Nancy McKinstry Trainee Excellence Award

*EXTENDED* Application Deadline: June 3, 2024
Results Announcement: by August 2024
Award Start Date: September 1, 2024


Nancy McKinstry, a former Vancouver investment advisor and vice president at Odlum Brown, has made the most of “a second life,” after successfully undergoing extensive treatment for clear cell ovarian cancer in 2005. Now, a recent recurrence of the same cancer has her even more grateful for these past 18 years — and even more determined to give back to BC Cancer through an endowment fund for ovarian cancer research.  

Nancy is continuing to advocate for other women facing ovarian cancer by encouraging everyone to invest in further research in prevention, diagnostics, treatment and survivorship through OVCARE, B.C.’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program. Together with her husband, Greg, Nancy has created the Nancy McKinstry Endowment Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research which is held at the BC Cancer Foundation. The goal of the endowment fund is to attract and retain the brightest minds to the ovarian cancer research team. 

This year, through GCI’s merit-based Trainee Excellence Award competition, the Nancy McKinstry Endowment will assist in the training of future researchers by supporting and recognizing graduate students demonstrating a high degree of research excellence and potential. 

Award Value

One Trainee Excellence Award valued at $5,000 will be available. The supervisor of the successful applicant must agree to provide this award as a one-time salary top-up to the trainee. 


Applicants must be enrolled in full-time graduate studies (Master’s, PhD, or MD-PhD) within the province of British Columbia at time of application submission. Only applicants with research projects focused on ovarian cancer will be considered, with preference given to clear cell ovarian cancer projects. 

Selection Criteria

Applicants will be evaluated by the selection committee based on the following the criteria: 

Research Potential and Productivity

• Quality and originality of contributions to research 

• Significance, feasibility, and merit of proposed research 

• Relevance of work experience or academic training to current field of study 

• Critical thinking skills 

• Initiative and autonomy 

• Ability to apply skills and knowledge 

• Enthusiasm for research 

*The applicant’s current stage in their research training (first year Master’s student, fourth year PhD student etc.) will be taken into consideration 

Communication, Leadership, and Interpersonal Skills

• Work experience 

• Leadership and project management experience 

• Involvement in academic life 

• Ability or potential to communicate scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral formats 

• Community outreach/volunteering experience, especially working with diverse members of the community with respect to age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, economic status, etc.  

Application Requirements – Deadline: June 3, 2024

Applications for this competition will be required to include: 

1. Personal Statement. Please answer the following questions: 

  • What led you to pursue graduate studies in your current field of research? (Max 250 words) 
  • What skills or experiences have you attained outside of the lab (such as from work or volunteer experiences) that will contribute to your success as an aspiring researcher? (Max 250 words) 

2. Outline of Proposed Research. Use Times New Roman 12-point font, single line spacing, and normal/standard character spacing. Page size no larger than 8.5 inches x 11.0 inches. Margins at least 0.5 inches in all directions. Provide a description of your proposed research project, including the following: background information, objectives and hypothesis, description of experimental design and methods, and the significance of the proposed research to your field of study. If you had applied for the Canadian Graduate Scholarships program or similar scholarship opportunities, we encourage you to adapt content from these applications. (Max 1 page) 

3. References/Bibliography. References may be submitted in any format. (Max 1 page) 

4. Curriculum Vitae. Provide your CV in any format. 

5. Supervisor(s) Contact Information. Note that we will be reaching out to supervisors to complete a supervisor reference assessment form – this process will take place  after you have submitted your application. 

IMPORTANT: Please note that all applications for this competition will require a signature package to be submitted through the appropriate institutional body prior to the submission deadline. Please review the  FAQ section for signature package submission guidelines. 

For questions about this funding opportunity or the application process, contact Vivian Lac ( Applicants will receive an email confirming receipt of their application on June 4, 2024