This week, the University of Montreal announced the creation of 20 new C$150,000 grants (over 3 years) for young scientists doing health sciences research. The new program, entitled "Relève Médecine 2000," was created as a direct response to the Canadian brain drain, which has hit Quebec hard: "In 1998, 78 'brains' left Canada, and only 11 were recruited [from abroad by the school]," explains Patrick Vinay, the dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Montreal. The program tries to combat this brain drain by offering young Ph.D.s and postdocs a research experience competitive with that being offered south of the border.
"We believe these grants will offer a good experience and good conditions [and will] encourage young science professionals to stay in Quebec until better positions open in universities," explains Jean Dermine, assistant vice dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Montreal. He believes these better positions will be opening soon: "We think that, by 2004, the situation will get better at many universities, since many will reach their zero deficit [targets], and many professors will retire."
The new grants are a direct action of the university and its affiliated hospitals and are a clear message to the government (the more traditional source of grants of this type) that more money is needed for scientific positions. "We want to signal the alarm about the situation of health research in Quebec," states Serge Montplaisir, responsible for faculty development at the University of Montreal. "It's necessary to invest in our brains, not only in bricks and concrete."
These 20 grants will be used as salary support to scientists with Ph.D.s or postdocs, for positions in health research at various university teaching hospitals. Thirteen grants are officially announced; the details of the seven other grants will be announced before the new millennium.
Specific details about the 13 new grants, how to apply, and the screening process will be available at the newly developed "Relève Médecine 2000" Web site starting in September. First grant winners will be announced at midnight (GMT) on 31 December 1999.