£50m MRC CoRE funding opportunity: round two research themes

A laboratory classroom with a group of female science students working.

MRC Major Investments Board has confirmed the research themes for the second round of MRC Centres of Research Excellence (MRC CoRE) opportunity.

Our second annual funding round will be open from 25 September 2023 to 7 February 2024.

In each round we will award funding for up to two Medical Research Council (MRC) CoREs.

Collectively, these centres of research excellence will create a dynamic portfolio of MRC strategic research investments.


The MRC CoRE funding model will be transformational to biomedical and health research.

MRC CoREs will improve health and wellbeing for all by enhancing approaches to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease. They will:

  • support bold and ambitious research on a defined challenge
  • focus on distinct, disruptive, or multi and interdisciplinary research and innovation
  • have the potential to prove transformative to the field within 14 years

Round two themes

For this funding round we will welcome applications to address challenges and substantial unmet needs around the following themes:

  • enhancing healthspan
  • immune regulation
  • molecular mechanisms to inform cancer intervention

Enhancing healthspan

Challenges in focused areas of ageing research to achieve a step change in increasing healthy life expectancy.

Immune regulation

Scientific challenges to illuminate how the immune system interacts with and is shaped by other biological systems, at different stages of life, by environmental stimuli or in response to pathogen challenges.

Molecular mechanisms to inform cancer intervention

Challenges investigating the molecular mechanisms associated with tumour development, growth, metastasis and recurrence to develop a more integrated understanding of cancer biology and accelerate progress towards future development of mechanism-informed interventions.

The pre-announcement funding opportunity includes further information on the themes.

Full details of each theme’s scope will be available when the outline funding opportunity opens on UKRI’s new Funding Service on 25 September 2023.

Opportunity for impact

Dr Rob Buckle, MRC Chief Science Officer:

MRC CoREs will provide a more flexible way to support bold, internationally leading research in strategic areas with clear opportunity for impact.

The MRC CoREs from our inaugural funding round, to be announced in the new year, will provide the initial exciting step in establishing flagship research investments to address the critical health research challenges we face.

I look forward to welcoming the second cohort of applicants which will bring forward ideas for dynamic solutions to the knowledge gaps and technological barriers that are holding back progress in the fields of ageing, immunology and cancer research, and its application.

Major Investments Board

The themes for MRC CoREs are decided by the MRC Major Investments Board. The board considers several factors, including:

  • scientific opportunity and timeliness
  • potential for generation of fundamental knowledge and impact on health
  • alignment with the MRC strategic delivery plan and other ongoing strategic activities

Support for potential applicants

We will hold a webinar in November 2023, date to be confirmed.

The webinar will provide information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions.

Further information

The MRC CoRE funding opportunity is an annual opportunity. Round one was launched in October 2022 and will conclude in March 2024.

Learn more about MRC Centres of Research Excellence.

Top image:  Credit: SolStock, E+ via Getty Images

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