Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Applied global health

The aim of this area of investment is to fund applied health research for global benefit with a focus on contextual relevance, equitable partnerships and global health impact. We recognise that global populations face diverse health challenges and we need varied disciplines and stakeholders to tackle these challenges.

Budget:
The annual budget for this programme is up to £7 million. It is expected that this will fund five to 10 proposals.
Duration:
This is funded through the applied global health research board, which is an ongoing initiative with annual funding rounds.
Partners involved:
Medical Research Council (MRC), Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

The scope and what we're doing

The applied global health research board funds research projects that will provide equitable global health benefits.

Applied research is defined as research seeking practical solutions to health challenges from late-stage intervention development onwards. This includes:

  • intervention development and testing
  • implementation research
  • scale-up research
  • health economics and research.

The aim is to support uptake of evidence into policy and practice with a predominantly applied focus that does not fit within the remit of other MRC boards and panels.

We also welcome cross-sector research combining expertise to meet a global health challenge. For example, a single proposal may include aspects of urban planning, health policy and non-communicable disease research. The research question might involve different disciplines and approaches from outside the health sector, but the primary objective must be health focused.

The resources requested should be commensurate with the objectives of the proposal. Application sizes include large applications of approximately £1 million, and small to medium scale applications. The board will take into account value for money when assessing proposals.

Areas of focus

Examples of areas in which applied research may be conducted include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • maternal and neonatal health
  • early childhood development
  • adolescent health
  • healthy ageing
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases and COVID-19
  • non-communicable diseases, including mental health disorders
  • multimorbidity
  • nutrition and food security
  • snakebite
  • intentional and unintentional injury
  • urban health, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, road traffic accidents and healthy housing
  • planetary health
  • informal settlements, conflict zones and displaced populations
  • primary, secondary and tertiary prevention
  • detection and diagnostics
  • mHealth
  • treatment, including surgery
  • pain management and palliative care.

The following grant schemes are available through the applied global health research board:

You must follow the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board (PDF, 632KB). This document provides details of:

  • the application process
  • how this funding opportunity differs from other MRC schemes
  • the assessment criteria.

Although New Investigator Research Grants are not available through the applied global health research board, we are committed to supporting early career researchers in applied global health. The board will consider each applicant’s career stage and proposed mentorship arrangements during funding decisions.

Areas we will not fund

We will not fund discovery research or research that includes an applied component that fits within a current board or panel remit. This includes early translation.

If your proposal includes health systems research or a late phase clinical trial, please contact the MRC international team to determine whether it fits the remit of the applied global health board. Contact details are listed below.

Why we're doing it

Global health strategy

The applied global health research board enables MRC to deliver against its commitments to global health research outlined in the upcoming strategic delivery plan.

The commitments include:

  • providing regular, researcher-led global health opportunities for UK and low and middle-income countries (LMICs) researchers
  • maintaining and expanding MRC’s global health research portfolio, ensuring contextual relevance and supporting effective and sustainable partnerships
  • establishing a portfolio of high priority investments, delivering best global health practice by prioritising equitable working and investing in research capacity strengthening globally.

MRC’s work in global health is motivated by a principle of equity and a recognition of inequity. Equitable partnerships are central to the board strategy, and are informed by the UK Collaborative on Development Research ‘Building Partnerships of Equals’ report.

We recognise that disparities in health outcomes between and within LMICs and high income countries have an intersectional impact on the global population.

We therefore encourage applications from LMIC principal investigators based in the Global South as well as those based in the UK and working in partnership with LMIC principal investigators.

Where UK-based researchers are leading applications, proposals must demonstrate scientific leadership and intellectual contribution from LMIC principal investigators. A clear plan for sustaining partnerships beyond the duration of the award must also be included.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Funding opportunities

Events

Board opportunities

The applied global health research board allocates funding in responsive mode and welcomes any applications responding to an applied global health challenge. The following areas are gaps in the global health portfolio for which we would particularly welcome applications.

Maternal and neonatal health

MRC’s work in this area is informed by the MRC-National Institute for Health Research overview of global maternal and neonatal health research priorities (PDF, 1.9MB).

Read more about the maternal and neonatal health area of investment.

Early childhood development

The board supports research in early childhood development, which encompasses the physical, socio-emotional, cognitive and motor development of children up to eight years of age.

Early childhood development is the outcome of nurturing care. This is a range of education, health, nutrition and social protection inputs and environments. Proposals in this area will be jointly funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as part of a coordinated effort to increase and scale up the evidence base for early childhood development interventions.

Read more about the early childhood development area of investment.

Adolescent health

Adolescence is a unique time in the life course. By improving health at this crucial stage there is potential to have an effect on adolescents’ future health and that of their future children.

Adolescent health has been a recent focus of investment for MRC, FCDO and the National Institute for Health Research, in partnership with ESRC.

Read more about the adolescent health area of investment.

Implementation science

Maximising impact from research remains a priority for MRC. To ensure that this priority is met, we are funding research to address the implementation gap and progress interventions towards real world impact.

This complements existing applied global health schemes addressing late-phase trials and health systems research by providing a regular funding opportunity for research, using robust implementation science approaches.

We expect this research to ensure that evidence-based health interventions are implemented in an accessible and fair way for the poorest and most vulnerable populations living in LMICs.

Read more about the implementation science area of investment.

Who to contact

If you are considering submitting a proposal to the applied global health research board or if you are not sure which board to apply to, please contact MRC international.

Email: international@mrc.ukri.org

We will forward your enquiry to the relevant programme manager.

Samantha Palmer, Programme Manager for global health

Policy, peer review and board operation

Email: samantha.palmer@mrc.ukri.org

Dr Hannah Boycott, Programme Manager for applied global health

Non-communicable disease, infectious disease, ageing

Email: hannah.boycott@mrc.ukri.org

Dr Caroline Harris, Programme Manager for global strategy

Global health trials, implementation science, health systems research, adolescent health, capacity building

Email: caroline.harris@mrc.ukri.org

Charlotte Allen, Programme Manager for interdisciplinary global health

Maternal and neonatal health, early childhood development, cross-sectoral global health

Email: charlotte.allen@mrc.ukri.org

General MRC policy enquiries

For general pre-award policy enquiries, please contact the MRC research funding policy and delivery team.

Email: rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

Governance, management and panels

MRC research boards hold their own research budgets and review and manage scientific activity within their specialist areas.

Find out more about the membership of the applied global health research board.

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.