H.L. Holmes Award for Post-Doctoral Studies

The nomination period for the 2024 Holmes Award will open April, 2024.

The H.L. Holmes Award has been established by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in honour of the late Dr. R.H.L. Holmes, a chemist who spent most of his research career in Alberta.

Bequeathed by the late Dr. Holmes, in recognition of NRC's commitment to promote research excellence, the award gives recipients the opportunity to conduct post-doctoral studies under outstanding researchers at world famous graduate schools or research institutes. Research must be undertaken in chemistry, physics, biology or mathematics as they relate to medical and biological processes.

2021 Holmes Award winner

The 2021 H.L. Holmes Award was presented to Dr. Khalid Al-Zahrani for his novel advancements in breast cancer research. Congratulations to Dr. Al-Zahrani!

Past recipients

  • 2019 – Tae Hun Kim
  • 2017 - Sue Tsai
  • 2015 - HaoSheng Sun
  • 2013 - Arneet L. Saltzman
  • 2011 - Adam Shlien
  • 2009 - Bryan Davies
  • 2007 - Jennifer Estall
  • 2005 - Michael Cowan
  • 2003 - Alison Allan
  • 1997 - Suzanne Demczuk
  • 1994 - Carol Dallaire

Financial support

Awards cover a 1- or 2-year period, depending on available funding and the research proposal, and can have a monetary value of up to $100,000 CDN per year.

Role of the host organization

Host organizations are expected to provide support to award recipients. This could be in the form of facilities, equipment and/or operating resources, and by administering the Award funds.

The H.L. Holmes Award Selection Committee

The H.L. Holmes Award Selection Committee is chaired by the NRC's Departmental Science Advisor / Chief Science Officer. Members include both NRC reviewers and external reviewers.

How to apply

Interested individuals may apply directly by email, or may be nominated by recognized universities or research organizations that are willing to help the candidates conduct their proposed research during the nomination period.

Information for applicants

The objective of the H.L. Holmes Award is to enhance Canadian research in areas of strategic importance through post-doctoral studies at world famous graduate schools or research institutes under outstanding researchers, and in fields related to medical and biological processes. Recipients must acknowledge the NRC and the H.L. Holmes Award when submitting research papers to journals for work accomplished while receiving support from the Award.


Recipients will be chosen according to the following eligibility criteria:

  • The candidate must be a Canadian citizen
  • The candidate must have graduated from a recognized Canadian university
  • The candidate must hold a doctoral degree from either a Canadian university or an outstanding foreign university, received within 5 years immediately before the application deadline
  • The candidate's proposed research must pertain to chemistry, physics, biology or mathematics as they relate to medical and biological processes
  • The candidate must have demonstrated research ability

Selection criteria

In evaluating applications, the H.L. Holmes Award Selection Committee will consider the following criteria:

  • The candidate's demonstrated research experience
  • The scientific merit of the proposed research
  • The assessments of the candidate by persons familiar with the candidate's work
  • The acceptance and support of the host organization


Interested individuals may apply directly. Candidates can also be nominated by Canadian universities or other research organizations willing to support the candidate in carrying out their proposed research. Applications must include:

  • a detailed description of the proposed research project including the duration of the project and budget details (maximum 10 pages total)
  • the proposed location of research
  • the candidate's CV confirming the above eligibility criteria
  • 3 letters assessing the candidate's research ability from persons under whom the candidate has trained or worked
  • a letter from the host organization confirming its willingness to accept the candidate, administer the Award funds and describing the level of support the organization will provide to the candidate


The monetary value and number of awards granted will be established by the selection committee on an individual basis. Each award will cover a 1- or 2-year period, depending on available funding and the research proposal. An award can have a monetary value of up to $100,000 per year.

The award will support all costs directly related to the approved research, except travel expenses. Host organizations must also provide support to the candidate. NRC employees are eligible for the H.L. Holmes Award, provided they meet the selection criteria.

Requests to delay the funding start date for up to 6 months after the successful candidate(s) have been notified of the competition results will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The selection committee reserves the right to terminate an award at any time if the recipient does not remain at the host organization.

Research reports

Recipients of the H.L. Holmes Award will be asked to submit annual research reports to the selection committee for review and evaluation. In addition, recipients will be invited to make a presentation to NRC staff at the end of their 1-year or 2-year term.

Method of payment

The host organization will establish a separate account for the purposes of administering the award funds. The host organization will receive the funds for each year based on a payment plan established by the host organization in consultation with the award recipient. The award recipient will be allocated those funds by the host organization in accordance with this payment plan.

Contact us

For additional information, please contact:

Holmes Award Secretariat
Corporate Secretariat
National Research Council Canada
Email: Holmes.Award@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca