Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Applied Global Health Research Board grants: Oct 2020

Funding is available from MRC’s Applied Global Health Research Board to support research that will benefit the health of vulnerable populations living in low and middle income countries (LMIC). We particularly welcome cross-sector research that combines expertise to meet a global health challenge with a health-focused aim.

We encourage applications from LMIC principal investigators as well as those based in the UK and working in partnership with LMIC investigators.

We will accept proposals of all sizes, including large research projects over £1 million and small to medium-scale applications.

Who can apply

We particularly encourage applications from principal investigators in LMIC, as well as principal investigators who are based in the UK and working in equal partnership with LMIC investigators.

If you are a LMIC principal investigator or co-investigator, you must be based at one of the following:

  • higher education institution
  • non-profit research institution
  • non-governmental organisation with sufficient research capacity to manage and deliver research.

Find out about eligibility requirements for research organisations and institutes.

Co-investigators can also be based at an implementing partner’s premises, including government ministries. You should check with your research office whether previous applications have been awarded by MRC or UKRI. If they have not, you should email us before you apply to check if you are eligible –

You must not be a principal investigator on more than two proposals at any one time. You may support others as a co-investigator, as long as you have the capacity to do so without detriment to the project you are leading.

Researchers from high-income countries outside of the UK may be co-investigators provided their requested costs are not more than 30% of the proposal total project costs.

Working in China and India

Institutions based in China or India are not eligible to be the principal investigator but we welcome them as international co-investigators.

Partnerships with co-investigators from China or India must have global or regional development impact as their main objective, with local or national impacts within China or India as secondary objectives. We expect international co-investigators from China and India will make a significant contribution to their own research costs, including covering their own overheads.

Applicants working in India or China who wish to apply are strongly advised to contact the office for guidance as early as possible please contact:

What we're looking for

The Applied Global Health Research Board supports applied research that will be of direct and primary benefit to the health of vulnerable populations living in low and middle income countries. We’re looking for research projects that will develop practical solutions to health challenges. This includes:

  • implementation research
  • scale-up activities
  • health services research
  • health economics
  • health policy research
  • research with a predominantly applied focus that does not fit within the remit of other MRC boards and panels.

We also welcome cross-sector research that combines expertise to meet a global health challenge (such as urban planning, health policy and non-communicable disease research) within a single proposal. The research question might involve different disciplines and approaches from outside the health sector, but the primary objective must be health focused.

The resources you request should be appropriate to the objectives of your proposal. We will accept proposals of all sizes, including large applications over £1 million and small to medium-scale applications. We will take into account value for money when assessing proposals.

You can apply for funding to address any health topic of relevance in the context where the research will be conducted.

Three grant schemes are available through the Applied Global Health Research Board:

You must also read the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the Applied Global Health Research Board (PDF, 385KB). This document provides details of our assessment criteria and how this funding opportunity differs from other MRC awards.

Funding for the Applied Global Health Research Board forms part of the UK’s official development assistance commitment. Your proposal must show that your research is relevant and directly linked to near-term benefits to the health and economic development of the poorest and most vulnerable populations within low and middle income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s development assistance countries list, except for India and China.

Capacity building as part of your application

We are committed to strengthening research capacity within low and middle income countries and the UK. We expect all grants funded through this board to contribute to the development of fair and sustainable global research systems.

If your outline proposal is successful, we will ask you to complete a capacity-building annex as part of your full submission. We encourage you to start discussing priorities as early as possible, in consultation with key stakeholders, both within and outside of your project team. For example, researchers, laboratory technicians, data collectors, field workers, managers, practitioners, policymakers and research management offices.

We will ask you to describe your long-term capacity building goals, as well as planned activities within your research project. We will assess your proposed approach to capacity building as part of the review process.

Find out more about the review process in the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the Applied Global Health Research Board (PDF, 385KB).

