Achievements for Ann

The Backlund Fellowship Competition

Campus Alberta Neuroscience and the ALS Society of Alberta are pleased to announce a new partnership and postdoctoral scholarship. Achievements for Ann – The Backlund Fellowship Competition will support exceptional scholars in Alberta and provide them with the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of research in ALS and neuromuscular diseases. By exploring research to understand the causes, find potential treatments, or enhance the quality of life for those affected, these scholars will play a crucial role in combating these neurodegenerative diseases.

Overview

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes muscle weakness and loss of muscle control, ultimately progressing to paralysis where an individual is left unable to eat or breathe. In most cases, ALS results in premature death in a number of years. With approximately 3,000 Canadians currently living with ALS and no known treatment or cure, investing in research in this field is paramount.

Funding from Achievements for Ann – The Backlund Fellowship Competition will award postdoctoral fellowships of up to $140,000 each to two early-career Alberta researchers in the fields of ALS and neuromuscular disorders.

In addition to its direct impact on advancing scientific knowledge of ALS and the search for effective treatments, funding research in the field of ALS and neuromuscular diseases fosters innovation, knowledge translation, and a culture of education and research in the province. Financial support through programs like the ALS Society of Alberta Postdoctoral Scholarship Competition allows scholars to focus on their novel explorations without the worry of financial constraints. Investing in research in Alberta advances the translation of scientific knowledge into practical, evidence-based applications through dissemination to the broader scientific community, healthcare professionals, and policymakers, leading to positive impacts on the lives of Albertans. It also creates new opportunities for mentorship, training, and collaboration – deepening researchers’ expertise and nurturing a culture of lifelong learning and open knowledge sharing.

Candidates for the ALS Society of Alberta Postdoctoral Scholarship Competition must hold a recent doctoral degree and have, by the time of the application deadline, secured a supervisor in Alberta for an ALS/neuromuscular disorder research project. With more details coming later this year, interested parties should expect to demonstrate their strong academic background and potential, an innovative research idea, and a strong relevance to the ALS Society of Alberta’s mission, “to make each day the best possible day for people living with and affected by ALS.”

Interested in participating in the The Backlund Fellowship?

Notice of Intent (NOI) Applications for the Backlund Fellowship are now open. Please submit your NOI by no later than June 7, 2024 at 12pm (noon) MST. NOIs will be reviewed by the program steering committee, and successful NOIs will be invited to submit Full Applications. Full Applications to the Backlund Fellowship are by invitation only.

Key Dates

Notice of Intent Applications Open March 20, 2024
Upcoming Q&A Webinar TBA
Notice of Intent Deadline  June 7, 2024 at 12pm (noon) MST
Full Applications Deadline

(Full Applications are by invitation only)

August 16, 2024 at 12pm (noon) /mst
Notifications of Decision November 2024
Program Start Early 2025

Application Summary

The scope of this competition describes the eligible research area(s) in which The ALS Society of Alberta and CAN are looking to support Postdoctoral Scholars. This scope is defined broadly and is intended to encourage applications from a diverse array of disciplines and experiences to support projects and scholars with strong potential that align with the ALS Society of Alberta’s mission, “to make each day the best possible day for people living with and affected by ALS.” 

Eligible research projects must be based on a research question or objective that aims to create a positive impact in the fields of ALS and neuromuscular disorders. This can include projects that fall under any of the following four research themes that are in alignment with those outlined by CIHR: biomedical research; clinical research; health services research; and social, cultural, environmental, and population health research. 

Eligible research projects are not limited to any specific faculty or discipline, and multidisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

For more information on the Achievements for Ann – The Backlund Fellowship Program, please refer to the Competition Guidelines.

Notice of Intent Applications Open: March 20, 2024
Notice of Intent Application Deadline: June 7, 2024 by 12pm (noon) MST
Full Application (by invitation only) Deadline: August 16, 2024 by 12pm (noon) MST
Notifications of Decision: Winter 2024

The ALS Society of Alberta, in partnership with CAN, will provide two (2) awards of up to CAD $140,000 total funding per award for a period of two years each. Funding terms will start in January 2025 at the earliest. Funding terms must begin within 11 months following the application deadline.

Supervisors must agree to provide top-up support for successful Applicants of at least CAD $10,000 plus benefits. Funding may be used only as salary for the awarded Postdoctoral Scholar and may not be used for benefits, WCB, or other non-salary expenses.

