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I am a PhD student in Bioinformatics at a big university in Canada working in the area of molecular biology and computational models. Due to the nature of medical research, we often approach very tiny problems and often lose the big picture of the real world problem that should be addressed in practice. What I have in mind to do after the PhD is to spend a year or so to study all research aspects of a specific disease (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis) to gain a big picture of everything that is happening within the field and then extend it to some industrial applications. I am wondering if it is common or at least possible to receive a grant for a series of review studies on a field with deliverables like review papers?

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In Canadian grant parlance, I believe the kind of grant you are talking about is called "knowledge synthesis". The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has some information that describes this kind of grant. However, although such a thing exists, it might not be so readily available:

  • The page I linked is rather old (probably at least 5 years old), so I don't know if CIHR still funds this kind of research.

  • I'm not sure how CIHR operates, but I know that SSHRC (for social sciences and humanities) sends out very specific calls from time to time for knowledge synthesis grants specifically for literature reviews (here is a recent example). So, in that case, it is the funding agency that picks the topic, not the researcher.

  • In general, I don't think the major Canadian funding agencies offer this kind of grant directly to post-docs. Normally, it is for faculty members. Post-doc grants are separate, and I'm not sure if they would be fund literature reviews.

Ultimately, as far as CIHR is concerned, it is best to directly ask the scientific director of the specific institute that covers your area of research. They might be able to answer your questions

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