Examples of capacity building include, but are not limited to:

  • building leadership skills among early career researchers
  • opportunities for mutual learning across the project team (such as through staff exchanges)
  • building capacity to working collaboratively, across disciplines and across practice-research boundaries (for example with policy-makers, managers and practitioners in the system)
  • providing mentoring to improve the capacity of less-experienced researchers to generate new knowledge and achieve policy impact
  • team members attending training courses to develop specific expertise or obtain relevant qualifications (excluding Masters and PhDs)
  • opportunities for staff and associated health managers to author or co-author journal and conference papers and participate in national and international conferences
  • building organisational capacity (for example, in management, finance or communications)
  • formation of low and middle income countries research networks.

Find out more about capacity building.

Although new investigator research grants are not available through the Applied Global Health Research Board, we are committed to supporting early career researchers in applied global health. The board will consider each applicant’s career stage and proposed mentorship arrangements during funding discussions.

Areas we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • discovery research, and research that includes an applied component that fits within a current board or panel remit, including early translation
  • health systems research within the remit of the DFID, ESRC, MRC or Wellcome health systems research initiative
  • large-scale clinical trials (for example, within MRC developmental pathway funding scheme
  • remit if phase I/II or MRC-DFID-Wellcome-National Institute for Health Research joint global health trials remit if phase III/IV)
  • global public health intervention development up to £150,000 and led by a UK principal investigator (within the public health intervention development scheme remit). Proposals costing more than £150,000 or led by an LMIC principal investigator are eligible to apply to the board
  • vaccine development research (such as within Infections and Immunity Board and developmental pathway funding scheme remits).

Board opportunities

There are two types of funding opportunity:

  • ring-fenced opportunities which deliver a defined financial commitment to a specific area of focus
  • prioritised opportunities which are areas of strategic interest.

These opportunities represent areas of specific strategic focus that help to inform discussions at funding meetings but you can submit research proposals that focus on any applied global health topic.

Ring-fenced opportunities

Maternal and neonatal health

MRC’s work in this area is informed by the MRC-National Institute for Health Research overview of global maternal and neonatal health research priorities.

Prioritised opportunities

Early childhood development

The board supports research in early childhood development, a recent area of focus that bridges the gap between neonatal health and adolescent health, during a critical period when health and education intersect. Proposals in this area will be co-funded by the UK Department for International Development as part of a coordinated effort to increase and scale up the evidence base for early childhood development interventions.

Adolescent health

Adolescent health has been a recent focus of investment for MRC and the Department for International Development (via the MRC-DFID concordat) and the National Institute for Health Research, in partnership with ESRC.

Implementation science

Maximising impact from research remains a priority for MRC. To ensure that we meet this priority, we are funding research to address the implementation gap and progress interventions towards real-world impact. This complements existing applied global health schemes addressing late-phase trials and health systems research, by providing a regular funding opportunity for research using robust implementation science approaches. We expect this research to ensure that evidence-based health interventions are implemented in an accessible and fair way for the poorest and most vulnerable populations living in low and middle income countries.

How to apply

You must apply using the joint electronic submission (Je-S) system.

We recommend you start your application early. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

When applying select ‘New document’ then:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: outline proposal
  • scheme: standard outline
  • call/type/mode: applied Global Health Research Board Outline 2 2020
  • select: create document.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

How we will assess your application

We will assess your proposal in two stages:

  • Stage one – external experts and an independent board will review your outline proposal
  • Stage two – if your outline proposal is successful, we will invite you to submit a full application. We will use an external peer review process followed by a more detailed review by the board.

The assessment process will take around nine months from the outline proposal submission deadline to the final decision.

We will provide guidance on how to prepare a full proposal if you are successful at stage one, along with feedback from the initial review.

Contact details

If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal or if you are not sure which board to apply to, email MRC international – – and we will forward your enquiry to the relevant programme manager:

  • programme manager for global health challenges (maternal and neonatal health, early child development, ageing, multimorbidity, non-communicable disease, mental health, neurodegeneration: Dr Philip Woodgate –
  • programme manager for global health strategy (global health trials, implementation science, health systems research, infectious disease, adolescent health, capacity building): Dr Caroline Harris –
  • UKRI challenge manager for global health (urban health, planetary health, inter-sectoral global health research): Dr David Pan –

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