MRC fund to improve public involvement in discovery science

A group of scientists in mid discussion

Researchers can seek support for projects up to £625,000 to improve the design and practice of public involvement in non-clinical health and biomedical research.

Non-clinical research is an area that has traditionally been seen as harder to involve the public, patients, carers and communities.

The fund aims to support the development of toolkits that can be widely used to enrich public involvement in research.

It will support the mission of the Medical Research Council (MRC)-National Institute for Health and Care Research’s Better Methods, Better Research (BMBR) programme.

The programme’s mission is to ensure that optimal research methods are being used to advance biomedical, health and care-focused research, policy and delivery.

Results will help other researchers and funders

We are asking researchers to embrace the power of collaboration by including public contributors and professionals in their teams, and tackle gaps in public involvement by building on existing good practice.

The results produced will be aimed at other researchers, funders and public contributors to improve public involvement.

Research themes could include public involvement in fundamental research, such as:

  • cell biology or biochemistry
  • data science research such as statistical modelling or machine learning
  • methodological research such as epidemiology, health economics and clinical trials methodology

Co-creation from the outset

This funding opportunity is one of the first from MRC to involve public contributors right from the outset.

Public contributors sit on the advisory group that developed the opportunity and will work side by side with the BMBR Panel throughout the decision-making process for allocating funding.

Ruby Bhatti OBE DL, advisory group member, said:

Getting involved in research as a public contributor brings amazing results which truly have an impact on future treatment’s for patients like me. We work with researchers who value our input and passion and work alongside with us at every stage of the project.

The voice and lived experience we bring from all walks of life helps researchers to understand what works well and what needs improving. The research then benefits us, our children and further generations to come.

Report backs deeper involvement in non-clinical research

A recent MRC landscape review found there was enthusiasm and appetite for public involvement across all areas of research, including non-clinical research.

Researchers, public participants and funders see public involvement as important for improving research quality, relevance, transparency and trust.

The report said non-clinical research should not be seen as a ‘special area’ and now was the time for MRC to foster greater inclusivity through supporting public involvement.

Dr Rosalind Roberts, MRC Programme Manager for BMBR, said:

Co-developing the opportunity with the advisory group will drive up the quality of applications we receive, as they challenged us to make sure proposals include meaningful public involvement and that redundant tools are not created.

I am grateful for their guidance and patience and am looking forward to the applications we will receive – and that they will be involved in assessing.

Further information

The funding opportunity opens on 10 April 2024 and closes at 4pm 12 June 2024.

Find out more and apply on the funding finder when the opportunity opens.

A briefing webinar was held on 21 February.

Watch the briefing webinar on Zoom.

Passcode: rq!#9G7a

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

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