Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Expression of interest: Motor Neurone Disease Translational Accelerator

Apply for funding to the Motor Neurone Disease Translational Accelerator (MNDAcc). The programme is intended to support diagnostics, treatment and prevention interventions emerging from a growing understanding of disease mechanisms.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for MRC funding.

There is no set budget limit for proposals. We expect to fund eight to 12 proposals and it is essential that the requested budget is fully justified.

Projects can be no longer than 24 months in duration. It is anticipated that most will run for six to 18 months.

Who can apply

We invite proposals focused on MND from all UK-based researchers.

You should be based at any eligible UK research organisation. For more information on eligibility criteria for individuals and research organisations see additional guidance at

You may only serve as principal (lead) investigator on a single proposal. However, you may participate on other proposals as co-applicant and serve as co-applicants on multiple proposals.

While collaboration, including with industry, is encouraged, research groups may work singly or in multisite consortia.

Proposals may involve collaboration with industry and financial or in-kind contributions from industry partners are welcome. However, MNDAcc funding cannot be provided to industry partners. If you are preparing proposals involving an industry partner, you should review the MRC guidance to determine whether a submission under the Industrial Collaboration Framework is required.

What we're looking for

This funding opportunity seeks applications for human-based studies with a clear pathway to impact. Successful projects will include people with or at risk of MND and laboratory-based studies with samples, tissues, cell-lines or data derived from people with or at risk of MND, and appropriate controls.


  • must focus on human-based approaches
  • should be hypothesis driven
  • should be achievable in six to 18 months

In-scope projects

In-scope projects include, but are not limited to:

  • projects to develop, validate or apply biomarkers for disease stratification, monitoring progression, clinical trials and more
  • projects to demonstrate target engagement
  • early phase clinical trials and experimental medicine
  • leveraging existing cohorts to validate biomarkers
  • analysis of human samples and data generated from earlier clinical trials
  • evaluation of novel fluidic biomarkers for diagnosis, proximity, or monitoring
  • development of novel patient-derived cellular models of disease (for example, organoids, induced pluripotent stem cell) with specific aim of supporting translational research
  • nested studies within existing MND research trials and consortia, where additional investment could increase impact

Out-of-scope activities

Ineligible or out of scope activities include:

  • fundamental or discovery neuroscience research
  • animal-based studies
  • sample characterisation or phenotyping projects
  • creating or expanding cohorts

You are invited to take advantage of Dementias Platform UK (DPUK) and UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) scientific and technological platforms, resources and expertise. These include, for example:

  • fluid based and digital biomarkers
  • proteomics
  • single cell and spatial transcriptomics
  • MND smart trials platform
  • innovation and business support
  • streamlined contractual templates
  • end-to-end data management
  • multimodal data analysis
  • networks for brain imaging (magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, magnetoencephalography)
  • induced pluripotent stem cells

Whereas proposals that will benefit from these resources are welcome, proposals are not required to use these resources. However, data will be required to be made available through the DPUK Data Portal.

Funding available

Funds may be used to cover:

  • scientific, medical, and technical personnel
  • research consumables and reagents.
  • appropriate contract research organisation costs
  • service costs commensurate with the specific use of equipment

Ineligible costs include:

  • conference and other meeting registration and travel
  • publishing costs
  • industry partner costs
  • PhD studentships

Modest travel costs may be included but only when travel is necessary for the successful delivery of the research. Funds may not be used for the purchase of equipment unless the you can demonstrate that the proposed equipment is an essential component of the project and is otherwise unavailable (including via a collaborator).

Applications should be costed under MRC’s standard 80% of the full economic cost (FEC) methodology.

Permitted exceptions (see MRC guidance for applicants) will be funded at 100% FEC.

How to apply

Find advice on completing your application.

We recommend you start your application early.

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

Submitting your application

There are two stages to this application process. Both should be submitted via the MNDAcc programme.

Step one: expression of interest

Expressions of interest will be reviewed by the MNDAcc Scientific Steering Group, which will recommend those proposals to progress to the full application stage.

Your expression of interest should be structured as follows:

  • project title
  • start and end dates
  • investigator details: list of investigators and contribution to the project
  • scientific aims, study rationale and translational impact (400 words)
  • summary of project plan (600 words)
  • resources requested (table)

Step two: full applications

You will be informed in December 2024 if you have been selected to submit a full application. Full applications will go to independent peer review, including the Scientific Steering Group and other experts. The Scientific Steering Group will make funding recommendations to the MNDAcc Executive.

Full applications will be structured as follows:

  • project title
  • start and end dates
  • investigator details: list of investigators and contribution to the project
  • lay summary
  • scientific abstract
  • scientific aims and translational impact
  • background and preliminary data
  • translational pathway
  • risk mitigation
  • research plan to include:
    • collaboration contributions and management
    • experimental plan
    • project timeline and go or no go milestone decision points
    • risk management
    • future plans
    • references
  • detailed budget and justification of resources requested
  • intellectual property disclosure
  • data management plan


We must receive your expression of interest by 1 December 2023.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

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

How we will assess your application

You will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • in scope and responsive to the funding opportunity remit including relevance to and impact on people affected by MND or frontotemporal dementia
  • vision of the project
  • feasibility of project plan:
    • project plan and milestones
    • methodology, experimental and statistical design
    • risk mitigation and management
    • research environment and infrastructure
    • data management and sharing plans
    • resources requested
  • translational pathway. You should outline a translational pathway which should describe plans for ensuring that the project outcomes result in patient impact

Full applications will be invited in December 2023, with a deadline of 2 February 2024. Full applications will be subject to peer review, with an opportunity for rebuttal. Review will conclude by end of March 2024. Decisions will be communicated in April 2024.

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

For further information, please contact the MNDAcc team.


Additional info

MNDAcc is managed by Dementias Platform UK by providing infrastructure and key services. In addition, the UK Dementia Research Institute is providing access to its scientific platforms and capabilities.

MNDAcc has been designed to complement and support other recent motor neurone disease (MND) research investments including but not limited to:

  • Biomedical Research Centres
  • MND collaborative partnership
  • experimental medicine route to success in ALS platform
  • MRC and NIHR funding highlight notice

The MNDAcc programme is supported by an Executive and a Scientific Steering Group (SSG).

The Executive Steering Group is responsible for ensuring that the programme is delivered on time and according to the agreed scope. The group is chaired by an independent and internationally recognised researcher and includes a strong advocate for people affected by MND.

SSG will oversee the peer review of the full applications and deliver funding recommendations to the Executive Steering Group. SSG is based on an MRC-appointed oversight panel and will be augmented by non-conflicted MND researchers with expertise relevant to the applications received.

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