Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Neurosciences and mental health research

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Apply for funding to support research projects focused on neurosciences and mental health.

You must:

  • be a researcher employed at a research organisation eligible to apply for MRC funding
  • at least a postgraduate degree.

You can involve more than one research group or institution in the project.

There is no limit to the funding you can apply for, but it should be appropriate to the project. We will usually fund up to 80% of your project’s full economic cost.

Projects can last up to five years, but they typically last three to four years.

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

Who can apply

You must:

  • be a researcher employed by an eligible research organisation
  • have at least a postgraduate degree, although we usually expect most applicants to have a PhD or medical degree
  • focus your application within the science area of neurosciences and mental health research
  • show that you will direct the project and be actively engaged in the work.

You are encouraged to include one or more industry partners as project partners in your application.

You can also include one or more overseas co-investigators if they provide expertise not available in the UK. The inclusion of an overseas co-investigator must be discussed and agreed with the relevant programme manager in advance of application being submitted to MRC.

You can find contact details for programme managers in our information on neurosciences and mental health research.

What we're looking for

We’re looking to fund research into neurosciences and mental health.

The neurosciences and mental health board funds research in neurosciences, mental health and disorders of the human nervous system.

We aim to transform our understanding of the physiology and behaviour of the human nervous system throughout the life course in health and in illness, as well as how to treat and prevent disorders of the brain.

The research we support includes the interactions between the nervous system and other parts of the body, the brain, mental health and physical health. We are also interested in how episodes throughout life impact on lifelong mental and neurological health.

We’re looking to fund research in areas including, but not limited to:

  • neurodegeneration
  • clinical neurology and neuroinflammation
  • mental health
  • addictions and substance misuse
  • behavioural and learning disorders including autism
  • cognitive and behavioural neuroscience and cognitive systems
  • sensory neuroscience including vision and hearing
  • neurobiology and neurophysiology
  • underpinning support, such as neuroimaging technology, brain banking and neuroinformatics.

Find out more about the science areas MRC supports and our current board opportunity areas.

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.

MRC neuroscience and mental health research grants:

  • are suitable for focused short or long-term research projects
  • can support method development or development and continuation of research facilities
  • may involve more than one research group or institution.

Project duration

We will fund projects lasting up to five years, although projects typically last three to four years. If your project will last more than three years, you must justify the reason for this. For example, if you need time for data collection or follow-up.

If your project will last less than two years, it must be for proof of principle or pilot work only. We expect proof of principle proposals to support high-risk or high-reward research by critically testing a key hypothesis or demonstrating feasibility of an approach that could lead to fundamentally new avenues of research.

Contact one of our programme managers for advice if you would like to apply for a short or long-duration project.

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 contribution to the salary of the principal investigator and co-investigators
  • support for other posts such as research and technical
  • research consumables
  • equipment
  • travel costs
  • data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
  • estates and indirect costs.

We will not fund:

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

How to apply

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

We do not expect you to submit more than two applications at the same time and encourage you to focus on application quality, not the number you can submit. Read our guidance for applicants about multiple applications.

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:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: research grant
  • call/type/mode: research boards Jan 2023 submissions

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.

MRC must receive your application by 25 January 2023 at 16:00.

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 submission route before this date.

Indicating the proposal is a research grant

Select the ‘grant type’ option from the proposal document menu, within the Je-S proposal form. Within the section, select the radio button adjacent to the ‘research grant’ option and select the ‘save’ button.

What to include with your application

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

  • a CV for each named researcher, including investigators and named researchers. 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 (up to two sides of A4)
  • a data management plan (page length can vary). See section 2.2.7 of our attachments guidance. You must use the available data management template.

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 (RCoI). 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

Our MRC guidance for applicants will:

  • help you check your eligibility
  • guide you through preparing a proposal
  • show you how to prepare a case for support
  • provide 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.

MRC industry collaboration framework

If your application involves the collaboration of one or more industrial partners, you should review the information published within the MRC Industry collaboration framework (ICF) to decide if you should submit your application under the ICF.

After reading the ICF information, if you decide that your application will include industry collaboration, you will need to include the following within your application for each collaborating industry partner:

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 company letter of support must use the available template and be uploaded to the relevant project partner entry you are required to add to your Je-S application.

Research disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic

You have the option to include a 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).

How we will assess your application

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 proposal and may decide not to approach any of your nominated reviewers.

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 will assess what the prospects are for good scientific progress.

Resources requested

We will consider whether the:

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

Read the detailed assessment criteria for each MRC grant type.

Making the final decision

We will review these 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 meeting will then discuss your proposal and decide if it is suitable for funding. We make a decision within six months of receiving your application.

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 NMHB admin team if you’re not sure who you should contact, want to ask another question about your application, or have a general enquiry.

Email: nmhb@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: rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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