Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: India-UK partnership to address farmed animal diseases and health

Apply for funding to advance the mechanistic understanding of host-pathogen interactions in farmed animals or to tackle veterinary antimicrobial resistance (Vet-AMR) or both.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for BBSRC funding and you must have a partner in India eligible for DBT funding.

Projects will be made up of a UK component and an India component.

BBSRC will fund up to £1 million at 80% of the full economic cost to support the UK component and DBT will fund the India component. Total funding available is £5 million from BBSRC for the UK applicants with matched equivalent resources from DBT for successful Indian applicants.

Projects will have a duration of up to three years.

Who can apply

Each project must list one principal investigator in the UK and one principal investigator in India along with one co-principal investigator in India. There is no limit to the number of participants listed as collaborators or co-investigators. Industry will not be funded under this funding opportunity.

UK participants

This funding opportunity invites applicants from UK-based organisations that meet BBSRC’s standard eligibility conditions, including:

  • higher education institutions
  • eligible independent research organisations
  • approved public sector research establishments
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded labs and facilities

All UK principal investigators and co-investigators must meet the standard BBSRC eligibility criteria, as per BBSRC research grants guide.

India participants

All Indian faculty (from public or private universities or institution, non-governmental organisations, voluntary organisation trusts or research foundations) are normally eligible to apply for DBT funding opportunities as principal investigators with at least one eligible faculty from UK listed as co-principal investigator. Please check eligibility criteria for Indian funding. Please follow DBT guidelines (annexure) for submitting the proposals under this joint funding opportunity.

Applications involving ineligible applicants, from either India or the UK, will result in the whole application being withdrawn.

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 (EDI) at UK Research and Innovation and BBSRC’s equality, diversity and inclusion action plan.

What we're looking for

BBSRC and DBT seek to bring research groups in the UK and India together to build on their combined strengths and work on projects, engaging with users, in particular farmers, with the aim of improving farmed animal health and welfare. Projects should build new links or strengthen existing links between India and the UK, and demonstrate how research in the two countries would be integrated.

Programme aim

The aim of this programme is to advance the mechanistic understanding of:

  • susceptibility of farmed animals to infectious diseases
  • resistance to disease treatment

with a focus on understanding host factors and farming practices that promote and prevent these.

Programme scope

Research area one: enhancing mechanistic understanding of host-pathogen interactions

Host-pathogen interaction is a dynamic process between diverse pathogens and host in all stages of pathogenic infection. It is vital to develop deeper understanding of such interactions not only to understand infectious disease, but also to develop effective detection and intervention strategies.

The aim is to use traditional and high throughput approaches to understand host-pathogen interactions from the basic molecular and cellular levels, all the way through to epidemiological use of big data sets and understanding the social drivers behind behavioural change around farming of animals.

Host-pathogen research areas can include, for example:

  • develop tractable systems, such as models, cell lines and organoids to further research
  • focus on pathogen and vector biology including pathogen ecology, evolution, transmission, and epidemiology
  • elucidate host factors or mechanisms including genetic, adaptation, immune evasion, and disease persistence, impact of different production systems and direct or indirect interactions between pathogens, including co-infections
  • the mechanisms that underpin susceptibility including spill over events, for instance zoonoses, reverse zoonoses and epizootics

Research area two: tackling Vet-AMR (includes bacterial, parasitic and viral pathogens) for the purpose of improving animal health

The emergence of Vet-AMR is causing devastating impacts on animal health by hampering the effectiveness of treatments. The focus is to develop mechanistic understanding of how resistance develops and use that information to develop intervention strategies to reduce reliance on antimicrobials and develop the next generation of alternatives to antimicrobials.

The aim is to understand:

  • fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms of antimicrobial or anthelmintic resistance
  • drivers and risk factors of Vet-AMR spread in India and the UK, including the generation and sharing of AMR usage datasets
  • AMR potential in different ecologies, including the genetics of host and transmission dynamics between wildlife, livestock, humans and environment

Key research areas for Vet-AMR can include, for example:

  • affordable, pen-side diagnostics to detect AMR on farms
  • effective therapeutics, including alternatives
  • unified protocols and data on antimicrobial usage and resistance across different levels (animal, farm, local, national) to better monitor AMR in India and UK settings

Projects that focus on the development of models, data or integration of social sciences aspects with relevance to both host-pathogen interactions and Vet-AMR are particularly welcome.

