Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Experimental medicine stage one

Start application

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 a mechanistic hypothesis
  • be academically-led

You must be based at an eligible research organisation.

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 funding opportunity with an annual budget of £10 million.

Application rounds close every April and October.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

To be eligible to apply for this funding opportunity you must:

If you do not have a contract of employment for the duration of the proposed project, by submitting an application the research organisation is confirming, if it is successful:

  • contracts will be extended beyond the end date of the project
  • all necessary support for the project and the applicants will be provided, including mentorship and career development for early career researchers

Who is not eligible to apply

You are not eligible to apply for this funding opportunity as a project lead if you are based at an international research organisation. This does not include MRC Unit The Gambia or MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that are eligible to apply as project lead. Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

International applicants

You can include international applicants as project co-leads (international), where they will make a major intellectual contribution to the design or conduct of the project. The contribution and added value to the research collaboration should be clearly explained and justified in the application, see Applicant and team capability to deliver.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for


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

Successful projects will produce new mechanistic insights, including those that may:

  • identify opportunities to modify disease pathways
  • enable the future development of novel therapeutic or diagnostic approaches

We welcome applications in all disease areas and interventions.

What your application must include

Your application must involve an experimental intervention or challenge in humans, which has been designed to validate a mechanistic hypothesis. The challenge may be, but is not limited to:

  • pharmacological
  • immunological
  • physiological
  • psychological
  • infectious

Activities we support

The following types of work 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 your application:
    • 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 is 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 applications 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.

Activities we do not support

The following activities are ineligible for support:

We encourage you to contact us first at to discuss your application, especially if you believe your research may cross MRC or research council interests. If your application fits another research board remit better, we may decide to transfer it there to be assessed.


There is no limit to the duration of projects. You should justify the timescale of the project in the context of the proposed work.


Milestones allow us to mitigate risk and support potentially high-risk projects.
Experimental medicine awards will typically have at least two milestones with specific success criteria that reflect major progress points and allow mechanistic hypotheses to be laid out and evaluated as the project progresses.

Your milestones should also provide a realistic indication of timelines for key steps, such as regulatory steps, study team recruitment, participant recruitment, study completion and data analysis.

Milestone success criteria should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely), and detail any robust Go or No-Go criteria. For all projects, it is advisable to structure the project so that the critical questions are addressed as early as possible in the plan.

Funding available

There is no limit to the funding you can apply for. Applicants typically apply for £1 million or more. You should justify the resources needed in the context of the proposed work.

We will fund 80% of the full economic cost and 100% of permitted exceptions.

Find out more about full economic costing.

What we will fund

You can request funding for costs such as:

  • a contribution to the salary of the project lead and co-leads
  • support for other posts such as research and technical staff
  • research consumables
  • equipment
  • travel costs
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
  • estates and indirect costs

You can also request costs for work to be undertaken at international organisations by international project co-leads. We will fund 100% of the full economic cost.

The total of such costs requested for international applicants from developed countries (those not on the OECD DAC List of ODA Recipients), India and China must not exceed 30% of the total resources requested.

There is no cap on costs requested for international applicants from Development Assistance Countries (DAC) list of countries.

For more information on international costs and what we will and will not fund see costs we fund – overseas costs and the Collaborate with Researchers in Norway. guidance.

What we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • research involving randomised trials of clinical treatments
  • costs for PhD studentships
  • publication costs
  • funding to use as a ‘bridge’ between grants

Team project partner

You may include team project partners that will support your research project through cash or in-kind contributions, such as:

  • staff time
  • access to equipment
  • sites or facilities
  • the provision of data
  • software or materials
  • recruitment of people as research participants
  • providing samples, such as human tissue, for the project

Each project partner must provide a statement of support. If your application involves industry partners, they must provide additional information if the team project partner falls within the industry collaboration framework.

Find out more about subcontractors and dual roles.

Who cannot be included as a team project partner

Any individual included in your application with a core team cannot also be a project partner.

Any organisation that employs a member of the application core team cannot be a project partner organisation, this includes other departments within the same organisation.

