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Drug discovery Subsidy Fund Application

Purpose of the award

The Drug Discovery Subsidy Fund (DDSF) provides funding aimed at encouraging and supporting SickKids investigators to pursue their interests in high-throughput drug screening in partnership with the SPARC BioCentre. The fund provides investigators the opportunity to initiate drug screening experiments and generate data that can then be used to apply for external grant funding, to support future drug screening research with SPARC.


December 1, 2016.  Must be emailed to Leanne.wybenga-groot@sickkids.ca in one single PDF.
Incomplete and/or late applications will not be accepted. Hard copies will not be accepted.

Eligibility criteria 

  1. At the time of subsidy application and drug screening, applicants must be training or employed at SickKids.
  2. The proposed drug screen must be conducted in partnership with the SPARC BioCentre.
  3. The fund can only subsidize pilot screens of assays not previously validated at SPARC and screens that have not yet acquired external funding.

Evaluation criteria

Projects will be evaluated according to assay readiness, feasibility, and likeliness to succeed, as well as innovation of the screen and potential impact on human health.

Application procedures

  1. Applicants must submit an electronic copy of their application including a signed copy of the application cover page, in PDF format, to leanne.wybenga-groot@sickkids.ca
  2. Applicants will be invited to present their proposal to the DDSF Committee on the afternoon of December 14, 2016 (1-4 pm).  Applicants will be given 5 minutes to summarize their proposal in 3 slides.  The committee will be given 10 minutes to discuss the proposal with the applicant and provide feedback. This exercise is not meant to be adversarial but rather to provide clarity for both applicant and committee. 
  3. Applications are reviewed and evaluated by the DDSF Committee.
  4. Applicants are notified of whether their application has been approved for funding approximately one month following the deadline.  

Funding amount

A typical pilot sized screen (500-5000 compounds) costs $4,000 - $8,000, depending on whether the assay is cell-free or cell-based, the type of assay readout, the time required to validate the assay, and the ability to automate the screen.  The intention of the DDSF is to reduce this cost to $1,000 - $4,000 for SickKids investigators.  No funds will be issued to the investigator; instead, the invoice for the completed drug screen will be credited by the amount of the DDSF award.  The DDSF may also be applied to larger-scale screens if the assay has been fully validated and deemed promising.


Multiple trainees per supervisor or multiple projects per supervisor may be submitted for DDSF funding.  Funding success is subject to funding availability.  Projects that do not receive funding may be resubmitted in subsequent competitions after consultation with the SPARC Drug Discovery Project Manager.

Procedure if DDSF award is granted

If a DDSF subsidy is secured, then you will be asked to meet with the SPARC drug discovery team to discuss how to proceed with your screening project and the timeline of your screen.  SPARC will work with you to determine a budget for the screen, and how much of this cost will be subidized by the DDSF award.  If the cost to the PI is deemed too much, then they are free to withdraw from the competition and decline the DDSF award.  If the cost is acceptable to the PI, then the PI will be required to pay $1,000 to SPARC BioCentre to initiate the assay validation and screening process.  


Please feel free to contact the Drug Discovery Project Manager, Leanne Wybenga-Groot at 647-822-3897 or leanne.wybenga-groot@sickkids.ca should you have any questions regarding your DDSF application or the drug screening process in general.  We are happy to discuss your drug screening ideas and help with assay development/design.