We expect to fund a range of proposals which span the two research areas. Proposals may focus on either one of the two research areas or work across both of them.

We encourage larger multidisciplinary consortia proposals.

A key goal of the programme is to develop new insights, approaches and technologies that support the needs of users, such as industry, local communities, and national, state, and local-level policymakers and regulators.

To achieve this, it is essential that projects are designed in consultation with users and that they are involved throughout. You should set out in your proposal which users are participating in the projects, how they will be engaged, and how the outputs and outcomes address your requirements.

Carrying out research should include careful consideration of context-specific gender and equality challenges and be conducted in a gender-sensitive way.

In all cases, you should fully justify the proposed focus of the project and demonstrate how the research will contribute to the delivery of the programme’s objectives.

Where appropriate collaboration with industry would be welcomed, however BBSRC and DBT will not provide funding for such collaborators.

Use of animals

You should consider the BBSRC policy statements on the use of animals in research and must ensure that all of the proposed research, in the UK and in India, will comply with the principles of BBSRC’s and other UK funders’ common guidance on ‘responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research’.

In particular, UK institutions should be aware of the following aspect of the guidance relating to research or collaboration outside the UK:

When collaborating with other laboratories, or where animal facilities are provided by third parties, researchers and the local ethics committee in the UK should satisfy themselves that welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation (for example the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986), and set out in this guidance, are applied and maintained. Where there are significant deviations, prior approval from the funding body should be sought and agreed.

You should also be aware of DBT’s guidance:

Institutional and national biosafety guidelines for studies related to usage of infectious agents and/or handling of animals infected with such organisms must be followed. Regulations that control the use of non-human animals for scientific experimentation in India and UK should be considered while preparing the project proposals.

Mode of treatment, restraint, alleviation of pain and suffering using appropriate anaesthesia or medication with detailed description of procedures etc. should be provided in the proposal. Handling and disposal of infectious organism or infected animals should also be followed according to local (city) and national norms.

Investigators should provide a signed statement that 1) they will follow guidelines for use of animals for research available in UK and in India and that 2) before initiation of the proposed research work, appropriate approvals from Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA)/Institutional and/or central animal ethics and biosafety committees will be obtained for experimental protocols to be adopted in their projects.

If your research involves the use of animals or human participants, you are expected to detail the potential for public concern relating to the research and what you will do during the course of the project to address these concerns.

Start date

Projects must commence no later than 1 April 2024.

How to apply

The UK and India participants should submit a joint application to both BBSRC and DBT. Applications submitted to only one funder will not be considered.

The lead UK principal investigator should submit the joint application to BBSRC using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. Name only UK participants as applicants.

The Indian principal investigator should submit the joint application to DBT using the DBT Electronic Project Management System (eProMIS).

Applications may involve researchers from multiple eligible UK institutions but should be submitted as a single Je-S application by the organisation of the lead UK principal investigator.

If successful, the lead organisation would be the recipient of the UK component of the award and would be responsible for managing and distributing funds to other participating UK institutions in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award.

Funding for the Indian component of the collaboration will be paid by DBT to the Indian partner institutions.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

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

Submitting your application to BBSRC

Before starting the application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

All UK investigators involved in the project need to be registered on Je-S. Indian investigators do not need a Je-S account, information about the entire team should be provided in the ‘applicant list’ attachment.

Any UK investigators who do not have a Je-S account must register for one at least seven working days before the opportunity deadline.

When applying:

  1. Log in to Je-S.
  2. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.

This will populate:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: Farmed Animal Disease and Health Future
  • select ‘create document’

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 later.

Submitting your application to DBT

Please apply through eProMIS.

