Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Applied global health research

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Apply for funding to support research that will address global health challenges and inequities.

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

We are looking to develop a portfolio of high quality global research, which will be diverse, promote multidisciplinarity and strengthen global health research capacity.

We encourage applications from principal investigators based in:

  • low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)
  • UK, working in partnership with LMIC investigators.

Who can apply

You can apply for this opportunity if you are a researcher based at an eligible research organisation. These include:

  • universities or higher education institutions based in the UK or low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with degree-awarding powers recognised by the government in which the organisation is based
  • research focused institutes based in LMICs either funded by the government of the country in which the organisation is based or by a not-for-profit organisation
  • research focused not-for-profit organisations based in LMICs with dedicated research capacity
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations or NHS bodies
  • public sector research establishments
  • MRC institutes
  • MRC units and partnership institutes (including those in Gambia and Uganda)
  • institutes and units funded by other research councils.

You must have a graduate degree, although we expect most applicants to have a PhD.

For more details on institutional and individual eligibility, read the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board in the ‘Additional info’ section.

MRC particularly encourages applications from:

  • overseas researchers based in LMICs
  • researchers who are eligible to apply for MRC funding and working in equitable partnership with LMIC researchers.

For a list of LMIC countries, see the Development Assistance Committee list of official development assistance recipient countries.

The board recognises that applied global health research requires the involvement of a diverse range of collaborating organisations in order to affect sustainable change. As such, applications involving a not-for-profit organisation based in an LMIC will be eligible to be named co-investigators. This can include grass-roots organisations and community groups.

Researchers not eligible to apply

If you are a researcher based in China or India, you are no longer eligible to be a principal investigator. However, you are welcome to apply as a co-investigator, with an eligible research organisation as the lead.

It is expected that researchers from China, India and any high-income countries (HICs) make a significant contribution to their own research costs, including covering their own overheads.

Limit on the number of proposals

You must not be included as 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.

Diversity of skills and collaboration

We recognise the diversity of skills necessary for a successful research team, and encourage proposals to recognise the contribution of technical professionals. This includes through the use of researcher co-investigator status, as appropriate.

We welcome collaboration with industry, which should be managed through the MRC Industry Collaboration Framework.

What we're looking for

We’re looking for research projects that will develop practical solutions to global health challenges and inequities. The aim is to fund a portfolio of high-quality global research,which will be diverse, promote multidisciplinarity and strengthen global health research capacity.

This includes:

  • late-stage intervention development and testing, which can include global health trials
  • implementation and scale-up research
  • health systems, health policy and health economics research.

We also welcome cross-sector research combining expertise to meet a global health challenge. For example, a single proposal may include aspects of urban planning, health policy and non-communicable disease research. 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 of approximately £2 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.

Examples of areas in which applied research may be conducted include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • maternal and neonatal health
  • early childhood development
  • adolescent health
  • healthy ageing
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases and COVID-19
  • non-communicable diseases, including mental health disorders
  • multimorbidity
  • nutrition and food security
  • snakebite
  • intentional and unintentional injury
  • urban health, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, road traffic accidents and healthy housing
  • planetary health
  • informal settlements, conflict zones and displaced populations
  • primary, secondary and tertiary prevention
  • detection and diagnostics
  • mobile health (mHealth)
  • treatment, including surgery
  • pain management and palliative care.

The MRC FCDO concordat supports global health research projects funded through the Applied Global Health Research Board in specific strategic areas of mutual interest, for example:

  • infections
  • maternal and newborn health
  • implementation science
  • adolescent health
  • early child development.

The following 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 in the ‘additional info’ section. This document provides details of our assessment criteria and how this funding opportunity differs from other MRC awards.

Strengthening research capacity as part of your application

We are committed to strengthening research capacity within low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and the UK. All applicants are required to develop plans to strengthen research capacity within their proposal, which will be assessed as part of the peer review process and inform funding decisions.

We encourage you to start discussing capacity strengthening 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
  • yield workers
  • managers
  • practitioners
  • policymakers
  • research management offices.

We take a broad view of where capacity strengthening activities could be targeted, however plans must be directly linked to the proposed project. Activities could target the individual, institutional or contextual level (or span multiple levels), and plans should be proportionate to the scale of the project, with larger proposals expected to be more ambitious.

Find out more about the review process in the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board in the ‘additional info’ section.

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

  • building leadership skills amongst early career researchers
  • opportunities for mutual learning across the project team, such as through staff exchanges (for example, the context where it is being conducted in the subject of the research, engagement with policymakers and research management)
  • building capacity to working collaboratively, across disciplines and across practice-research boundaries (for example, with policymakers, 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 LMICs research networks.

Find further resources, tools and guides provided by UK Collaborative on Development Research.

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 or research that includes an applied component that fits within a current MRC remit, programme or priority. This includes early translation.

Board opportunities

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.

Maternal and neonatal health

The MRC maternal and neonatal health area of investment aims to provide funding for innovative applied research to address the global burden of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity.

Early childhood development

The board supports research in early childhood development, which encompasses the physical, socio emotional, cognitive and motor development of children from birth to eight years of age.

Early childhood development is the outcome of the nurturing care for early childhood development report. This is a range of education, health, nutrition and social protection inputs and environments. Proposals in this area will be jointly funded by the FCDO as part of a coordinated effort to increase and scale up the evidence base for early childhood development interventions.

Read more about the early childhood development area of investment.

Adolescent health

Adolescent health has been a recent focus of investment for MRC, the FCDO and the National Institute for Health Research, in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council.

Read more about the adolescent health area of investment.

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 most vulnerable populations.

Read more about the implementation science area of investment.

How to apply

Applying using Je-S

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system and follow the below guidance before accessing Je-S.

