Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Infections and immunity new investigator

Start application

Apply for funding to:

  • research infections and immunity
  • take the next step towards becoming an independent principal investigator.

You must have:

  • a postgraduate degree
  • the support of a host research organisation eligible for MRC funding.

You are not eligible if any of these apply:

  • you have held an award with a duration of three years or more and direct science costs of more than £50,000 per year
  • you have applied unsuccessfully to this scheme twice
  • you are waiting for the outcome of a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) fellowship application.

There is no limit to the funding you can apply for, but the typical full economic cost of a project is under £1 million. MRC will usually fund 80% of the full economic cost.

This funding usually lasts three years and covers up to 50% of your salary.

This is an ongoing scheme. Application rounds close every January, May and September.

Who can apply

This opportunity is one of a number of new investigator research grants.

It is aimed at researchers in the field of infections and immunity who are capable of becoming independent principal investigators and are now ready to take the next step towards that goal.

You can apply for funding to carry out research at your current eligible research organisation or any other eligible research organisation you want to move to.

You can find details of eligible types of research organisations in section 1.1 of the MRC guidance for applicants.

You must:

  • have research organisation support
  • be able to show that your skills and experience match those in the ‘transition to independence’ stage of the MRC applicant skills and experience table, such as showing evidence of career progress and clear plans to develop your own research niche
  • provide a clear rationale of why this grant will best support your long-term career goals and chosen career route
  • have at least a postgraduate degree, although most applicants have a PhD or medical degree
  • be the sole intellectual leader of the proposed project, although we will allow co-investigators when they bring expertise to the project which is outside the applicant’s field
  • focus your application within the research area of infections and immunity.

You are also eligible to apply if you:

  • are employed as a postdoctoral research assistant, but this grant cannot start until your current work finishes
  • hold a lecturer appointment, a junior fellowship or another research staff position
  • hold or have held an early career training fellowship such as an MRC skills development fellowship
  • do not have a contract with your chosen host institution
  • are either a non-clinical or clinically active researcher.

You do not need any postdoctoral experience to be eligible to apply.

You can only have one new investigator research grant (NIRG) or fellowship proposal under consideration by MRC at any one time.

Who is not eligible to apply

You are not eligible to apply if you have achieved independence, for example by receiving substantial grant income as a principal investigator.

‘Substantial grant income’ is typically defined as grants or fellowships up to three years long, with more than £50,000 direct science costs (excluding the principal investigator’s salary) per year.

If you are unsure whether you fulfil the eligibility criteria, contact an MRC programme manager to discuss further.

You are also not eligible if you have:

If you have any doubts about your eligibility, you should contact the relevant MRC programme manager to find out whether you can apply.

If you are still unsure as to whether you are eligible to apply, read our NIRGs frequently asked questions for situation-specific eligibility information.

What we're looking for

We are looking for new investigators with a proposal for research that increases understanding within the field of infections and immunity.

The infections and immunity board funds research into infectious human disease and disorders of the human immune system.

The board supports a diverse portfolio of research of relevance to the UK and globally and addresses both long-standing questions and supports the investigation of emerging higher-risk opportunities.

Research we fund includes, but is not limited to, the following areas:

  • discovery research relating to:
    • human pathogens
    • pathogenicity
    • antimicrobial resistance
    • host pathogen responses including inflammation and the development function and disorders of the immune system where this informs mechanism of disease
  • immune disease including:
    • allergy (except asthma and other organ-based disorders)
    • transplantation immunology
    • systemic immune disorders
    • auto-immune disease
    • use of in silico systems, relevant animal models and experimental studies in humans throughout the life course
  • population-level research using epidemiological, genetic and omic approaches, and computational modelling, to:
    • elucidate disease risks, aetiologies and progression
    • understand the evolution of pathogen populations and epidemic preparedness
  • research to inform novel strategies for preventing and controlling infectious and immune disease, including:
    • vector control
    • predictive modelling
    • early development research to inform future intervention strategies including vaccines

Find out more about the infections and immunity challenges identified by the board.

We encourage you to contact us first to discuss your application, especially if you believe your research may cross MRC research board or research council interests.

If your application fits another research board remit better then we may decide to transfer it there to be assessed.

Co-investigators can be involved but must bring expertise to the project which is outside the applicant’s field. Your current supervisor or lab head should not be a co-investigator.

