), a research proposal (maximum five pages) and biographical information on the team (maximum two pages). All documents should follow the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

The cover page must include:

  • the project title;
  • a list of up to 10 keywords;
  • an approximate budget request, by project year;
  • the applicant’s name, affiliation, telephone number and email address;
  • a list of all co-applicants, with affiliation and email address.

The research proposal should include:

  • a description of the main research challenges and activities;
  • a discussion of anticipated participation by collaborators, such as international researchers and government scientists, and their roles;
  • a discussion of anticipated outcomes and benefits;
  • a description of the plans for training of highly qualified personnel;
  • a high level summary of the major budget items with justification.

The biographical information should contain short biographies of the applicant and co-applicants and their areas of expertise.

The LOI should be saved as a single portable document format (PDF) document, and uploaded to NSERC’s secure portal before the deadline.

  1. Full application (If Invited)

Full proposals will be reviewed through a rigorous independent peer review process, undertaken by a multidisciplinary international committee, to assess their eligibility, research merit and potential for benefits to the research community as well as to ensure that sound management and financial practices are implemented. Excellence in terms of the review criteria at the very highest of international standards must be demonstrated for funding to be awarded to the most meritorious proposal. For more information, consult the Instructions for completing an application – Form 101.

Information For Co-applicants

If you need to meet a deadline set by the lead institution for this opportunity, please ensure that you provide the Office of Research with at least five days in advance of the lead institution’s deadline to review the application, or your proposed component of the project. Please be in touch with the Office of Research (contact information below) ahead of the deadline if it looks like it will be difficult for you to submit all the required documentation on time (i.e. budget, proposal, OR-5 Form).

For Questions, please contact

Discovery Frontiers
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 1H5
Tel: 613-947-5636
E-mail: FRONTIERS@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

Office of Research

Amy Bossaer, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist
Office of Research Services
519-824-4120 x58613

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