Funding may be used only as salary for the awarded scholar and may not be used for benefits, WCB, or other non-salary expenses.

Applicant
  • Canadian citizenship is not a requirement, but the Applicant must be affiliated with a degree-granting research institution in Alberta for the term of this award.
  • At the start of the funding term, the Applicant must have five or fewer years of full-time training after completing a doctoral degree. Applicants may be currently working toward a PhD at the time of the application submission, but must have obtained the degree before funding commences.
  • The Applicant must identify a research Supervisor according to the criteria below.
  • Over the term of this award, the Applicant must demonstrate a significant contribution to the proposed research project in the fields of ALS and neuromuscular disorders and spend at least 60% of the funding term conducting research.
  • The Applicant must be able to comply with the Terms and Conditions of the award, as outlined below.
Supervisor
  • The Supervisor must conduct research in the fields of ALS and neuromuscular disorders, with preference given to those currently working in collaboration with an ALS Clinic in Alberta.
  • The Supervisor must hold a full-time faculty position at a degree-granting institution in Alberta, including the University of Alberta, Calgary, or Lethbridge.
  • The Supervisor can only supervise one Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded from this competition, i.e., a Supervisor can only be associated with a single Applicant.
Research Project
  • The proposed research project must have a research question or objectives directly related to ALS and/or neuromuscular disorders.
  • The proposed project must be conducted within Alberta with the intent of being conducted in affiliation with one of the ALS Clinics in Alberta.
  • Higher priority will be given to projects which:
    • are multidisciplinary, have meaningful involvement of knowledge users, or are otherwise committed to a collaborative approach to research, as applicable
    • ethically and sensitively integrate considerations for SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus), EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), and involvement of Indigenous Peoples, as applicable
    • are committed to knowledge translation of research results and findings, via education, publication, commercialization, etc. See below for more information on Knowledge Translation as it pertains to this competition. 
Application to the Backlund Fellowship Program follows a two-stage process:

  1. Notice of Intent (NOI), to be submitted via the Online Notice of Intent Submission. The NOI will be used for eligibility screening. The NOI must be received before the deadline on June 7, 2024.
  2. Full Application, to be submitted through the online Full Application submission. A personalized link will be sent to the applicant once the NOI has been screened and approved. The Full Application must be received before the deadline on August 16, 2024.

It is imperative that the NOI and Full Application are proofread before submission; changes after the deadline are not allowed. Only a single NOI and Full Application will be accepted per applicant. A list of application questions is provided in the Application Guidelines for reference only.

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure the application submission adheres to all requirements and is submitted before the deadline.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the full Competition Guidelines.

Applicants intending to submit a Full Application to this program are required to submit a NOI electronically through the Online Notice of Intent Submission.

The purpose of the NOI is to provide necessary information in planning for peer review.  NOIs will be used to ensure that all applicants are eligible for this program as per the Competition Guidelines. As such, CAN and the Program team reserve the right to contact any applicant to suggest revisions or retraction of the intent to apply.

NOIs must be received before the deadline in on June 7, 2024. A personal link providing access to the Full Application Submission will be sent to the Applicant once the NOI has been received and approved.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the Competition Guidelines.

Full Applications must be submitted electronically through the online application submission, accessed via a personal link sent to the applicant after their NOI has been approved.

It is imperative that the Full Application is proofread before submission; changes to the Full Application after the deadline are not allowed. Only a single copy of a Full Application will be accepted. The use of a personal submission link will allow applicants to leave a submission and come back to it, saving any progress that has been made.

Full Applications and supporting letters must be received in completion before the deadline on August 16, 2024 at 12pm (noon) MST.  Letters from Supervisors and Letters of Recommendation should be submitted with the Full Application where possible, but may be emailed to CAN (abneuro@ucalgary.ca) directly from the referee if required.

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure the application submission adheres to all requirements and is received, including supporting letters, before the deadline.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the Competition Guidelines.

The Full Application requires two types of supporting letters: one Supervisor Support Letter and two Letters of Recommendation.

The Supervisor Support Letter must include: a list of postdoctoral scholars in the supervisor’s associated program and the current source of their funding; a list of the supervisor’s currently funded grants (if not in their CCV); confirmation of commitment by the supervisor to support the applicant with all necessary elements for conducting the research project; an outline of professional development and growth opportunities available for the applicant at the host institution; a brief outline of how the research environment (tools and facilities, available expertise, supervisor’s own investigations) will contribute to and synchronize with the applicant’s proposed research project; and a description of why the supervisor recommends the applicant for the Achievements for Ann – The Backlund Fellowship Program.