If you are a UK lead applicant, follow the UK researchers Je-S guidance section.

If you are a low- and middle-income country (LMIC) researcher who is leading an outline application, follow the process outlined in the ‘LMIC based lead overseas researchers’ section.

If you are an investigator or researcher based within an LMIC research organisation not currently registered on Je-S, follow the ‘self registration process’ section.

LMIC based lead overseas researchers

Overseas researchers that are based at an LMIC and leading an application, should firstly visit Je-S to download a list of Je-S registered organisations and check if their lead LMIC organisation has previously been awarded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

If you find your lead LMIC organisation within the list of Je-S registered organisations, it is important to contact the submitter pool members of your organisation as soon as possible. This is to discuss arrangements to ensure the timely Je-S submission of your application.

The final submission must be completed before 16 February 2023 at 16:00 when this opportunity closes.

Further information on how to view submitter pool members details within Je-S is available within the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board in the ‘additional info’ section.

Self registration process

If your LMIC research organisation has not previously received UKRI funding, whether you are a principal or co-investigator within an application, you are required to submit directly to MRC through Je-S.

You must navigate to the Je-S login page and select the option ‘self-registration for organisations’ to add your LMIC organisation to the Je-S database.

Je-S account process for overseas researchers

Following the completion of the self-registration process, any overseas researchers without Je-S accounts should follow the create Je-S account application process as soon as possible. You should do this by navigating to the Je-S home page or by selecting ‘create an account’.

Each researcher should ensure they create the correct Je-S account type, by selecting the option (check box) adjacent to the description ‘an Applicant on a Standard or Outline Proposal (Principal/Co/Researcher Co–Investigator)’.

Once completed, create the Je-S application.

UK researcher Je-S guidance

You are advised to liaise with your organisation’s research office as soon as possible, to discuss your intended application.

This early discussion will allow your host organisation to plan your application submission and ensure you complete your application in a timely fashion. This allows your organisation adequate time to complete necessary application checks before they complete the final submission to MRC through Je-S.

If you are a researcher based in the UK or at an overseas MRC unit who has not created a Je-S account, navigate to the Je-S home page and select ‘create an account’.

If you have already created a Je-S account, but have forgotten your account username or password, you can retrieve a hint to your password and confirmation of your Je-S account username.

If you already have a Je-S account, ensure you have the correct level of Je-S account required to be included as an investigator (within the Je-S proposal).

If your organisation is eligible to apply for UKRI funding (for example, NHS Trust), but the organisation has not yet completed the UKRI eligibility process, you can still apply for this funding opportunity. You must follow the self-registration process as indicated above.

Submitting your application

You must apply using the Je-S system.

This opportunity will not be available in Je-S, until it opens on 1 November 2022.

You can find advice on completing your application in the ‘supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board’ in the ‘Additional info’ section.

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S using the correct process for you, based on the information at the start of this section.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: Applied Global Health Research Board Outline Round 4 2023.

This will populate:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: outline proposal
  • scheme: standard outline
  • call/type/mode: Applied Global Health Research Board Outline Round 4 2023.

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application anytime during the opportunity opening period.

Deadline

MRC must receive your application by 16 February 2023 at 16:00.

You will not be able to apply after this time. If your lead organisation is currently eligible to receive MRC funding, please liaise with your research office as soon as possible in the application process, leaving enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission path before the advertised deadline.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

If your lead research organisation is not currently eligible on Je-S and you have completed the self-registration of your organisation, when you submit your completed proposal through Je-S, this process will submit the document directly through Je-S to MRC.

As stated in the MRC guidance for applicants, it is your responsibility to ensure:

  • you apply to the correct funding opportunity
  • you select the correct type of grant you are applying for (partnership or research grant)
  • your application is submitted before the published funding opportunity closing date and time.

Attachments

Mandatory attachments to include with your Je-S outline proposal are:

  • case for support (up to five sides of A4, plus one side of A4 for references)
  • curriculum vitae (up to two sides of A4 per person)
  • publications (no more than one side of A4 per person).

Letters of support are optional (up to two sides of A4 per letter).

How we will assess your application

MRC will assess your proposal in two stages.

Stage one

Your outline proposal will be reviewed by independent board members and MRC’s global health faculty of experts.

Stage two

If your outline proposal is successful, you will be invited to submit a full application. Invited full applications are subject to international peer review before consideration by the board.

You will be given the opportunity to respond to reviewer comments. The board will review all applications, including reviewer comments and applicant responses, to make a funding decision.

Assessment duration

If invited to the full submission stage, the assessment process will take around nine months from the outline proposal submission deadline to the final decision. Unsuccessful outline applicants will be notified within approximately three months of submission.

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

Get advice on developing your application

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

It is also expected that you will have been in touch with the MRC international team prior to developing your proposal.

General application queries for this opportunity

MRC international

If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal, or you have a query related to the supplementary guidance in the ‘additional info’ section, please contact MRC international.

It is also expected that you will have been in touch with the MRC international team prior to developing your proposal.

Email: international@mrc.ukri.org

We will forward your enquiry to the relevant programme manager.

International Programme Managers

Samantha Palmer, Programme Manager for global health (policy, board operations and peer review)

Email: samantha.palmer@mrc.ukri.org

Dr Hannah Boycott, Programme Manager for applied global health (non-communicable disease, infectious disease, ageing)

Email: hannah.boycott@mrc.ukri.org

Charlotte Allen, Programme Manager for interdisciplinary global health (maternal and neonatal health, early childhood development, cross-sectorial global health)

Email: charlotte.allen@mrc.ukri.org

MRC general policy enquiries

For general MRC policy enquiries not covered by the supplementary guidance, please contact the MRC research funding policy and delivery team.

Email: rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

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