Steps for submission:

  1. Please log in to eProMIS.
  2. Go to ‘international cooperation-bilateral programs’ area.
  3. Open call link for Indo-UK Farmed Animal Disease and Health.
  4. Submit proposal.

Resources (for UK applicants)

You must submit a single Je-S application using full economic costs for UK institutions. Only costs for the UK component of the application should be submitted in the resources section of the Je-S application.

Please take particular care to request sufficient funds to enable the partnering aspects of the project such as travel and subsistence, in addition to salary and consumables.

It is important to agree with all partners how eligible costs for accommodation, in-country travel and subsistence will be covered and by which funding agency, when visiting or hosting overseas partners. This should be explained clearly in the ‘justification of resources’ section of the application and any queries should be directed to the relevant funding agency.

Resources (for Indian applicants)

DBT will fund the Indian consortium members as per requirement of the project, for the project duration, up to three years. Budget should be commensurate with the essentiality of participation, workload and objectives of the project and cost of participation.

Please follow DBT guidelines for funding support: annexure (DOCX, 35KB).

Deadline

BBSRC must receive your application by 11 July 2023 at 4:00pm (UK time) and DBT by 11 July 2023 at 9:30pm (India standard time).

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S and DBT’s submission routes before this date.

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

Documentation

For UK applicants

Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • proposal cover letter (maximum two sides of A4, must include any declaration of interest)
  • case for support (maximum eight sides of A4, including references, figures):
    • specific challenge your project aims to address
    • timeliness and potential impact of your project
    • relevance and benefits to both the UK and India
    • overview of how your proposed activities will progress towards solving the challenge
    • overview of how you will support interdisciplinary working and any necessary training for project participants
    • potential route to translate the outcome into genuine impacts that benefit both countries including communication strategies, dissemination and knowledge exchange
    • if you have an industrial partner (industrial partners are not mandatory, nor are they eligible for funding), your case for support should also detail:
      • role of your industrial partner
      • nature of their collaboration
  • data management plan (maximum one side of A4)
  • diagrammatic work plan (maximum one side of A4, including milestones)
  • justification of resources (maximum two sides of A4, including information for UK and India costs)
  • applicant list (DOCX, 146KB) (details of the entire project team in both the UK and India, upload as ‘other attachment’)
  • CVs (up to two sides of A4 each) for UK and India participants, including named postdoctoral staff and researcher co-investigators
  • copy of the joint project proposal submitted via eProMIS (upload as ‘other attachment’)
  • partnership and project management statement (maximum one side of A4, upload as ‘other attachment’):
    • explain the nature of the collaboration, including whether it is a new or existing collaboration, the complementarity of the partners and how this proposal builds on previous joint work, where applicable
    • explain how the partnership represents a true collaboration between the transnational research teams, and the added value of this collaboration
    • description of how the proposed project will be managed across the international project team
  • signed statement about animal use (required for applications involving animal research conducted outside the UK)
  • additional questions on the use of animals (required for applications involving animal research conducted outside the UK on):
  • the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research’s standardised questions about the use of pigs (required for applications involving the use of pigs)

For Indian applicants

For a DBT submission, the joint project proposal must be submitted along with all supporting documentation required by the funding organisation. All documents and forms required for the application are accessible online. Please refer to the annexure (DOCX, 35KB) for submission of proposal.

How we will assess your application

All applications will be handled in the strictest of confidence. Each application will be sent to reviewers in India and the UK. The responses received from reviewers will be sent to the UK lead principal investigator of the project to coordinate a response from all of the applicants addressing any questions or criticisms in the reviews.

Following peer review, DBT and BBSRC may invite you to give a short presentation of your proposed work to a joint assessment committee comprised of funder representatives and independent external panel members from India and the UK. Applications must attain a positive rating to be considered eligible for funding.

The joint assessment committee will thoroughly examine the proposals and reach consensus within the overall budget framework of the two contributing organisations about which projects should be funded. DBT and BBSRC will jointly agree the successful applications, decisions made will be final.

Once a consensual decision has been reached DBT and BBSRC will follow their organisation’s standard processes to notify you about their funding decisions.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed with reference to the scope of the funding opportunity and against the following assessment criteria.