If you are collaborating with someone in your organisation consider including them in the core team as project co-lead, or specialist. They cannot be a project partner.

Supporting skills and talent

We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.

Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I)

UKRI is committed in ensuring that effective international collaboration in research and innovation takes place with integrity and within strong ethical frameworks. Trusted Research and Innovation (TR&I) is a UKRI work programme designed to help protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international sector by enabling partnerships to be as open as possible, and as secure as necessary. Our TR&I Principles set out UKRI’s expectations of organisations funded by UKRI in relation to due diligence for international collaboration.

As such, applicants for UKRI funding may be asked to demonstrate how their proposed projects will comply with our approach and expectation towards TR&I, identifying potential risks and the relevant controls you will put in place to help proportionately reduce these risks.

See further guidance and information about TR&I, including where applicants can find additional support.

How to apply

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

If the lead research organisation is an NHS organisation, check it is available in the Funding Service. You are encouraged to check this early as there may be additional steps for the organisation to be set up before you can apply.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email
    Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service. We strongly suggest that if you are asking UKRI to add your organisation to the Funding Service to enable you to apply to this funding opportunity, you also create an organisation Administration Account. This will be needed to allow the acceptance and management of any grant that might be offered to you.
  3. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the How to apply section on this Funding finder page.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • files must be smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


Applications should be self-contained, and hyperlinks should only be used to provide links directly to reference information. To ensure the information’s integrity is maintained, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers should be used. Assessors are not required to access links to carry out assessment or recommend a funding decision. Applicants should use their discretion when including references and prioritise those most pertinent to the application.

References should be included in the appropriate question section of the application and be easily identifiable by the assessors for example (Smith, Research Paper, 2019).

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.


We must receive your application by 2 October 2024 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

MRC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

MRC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at board and panel outcomes.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.


Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We usually make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, therefore do not include any confidential or sensitive information. Make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

If your application relates to the Artificial intelligence, engineering biology and quantum technologies highlight notice, you should also refer to this and the critical technology in your summary.

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • project co-lead (international) (PcL (I))
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher
  • researcher co-lead (RcL)

Only list one individual as project lead. If you include more than one project lead your application will fail at the checking stage.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions

Related applications

Word limit: 1,500

Is this application a re-submission of a previous experimental medicine stage one or stage two application and, if so, how have you considered and acted on the feedback you received?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

If your application is a resubmission, ensure you:

  • describe how feedback on your previous stage one or stage two application has been considered and acted on
  • provide succinct responses to the panel’s comments on your previous stage one application

Enter ‘N/A’ into the text box if this is your first time applying to experimental medicine stage one for your proposed research. You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.


Word limit: 550

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of excellent quality and importance within or beyond the field(s) or area(s)
  • has the potential to advance current understanding, or generate new knowledge, thinking or discovery within or beyond the field or area
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • impacts world-leading research, society, the economy, or the environment

Within the ‘Vision’ section we also expect you to:

  • outline the current clinical challenge, healthcare burden or knowledge gap
  • summarise the current state of understanding about the relevant mechanisms of disease
  • identify the current gap in mechanistic understanding
  • state the mechanistic hypothesis to be tested

References may be included within this section.

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.


Word limit: 250

What is the planned intervention?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain the planned intervention to be used in the proposed work, including:

  • the type of intervention, which may include compound, biologic, psychological, physiological, or infection
  • relevant background information, including its established safety profile and use in other mechanistic studies

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.