The application requires the applicant to identify two individuals (referees) who can provide letters of recommendation. It is suggested that the applicant choose referees who can speak directly to their academic and research strengths, abilities, and achievements (current and past supervisors are recommended). Letters should focus on these areas, but may additionally address the quality and potential of the proposed research project and the applicant’s potential for professional development and career growth. The identified supervisor cannot be used as a referee.

The Supervisor Support Letter and Letters of Recommendation should be submitted with the Full Application, but may be emailed to CAN (abneuro@ucalgary.ca) directly from the supervisor or referee, if required.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the Competition Guidelines.

All eligible and complete applications will undergo peer review by individuals with expertise in ALS and/or neuromuscular research as related to the program scope. Any conflict of interest will be taken into consideration when assigning reviewers.

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of merit of the application and supervision team, quality of the research project and environment, and relevance to the goals of the Program. Specifically, applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Academic qualifications, research experience, and leadership potential of the applicant
  • Supervisor’s expertise and relevance to the applicant’s proposed research project
  • Applicant “fit” for the program
  • Feasibility of the proposed research project
  • Innovativeness and potential impact of the proposed research project,
  • Appropriateness of the research environment for the proposed research, including access to expertise, tools, and connections required to successfully carry out the project as well as opportunities and plans for the applicant’s professional development and growth
  • Letters of recommendation

Special consideration will be given to projects which:

  • are novel or involve a novel collaboration, i.e., not a continuation of an existing project
  • are multidisciplinary, have meaningful involvement of knowledge users, or are otherwise committed to a collaborative approach to research, as applicable
  • ethically and sensitively integrate consideration for diversity and traditionally underrepresented groups, including principles of SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus), EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), and/or framework for respectful involvement of Indigenous Peoples, as applicable
  • are committed to knowledge translation of research results and findings, via education, publication, clinical or policy implementation, commercialization, etc.

A maximum of two (2) applicants will be invited to participate based on the review committee evaluations. The Program team and CAN will not enter discussion on specific items in the review process or reasons for the rejection of applications. All decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

For complete information on the review process, please refer to the Competition Guidelines.

Successful applicants must accept their offer within ten (10) business days of receiving the notification of decision from CAN. An acceptance form will be provided and must be returned with supporting documentation to CAN by email, signed by all relevant parties, within this timeframe. Any potential conditions or required clarifications and their related timelines will be outlined with the offer. Failure to comply with this requirement may lead to withdrawal of the offer.

Successful applicants, on acceptance of their offer, will be provided with funding of up to CAN $70,000 over a period of two years. Payment of funds is dependent on compliance with program requirements and deliverables. Funding may be used only as salary for the awarded scholar and may not be used for benefits, WCB, or other non-salary expenses. Onboarding of the successful applicant and any other fellowship, research, or employment requirements from the host institution will be the sole responsibility of the supervisor.

All successful applicants, on acceptance of funding, will be required to submit verification of their term start date with the host institution and all applicable ethics certifications and approvals, or proof that they will be in place before research commences.

For complete information on the Terms and Conditions, please refer to the Competition Guidelines.

Full Competition Guidelines may be found HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Notice of Intent submission deadline is June 7, 2024.

The Full Application deadline is August 16, 2024.

The applicant must:

  • Be affiliated with a Alberta post-secondary institution
  • Have less than 5 years of full-time training after completion of a doctoral degree
    • Current PhD students can apply if their degree will be completed before the program start date

The proposed supervisor must:

  • Hold a full-time faculty position at a degree-granting research institution in Alberta
  • Conduct research primarily in the field of ALSAND/or neuromuscular diseases
  • Only supervise one scholar awarded from this competition; i.e., a supervisor can only be associated with a single applicant

The proposed research project:

  • must be conducted within Alberta
  • must have a research question or objectives directly related to ALS and/or neuromuscular diseases
  • should be a novel project or a novel collaboration (i.e., not a continuation of an existing project)

Preference will be given to projects which:

  • are novel projects or novel collaborations
  • have potential to improve quality of life and care for those living with ALS and/or related neuromuscular diseases
  • are multidisciplinary, have meaningful involvement of knowledge users, or are otherwise committed to a collaborative approach to research (as applicable)
  • ethically and sensitively integrate consideration for diversity and traditionally underrepresented groups, including principles of SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus), EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), and/or framework for the respectful involvement of Indigenous Peoples (as applicable)
  • are committed to knowledge translation of research results and findings, via education, publication, clinical or policy implementation, commercialization, etc.