Scientific excellence

This includes:

  • specific objectives of your project and whether they demonstrate excellence and originality
  • appropriateness of your proposed activities, with a clear and well-developed rationale for engaging partners with appropriate skills from relevant disciplines
  • your project’s potential to make a significant contribution to the advancement of the area

Timeliness and potential impact

This includes:

  • potential scale of impact arising from your proposed research
  • applicability of the research to possible user applications
  • potential of your proposed project to build a foundation for further investment

International partnership

This includes:

  • your proposed project represents a true collaborative partnership between transnational research teams
  • added value of such collaborations should be clearly highlighted within the proposal
  • relevance and benefits to both the UK and India
  • an integrated work plan and an equal commitment to the project in terms of effort

Projects that appear to be working in parallel with little interaction between the countries will not be supported.

Capability to deliver

This includes:

  • capabilities and sustainability of your assembled research team to deliver the proposed research
  • feasibility of delivering the proposed programme of work within the three-year time frame of the funded grant
  • a clear plan for supporting interdisciplinary work and training for project participants

Reviewers will be asked to comment on research involving animals and ethical or societal issues raised by the proposed work to ensure best practice is followed.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

BBSRC enquiries

Dr Ioanna Kostaki, Senior Portfolio Manager, RSP-International

Email: bbsrc.iru@bbsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘FADH’ in the subject line.

DBT enquiries

Dr Vinita Nitin Chaudhary, Scientist ‘E’ International Cooperation Division-Bilateral Programs, Department of Biotechnology

Email: vinita.chaudhary@nic.in

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times.

Get help with applying through eProMIS

Email

epromis.dbt@nic.in

Additional info

Collaborative agreements

If an application is funded, collaborative agreements between all partners must be put in place before research commences. Agreements should be written in line with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research grant terms and conditions to clearly define each partner’s role on the grant and clarify the intellectual property rights position.

You are advised to carefully consider these arrangements and discuss and agree them where necessary with project partners in developing the grant proposal.

Agreements must not conflict with BBSRC or DBT terms and conditions or national laws.

If the project is subsequently funded, the collaborative agreements must be available on request to BBSRC and DBT in due course.

Transfer of biological materials

Collection and exchange of materials may occur between collaborating institutions, as necessary, in compliance with relevant Indian and UK legislation. You should familiarise yourself with regulations surrounding the transfer of materials between countries when writing your application. You should ensure that you obtain appropriate guidance on how to go about this before submitting the application, in order to reduce delays once the grant has started.

In any case, a material transfer agreement should be put in place prior to any transfer.

International Science Partnerships Fund

The International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) is designed to enable potential and foster prosperity. It will support UK researchers and innovators to work with international partners on the major themes of our time, and to help them create new knowledge and technology for the world.

It’s managed by the Department for Science, Innovation Technology. Delivered by a consortium of the UK’s leading research and innovation bodies including UKRI.

Webinar

BBSRC and DBT held an informative webinar to support this funding opportunity on 25 May 2023 10:00am UK time (2:30pm India standard time).

Watch a recording of the webinar.

Recording passcode: gxHyV!8?

Supporting documents

Webinar question and answers (PDF, 19KB)
Equality impact assessment (PDF, 219KB)

UK applicants

Applicant list template (DOCX, 146KB)
Additional questions on the use of rodents overseas (DOCX, 57KB)
Additional questions on the use of rabbits overseas (DOCX, 57KB)
Additional questions on the use of sheep overseas (DOCX, 58KB)
Additional questions on the use of goats overseas (DOCX, 55KB)
Additional questions on the use of pigs overseas (DOCX, 59KB)
Additional questions on the use of cattle overseas (DOCX, 65KB)
Additional questions on the use of Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis overseas (DOCX, 65KB)
Additional questions on the use of zebrafish overseas (DOCX, 61KB)
National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research’s standardised questions about the use of pigs template

Indian applicants

DBT guidelines: annexure (DOCX, 35KB)

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