Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Catalyst Research Grant

The Catalyst Research Grant program awards seed funding that allows researchers to develop and test new and innovative research questions and pursue pioneering approaches that have high potential to advance the MS field.

The Catalyst Research Grant is open to all ideas and areas of research. Proposals should address research questions in one or more of the impact goal areas identified in the MS Society of Canada’s (MSSC) strategic plan:

  • Advance Treatment and Care: Research that aims to advance treatment and care for people affected by MS (e.g. symptom management; diagnosis; developing new treatments and understanding their mechanisms, understanding and evaluating interventions to address mental health, wellness/self-care, and rehabilitation in people living with MS; innovations in the provision of health services, clinical care practices and models of care; and advances in healthcare delivery/policy).
  • Enhance Well-being: Research that aims to understand how to enhance the well-being of people affected by MS within communities (e.g. understanding the social determinants of health; assessing the health economics/cost benefit analysis on MS interventions and support structures and systems; evaluation of community-based programs; and advances in health systems research/policy).
  • Understand and Halt Disease Progression: Research that aims to understand the etiology and mechanisms of MS, disease progression, progressive MS, and repair (e.g., myelin biology, neurobiology, neurophysiology, immunology, neuropathology, and imaging).
  • Prevent MS: Research that aims to prevent MS (e.g. identifying risk factors for disease, effective interventions for prevention, health economic/cost benefit analysis on prevention, and defining highest risk populations).

Based on the nature of the research, applicants can apply to one of the following two streams:

  • Biomedical Research Stream
  • Clinical and Population Health Research Stream

Biomedical Research Stream

The Biomedical Research stream supports research which uncovers the biological, pathological, and mechanistic aspects of MS, and provides fundamental knowledge about the development, progression, prevention and treatment of MS disease. Studies can involve in vitro, animal, and/or human models.

Clinical and Population Health Research Stream

The Clinical and Population Health Research stream supports clinical research with the goal of improving diagnosis, treatment, or the health and quality of life of individuals with MS; health services research; encompasses research on, or for the treatment of, people affected by MS; supports population health research that aims to understand the complex, biological, social, cultural and environmental interactions that determine the health of individuals and populations.

Term and Amount

Term: The MSSC supports Catalyst Research Grants for up to two (2) years. These grants are non-renewable.

Amount: The maximum amount that may be requested is $50,000 over the maximum term of the grant.


  • Have an academic or research appointment which allows the individual to pursue the proposed research project to engage in independent research activities.
  • Conduct research within a Canadian institution.
  • Engage in independent research activities for the entire duration of the funding, supervise trainees and publish research activities
  • Test novel, high-risk ideas or interventions that have not been examined in MS or examined to a limited extent.

Important Dates

  • Competition Opens: July 30, 2021
  • Application Deadline: October 1, 2021 at 16:00 EDT
  • Anticipated Notice of Decision: March 2022
  • Funding Start Date: April 1, 2022

Policies and Procedures

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an extraordinary impact on MSSC’s ability to raise funds. This impact is likely to be felt for a number of years to come. Given that we did not provide opportunity to apply for project funding in 2020, we anticipate that we will receive an increased number of applications. It is our intention to support the MS research community by funding as many researchers and projects as possible and ensuring access for our early career researchers.

Those who submit an application in this year’s competition are expected to understand there is limited research funding available. In an effort to fund as many MS researchers and their projects, we ask researchers to apply for only the funding that is needed at this time, and to propose the most promising ideas aimed at improving the lives of people affected by MS. Project budgets will be rigorously assessed by the review committee and MSSC to maximize funding available to as may researchers as possible.

Program Guide


Frequently Asked Questions

What's new this year?

1. The Pilot Research Grant competition is replaced by the Catalyst Research Grant program. Catalyst Research Grants is a new seed funding mechanism to develop and test novel and innovative research questions and pursue pioneering approaches that have high potential to advance the MS field.

2. Catalyst Research Grants provide up to $50,000 over two years and is open to all researchers at any career stage and all areas of research.

3. MSSC will permit trainees as an allowable expense for Catalyst grants. The expectation is that the requested support should be commensurate with the needed capacity to complete the project.

4. Early career researchers (ECRs), who are seeking needed preliminary data, are encouraged to apply to this competition as a stepping stone for success in larger grant funding competitions. ECR definition is consistent with CIHR.

5. Each applicant can submit a maximum of one (1) proposal to the Catalyst Research Grant competition.

6. All applications must be submitted via a new grants and awards management system called ProposalCentral, which can be accessed through the following website: Note that the EasyGrants system will no longer be used to accept applications.

7. Interested applicants must create a profile on ProposalCentral through which they can complete the application process. Applicants are also required to connect their ORCiD identifier, a persistent and unique digital identifier, to the ProposalCentral profile. ORCiD will connect your iD with your professional information (e.g. grants, publications, funding, etc.). If you don’t have an ORCiD, you can easily create one in a few minutes.

8. The MSSC has included an Equity and Diversity section to all grant and award applications. Applicants are encouraged to complete the Equity and Diversity Questionnaire to help us better monitor equity in our programs. Your information will only be seen by authorized MSSC staff and the data collected will only be used in an aggregated form in order to protect the identity of individuals.

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