Up to two (2) applicants will be awarded $70,000 per year for a period of two years.

The application is a two-stage process. First, the applicant must submit a Notice of Intent through the online submission. This must be completed by June 7, 2024 at noon (MT). Then, the applicant must submit a Full Application through the online submission, due by August 16, 2024 at noon (MT). For more information on what each stage requires, please see the Competition Guidelines.

All eligible and completed applications will undergo peer review by individuals with expertise in data science, advanced analytics and neuroscience as related to the program scope. Any Conflict of Interest will be taken into consideration when assigning reviewers.

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of merit of the applicant and supervision team, quality of the research project and environment, and relevance to the goals of the Program. Specifically, applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Academic qualifications, research experience, and leadership potential of the Applicant
  • Supervisor’s expertise and relevance to the Applicant’s proposed research project
  • Applicant “fit” for the program
  • Feasibility of the proposed research project
  • Innovativeness and potential impact of the proposed research project
  • Appropriateness of the research environment for the proposed research, including access to expertise, tools, and connections required to successfully carry out the project as well as opportunities and plans for the Applicant’s professional development and growth
  • Letters of recommendation

Special consideration will be given to projects which:

  • are novel or involve a novel collaboration, i.e. not a continuation of an existing project.
  • are multidisciplinary, have meaningful involvement of knowledge users, or are otherwise committed to a collaborative approach to research, as applicable.
  • ethically and sensitively integrate consideration for diversity and traditionally underrepresented groups, including principles of SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus), EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), and/or framework for respectful involvement of Indigenous Peoples, as applicable.
  • are committed to knowledge translation of research results and findings, via education, publication, clinical or policy implementation, commercialization, etc.

Reviewers will evaluate applications using a scoring system. Applications with scores falling within the fundable range will be discussed at the review committee meeting. The review committee and CAN will submit recommendations for funding to the Program team. Funding decisions will be based on the review committee evaluations and availability of funds for the competition. The Program team and CAN will not enter discussion on specific items in the review process or reasons for the rejection of applications. All decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

Applicants selected for funding will be notified in writing in Winter 2024 (date is tentative and subject to change) and at that time will be required to accept the terms and conditions of the award. It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to ensure that CAN and the Program team are provided with current contact information and to notify of any changes to the contact information provided in the original application.

There will be no formal review or feedback for the Notice of Intent – you will be notified if there are significant changes requested. Once the NOI has been approved, you will receive an email with a link to the Full Application.

Award notifications will be distributed in Winter 2024 (date may be subject to change).

Successful applicants will receive an offer with their notification of decision from CAN. The offer must be accepted within ten (10) business days of receipt. A funding acceptance form will be provided with the notice of award and must be returned with supporting documentation to CAN by email, signed by both the successful applicant and their supervisor, within this timeframe. Any potential funding conditions or required clarifications and their related timelines will be outlined with the offer. Failure to comply with this requirement may lead to withdrawal of the offer.

Successful applicants, on acceptance of their offer, will be provided with funding of up to CAD $70,000 over a period of two years. Payment of funds is dependent on compliance with program requirements and deliverables. Supervisors are required to provide top-up support for successful Applicants of at least CAD $10,000 plus benefits. Funding may be used only as salary for the awarded Scholar and may not be used for benefits, WCB, or other non-salary expenses.

Onboarding of the successful applicant and any other fellowship, research, or employment requirements from the host institution will be the sole responsibility of the supervisor. 

Please ensure you have read the Competition Guidelines for any information you may need to complete your application.

If you are interested in applying to this program and require further information, please contact Campus Alberta Neuroscience at abneuro@ucalgary.ca with the subject line “Backlund Fellowship Program”.

Generously funded by:

The ALS Society of Alberta is a non-profit organization dedicated to making each day the best possible day for people living with and affected by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). It is the only non-profit organization in Alberta that provides support to those affected by the disease, and also supports the national ALS research program.

This program is made possible through the support of our partners:

Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN), established in 2012 with support from the Government of Alberta, is a province-wide neuroscience network connecting the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge to increase the impact of neuroscience and mental health research, education and translation, developing the province as an epicenter for neuroscience excellence. For more information, please visit albertaneuro.ca.