Experimental medicine grants: Sep 2021

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Apply for funding to investigate the causes, progression and treatment of human disease.

Your project must:

  • include an experimental intervention or challenge in humans
  • focus on addressing mechanistic questions
  • be academically led.

You must be based at an eligible UK research organisation. In addition to our usual eligibility criteria, you can apply if you hold a fellowship or lectureship.

There is no limit to the amount of funding you can apply for or the length of your project.

We will fund 80% of your project’s full economic cost.

This is an ongoing scheme with an annual budget of £10 million. Application rounds open every six months.

Who can apply

You should be based at an eligible research organisation, which includes:

  • higher education institutions
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations or NHS bodies
  • government-funded organisations
  • MRC institutes
  • MRC units and partnership institutes
  • institutes and units funded by other research councils.

Read more details on institutional and individual eligibility in our general guidance for applicants (PDF, 1MB).

Investigators in receipt of fellowships (MRC, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), charity, learned societies) and NIHR lectureships are eligible, if their fellowship terms and conditions allow.

What we're looking for

You can apply for academically-led experimental medicine projects that are conducted in humans, based round a clearly articulated gap in understanding of human pathophysiology and have a clear path to clinical impact.

These grants will produce new mechanistic insights, identifying opportunities to modify disease pathways and enabling novel therapeutic or diagnostic approaches for future development.

The panel welcomes all disease areas and interventions.

We encourage potential applicants to contact the Experimental Medicine team to arrange a discussion with the Programme Manager around remit suitability prior to submitting an application.

The application must involve an experimental intervention or challenge in humans, perturbing the system to explore disease mechanism. The challenge may be, but is not limited to:

  • pharmacological
  • immunological
  • physiological
  • psychological
  • infectious.

The following types of proposals are eligible for support:

  • the use of novel readouts or technologies related to early evaluation of clinical efficacy or pathogenic mechanism
  • the use of drugs, other interventions or measures with established safety profiles in new settings or conditions. For example, repurposing drugs as tool compounds to probe disease mechanism
  • characterisation or phenotyping of subjects using samples from clinical studies may be included where there is a clear link to a current treatment strategy but should not be the sole focus of the proposal:
    • limited, hypothesis-driven, retrospective sample analysis may be included at the start of the project to improve the design of the interventional, experimental medicine study
    • milestone criteria should clearly detail what data are required from the confirmatory analysis for the project to progress.

Prospective, nested studies within a larger cohort trial may be eligible provided they:

  • can demonstrate added value
  • are exploring disease mechanisms
  • test a novel hypothesis
  • address a different question to the main study.

Competitive proposals will aim to address a clear mechanistic question and provide strong rationale to justify the suitability of the experimental system proposed to test the presented hypothesis. Proposals which are predominantly descriptive will not be shortlisted.

The following activities are ineligible for support:

There is no limit to the amount of funding you can apply for or the length of your project. You should instead justify the timescale and resources needed in the context of the proposed work.

Collaborations

Applications including partnerships with charities or industry are encouraged where these add value to the project, for example in terms of access to expertise, technologies, reagents or funding. Please note that industrial collaboration is not a prerequisite for application.

Applications involving collaboration with industry should adhere to the MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement guidance. The lead applicant must be the academic partner, and the project must be academically led. Please note that we do not fund the work of your industrial partners.

How to apply

You must first submit an outline proposal via the Je-S website. The opportunity is open for eight weeks leading up to the deadline of 9 September 2021.

The next deadline for outline applications will be in April 2022.

When applying select:

  • Council: MRC
  • Document type: Outline Proposal
  • Scheme: Standard Outline
  • Call/type/mode: Experimental Medicine Out Sep 2021

For your Je-S application you must use our outline proposal form (Word, 271KB).

Before applying for the outline stage, please read our guidance for outline applicants (PDF, 153KB).

If successful at the outline stage, you will be invited to submit a full application. We will send guidance on completing a full application.

We aim to complete the process from outline submission to full decision in approximately 30 weeks.

How we will assess your application

Your application will be assessed in a two-stage process. Your outline proposal will first be considered by an independent panel of experts.

The panel will assess your proposal on the following criteria:

  • fit to the call remit
  • scientific rationale and potential impact
  • research strategy and experimental design
  • deliverability of the project.

If successful, you will be invited to submit a full proposal. This undergoes external peer review before a further and more detailed review by the panel. All applicants will receive feedback from the assessment process within eight weeks of the panel meeting.

Contact details

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