How you spend your time

We expect you will want to combine your research project with other activities.

For example:

  • time spent on other research grants or clinical duties
  • teaching
  • administration duties
  • other time spent in faculty.

You may spend up to 50% of your contracted working time on this project and we will cap our contribution to your salary at this level.

If you want to spend more time than this on your project, you must provide a strong scientific rationale and your host institution will need to underwrite the extra time.

The salary requested should be in line with the research organisation’s usual new investigator levels.

Project duration

NIRGs usually last three years and are not renewable. It may be possible to apply for a longer period but you will need to justify why this is necessary.

Projects help applicants in the transition to independence so will not usually be for shorter periods.

What we will fund

We will fund 80% of the full economic costs of your project. You can request funding for costs such as:

  • a salary contribution, capped at 50% of your total working time
  • the salary for any hours that your co-investigators will spend working on the project
  • support for extra research or technical posts
  • consumables and equipment
  • travel costs
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
  • estates or indirect costs.

There is no set limit to the funding available, but your application must be for an amount that:

  • is appropriate to the project
  • you can justify in order to deliver the objectives of the proposed research.

Your application must show 100% of the full economic cost. We will fund up to 80% of the full economic cost of your research to your institution.

Find out more about full economic costing.

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.

How to apply

You can submit to any one of the available deadlines in the year.

You may only submit to the new investigator scheme twice. You can submit a second application only if your first is not successful.

You must wait at least a year after your first submission before submitting a second application.

Applying through Je-S

You must apply through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

For more information, please read the Je-S how to apply guidance (PDF, 191KB).

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: standard proposal
  • scheme: research grant
  • call/type/mode: New investigator research grants (NIRG) only research boards Sep 2022.

After completing the application, you must select ‘submit document’. This will send your application to your host organisation’s administration.

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

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. You should allow sufficient time for this between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date.

You should give your administrative department sufficient notice that you intend to apply.

Your organisation must submit your application before 16:00 on 13 September 2022.

What to include in your application

In addition to the Je-S application, you will also need to include the following mandatory attachments:

  • you must use the NIRG curriculum vitae (CV) and salary template (your CV should be no more than two sides of A4)
  • a CV is also required for each named researcher and co-investigator. Each CV should be no more than two sides of A4
  • publications (up to one side of A4 per named person)
  • a case for support. If your application duration is:
    • 36 months or less, your case for support must not exceed eight sides of A4
    • 37 months or more, your case for support must not exceed 12 sides of A4
  • a justification of resources. Should be no more than two sides of A4
  • a data management plan (DMP). Page length can vary, see section 2.2.7 of our attachments guidance. Applicants must use the available DMP template form.

If your research includes excess treatment costs of studies involving human participants, you will need to include a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT).

For details and access to the SoECAT form see the National Institute for Health and Care Research’s information on excess treatment costs.

If there will be a researcher co-investigator on your project you will need to include a statement of support for Researcher Co-Investigators. This should be no more than two sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper or a PDF of an email.

Optional attachments include:

  • covering letter: this can be up to two sides of A4 using a sans-serif typeface (Arial or equivalent) and font size of 11pt
  • letters of support: each letter can be up to two sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper or a PDF of an email.

You can find full details of what to include in mandatory and optional attachments in section 2.2 attachments guidance.

Guidance for applicants

The MRC guidance for applicants:

  • helps you check your eligibility
  • guides you through preparing a proposal
  • shows you how to prepare a case for support
  • provides details of any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply.

Industrial partner information

If you want to include one or more industry partners as a project partner, you must also complete the project partner section in Je-S.

Each project partner must provide a project partner letter of support, a maximum of two pages on headed paper or a PDF of an email.

The letter must:

  • be an integral part of the application
  • focus on the proposal it accompanies which includes the requirement to include a project partner letter of support.

Full details of the content the project partner should include in their letter of support are provided in section 2.2.6 of the MRC guidance for applicants.

Declaration

Your NIRG application must include a declaration confirming that you have originated the research question and written the research application. The declaration is limited to one page.

Attach your declaration to the Je-S form using the ‘letter of support’ attachment type.

Host organisation statement of support

Research organisations must also attach a statement of support to all applications, signed by a senior authority.