Word limit: 1,650

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Within the Approach section we expect you to:

  • provide an outline project plan, including project milestones and timelines, demonstrating:
    • how you propose to address the identified gap in knowledge
    • the objectives of the proposed research in order of priority
    • the primary and secondary experimental outcomes and how they relate to the experimental objectives
    • how the proposed work packages will ensure the project objectives are achieved
    • the success criteria that will be used for each milestone, detailing the robust Go or No-Go criteria

To visualise your project plan, you must also provide an embedded legible Gantt chart to support your response that should include:

  • project tasks (these being short, achievable and measurable activities) with, where relevant, the party responsible for delivering the task and dependency relationships between tasks
  • at least two progression milestones (to include the project end goal), these being major specifically-timed decision points

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • outline the proposed methodology and experimental design, including:
    • the experiments you will undertake to probe the stated hypothesis
    • the data you will collect and how it will test the hypothesis
    • the proposed trial design and why this approach is appropriate to meet the study objectives
    • the statistical analysis plan, providing sufficient details for the replication of any sample size calculations; and consideration of potential sources of biases and the strategies that will be adopted to minimise their effects
  • As part of your methodology and experimental design, outline the nature of human participation in your proposed work, including:
    • the characteristics of the participants (such as age, disease) and the rationale for their selection
    • the specific population groups in relation to their diversity characteristics and the proposed analysis, following the MRC embedding diversity in research design policy
    • target and acceptable levels of participant recruitment across the project timeline
    • evidence of recruitment feasibility
    • the human participant recruitment strategy, including the steps that will be taken if patient recruitment does not reach the set target
    • if applicable, outline how any limited animal, library specimen or isolate cell work will inform the human-centric proposed work. For any research involving animals and tissues and cells, you must show how you will use both sexes. If you are not proposing to do this, a strong justification is required
  • outline the project risks and risk management, including:
    • how likely the risks are to occur
    • what their impact would be on the success and deliverability of the project
    • your risk mitigation strategy, giving particular consideration to any potential safety risks and how these risks will be controlled
  • demonstrate access to the appropriate services, clinical support, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment to deliver the proposed work, including details of:
    • specialist equipment or infrastructure required to deliver the project objectives
    • the use of existing clinical infrastructure such as Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres, NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, NIHR Clinical research facilities, patient cohorts

We suggest you structure your response using the following headings, with approximate words counts for each:

  • project plan and milestones 550 words
  • methodology and experimental design 550 words
  • risk management 330 words
  • infrastructure and equipment 220 words

References may be included throughout the approach section. You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

References may be included within this section.

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,800

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to develop others
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

The word count for this section is 1,800 words:

  • 1,100 words to be used for R4RI modules (including references)
  • 200 words to summarise the career stage of the core team (an example table will be provided within the Funding Service to assist you with your summary)
  • 500 words for Additions, if necessary

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and, if relevant, your team (project and project co-leads, researchers, technicians, specialists, partners and so on) have and how this will help deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

References may be included within this section.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Project partners

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating third party organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed research. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Important note: If your application includes industry project partners, you will also need to complete the Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF) section during the stage two application. Find out more about ICF.

You must ensure that any third party individual or organisation you include within the Funding Service as a project partner, also provides you with a supporting email or letter of support (see next section ‘Project partners: letters or emails of support’).

The individual named as the project partner contact, cannot be included in your application as a member of the core team, in any core team role.

The project partner organisation cannot be an applicant organisation, where any member of the core team is based. For example, you cannot include a different department based within the applicant organisation as a project partner.

If an individual or organisation outside the core team is responsible for recruitment of people as research participants or providing human tissue for this project, list them as a project partner.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If there are specific circumstances where project partners do require funding for minor costs such as travel and subsistence, these project partner costs should be claimed and justified within the resources and costs section of your application.

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters (or emails) of support

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the ‘Project partners’ section. These should be uploaded in English or Welsh only.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter ‘N/A’.

What supporting statements we are looking for

Important note: We are only looking for you to provide project partner letters or emails of support from the following:

  • a third party individual
  • a third party organisation

Third party means the individual and organisation must not be involved in the application core team. You must ensure that any project partners providing a supporting document, are also added to the ‘project partners’ section within the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the ‘Project partners’ section.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

What supporting statements we are not looking for

We are not looking for you to provide any letters or emails of support from individuals or organisations included in your application core team (this includes other departments within the same organisation). Any individual or organisation included in your application with a core team role cannot also be a project partner.