It should:

  • support the application including through long-term financial commitment
  • describe why the organisation considers you to be a suitable candidate for a new investigator grant
  • lay out plans for how the organisation will mentor, guide and support your career development
  • detail how they will financially support non-project time
  • confirm that you are a recognised and valued part of their team, integrated into the research organisation, and able to develop your independence and the focus of your research
  • detail the internal process the application has gone through before submission
  • describe how the research organisation will support you following the end of the award
  • provide details of a named senior academic who has supported you during the development of your application and who will continue to do so.

This statement of support should also describe how the host organisation will support you, for instance by providing:

  • guidance and training on setting up a research group, building partnerships and collaborations or with public engagement
  • rapid access to resources at the research organisation through knowledge of appropriate processes and systems
  • access to career development support and advice to enable future career transitions
  • support for any proposed leadership activities
  • access to laboratory space or investment in equipment to establish the applicant’s laboratory and access to communal departmental resources.

The host organisation statement of support document has a page limit of two pages.

When uploading the attachment to your Je-S form, please select the attachment type ‘host organisation statement’ and describe the uploaded document as ‘Host organisation statement of support’.

MRC industry collaboration framework

If your proposal will include industry collaboration, you will need to include:

The completed ICF form should be uploaded to the Je-S attachments section using the ‘MICA form’ document type.

Please type ‘Industry Collaboration Framework form’ in the description box.

The heads of terms is a document which must be signed by each collaborator showing that they are willing to collaborate for the duration of the study.

When uploading this document to Je-S, if the ‘heads of terms’ option is not available under ‘attachments’, please upload it under the ‘MICA form’ Je-S document type and specify ‘heads of terms’ in the description field.

You should indicate in your project title that the proposal is ‘ICF’. Failure to do so may lead to the proposal not being correctly processed.

Research disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic

You have the option to include this one page annex to the case for support.

You can use it to provide additional information explaining any disruptions you have encountered to previous or current research, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (where relevant to your pending application).

For further information relating to the annex, please see the MRC guidance for applicants (section 2.2.3.6).

Frequently asked questions

View frequently asked questions from new investigator applicants.

How we will assess your application

We will assess your application against the MRC applicant skills and experience criteria (transition to independence) which focuses on your:

  • research vision
  • research experience and potential
  • personal development
  • leadership
  • communication and engagement skills
  • profile and influence.

We will also take into consideration the support that your host research organisation will provide.

We recommend that you review these criteria and discuss them with your research organisation when you are developing your application, as this will help you secure an appropriate statement of support.

When we receive your application, it will be peer reviewed by independent experts from the UK and overseas.

You can nominate up to three independent reviewers. We will invite only one to assess your research application and may decide not to approach any of your nominated reviewers.

Assessment criteria

Peer reviewers will assess your application and provide comments. They will also score it using the peer reviewer scoring system against the following criteria.

Importance

We will assess the importance of the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed.

Scientific potential

We assess what the prospects are for good scientific progress.

Resources requested

We will consider whether:

  • funds requested are essential for the work
  • importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested
  • proposal represents good value for money.

For more information about our assessment criteria, read our detailed assessment criteria.

Making the final decision

We will review scores and comments at a triage meeting and expect to continue with the highest quality applications with potential to be funded.

If your application passes the triage stage, we will give you the chance to respond to reviewers comments.

The board will then discuss your application and decide if it is suitable for funding. We will make a decision within six months of receiving your application.

All MRC research boards handle new investigator applications as a cross-board opportunity. This means that they may be prioritised during funding discussions.

Find out more about the MRC peer review process.

Contact details

Get advice on developing your application

Contact the relevant MRC programme manager.

Ask which science area you should apply to

Contact the relevant MRC programme manager.

Ask another question about your application

You can email the IIB admin team if you are not sure who you should contact, want to ask another question about your application or have a general enquiry.

Email: iib@mrc.ukri.org

Get help with Je-S

For queries about submitting your application using Je-S.

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Ask about MRC policy and eligibility

Get in touch with our research funding policy and delivery team.

Email: researchfundingpolicyanddelivery@mrc.ukri.org

Additional info

NIRG webinars are hosted throughout the year. Check for the next NIRG webinar.

Since January 2020, all successful NIRG holders are eligible to register for the Academy of Medical Sciences mentoring scheme.

Supporting documents

NIRG CV and salary template form
Data management plan template form

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