Do not include any other statements or any other type of information we have not requested, including letter or emails of support from colleagues simply expressing supportive opinions. We only expect letters or emails of support from your third party project partners uploaded to this section.

If you include any information not requested by MRC, your application will be rejected.

Supporting document guidance for third party project partners

Each project partner supporting letter or email you provide, should:

  • be no more than two A4 pages
  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project
  • include the name of the project partner organisation and contact information (this should match the partner contact and organisation name details you must add to the ‘Project partners’ section)

Project partners letters and emails of support are not required to be on headed paper or include handwritten signatures (electronic signatures are acceptable from the nominated partner contact).

Project partner responsibility for the recruitment of people

If the project partner is responsible for the recruitment of people as research participants or providing human tissue their letter or email of support should include:

  • agreement that the project partner will recruit the participants or provide tissue
  • confirmation that what is being supplied is suitable for the proposed work
  • confirmation that the quantity of tissue being supplied is suitable, but not excessive for achieving meaningful results (if applicable)
Multiple project partners

If you have multiple project partners, you should:

  • ensure each separate letter or email of support, does not exceed two pages of A4
  • consolidate all the supporting documents provided by each project partner into a single PDF file before uploading
  • ensure the PDF does not exceed the maximum file size of 8MB

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

Outline costs

Provide costs that reflect, as accurately as possible, the funding you will need.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

What are the ethical or RRI implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

Consider the MRC guidance on ethics and approvals.

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

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

If successful, you will be invited to submit a stage two application. This undergoes external peer review before a further and more detailed review by the panel.


We aim to complete the process from stage one submission to stage two decision in approximately 35 weeks.


We will give feedback with the outcome of your application within eight weeks of the panel meeting.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • fit to the funding opportunity scope
  • vision of the project
  • approach to the project, including:
    • project plan & milestones
    • methodology, experimental and statistical design
    • risk mitigation and management
    • research environment and infrastructure
    • capability of the applicants and team to deliver the project
    • ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline and/or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

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

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact

For general questions related to MRC funding including our funding opportunities and policy please contact

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

Find out more information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, please contact

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info


Support for applicants

You are strongly encouraged to engage with your organisation’s research governance office who will be able to offer guidance and support.

Guidance is available on the MRC Regulatory Support Centre, developed in collaboration with the Health Research Authority, for those conducting research with human participants, their tissues or data.

The vast majority of studies that involve human participants, their tissues or data should undergo a research ethics committee (REC) review and many research studies may require an NHS REC opinion. The HRA Decision Tool can be used to determine whether your study requires this type of approval.

The Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) should be used when applying for NHS REC approval and for other regulatory approvals. IRAS is a single system for applying for the permissions and approvals for health and social or community care research in the UK.

Prior to the establishment of the Experimental Medicine Panel, we ran four experimental medicine challenge grant funding opportunities. As part of these, a webinar was held to articulate the remit, what qualifies as good experimental medicine, challenges identified from previous rounds and how successful applications were designed, reviewed and conducted.

You may find the webinar recording useful in preparing an experimental medicine application.

Ethics and regulatory approval

We do not require ethics permissions and regulatory approvals to be in place when you submit an application (stage one or stage two). However, given that research involving human subjects or requiring the use of human tissue or organs may raise various ethical and regulatory issues, you will be required to demonstrate that you have adequately considered these matters.

Early discussions with regulatory bodies are advised to ensure that all requirements can be met in a timely manner. Once an application is successful, it is the responsibility of the host organisation to ensure that the appropriate ethics and regulatory approval has been obtained and that no research requiring such approval is initiated before it has been granted.


You may find the following organisations and resources useful when preparing an application.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research provides a clinical trials toolkit that gives practical advice to those planning or running clinical trials in the UK.

If you are considering a drug repurposing project you may wish to explore the Repurposing Medicines Toolkit, developed by Medical Research Council (MRC) and LifeArc.

Additional disability and accessibility adjustments

UKRI can offer disability and accessibility support for UKRI applicants and grant holders during the application and assessment process if required.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.