Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Applied global health research

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Apply for funding to support research that will address global health challenges and inequities.

We are looking to develop a portfolio of high-quality global research which will be diverse, promote multidisciplinarity and strengthen global health research capacity.

We encourage applications from principal investigators based in the:

  • Global South
  • UK, working in partnership with Global South investigators.

We will accept proposals of all sizes, including large research projects of approximately £2 million and small to medium-scale applications.

Who can apply

You can apply for this opportunity if you are a researcher based at an eligible research organisation. These include:

  • higher education institutions
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations or NHS bodies
  • government-funded organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • MRC institutes
  • MRC units and partnership institutes (including those in Gambia and Uganda)
  • institutes and units funded by other research councils
  • universities or higher education institutions based in low and middle- income countries (LMICs) with degree-awarding powers recognised by the government in which the organisation is based
  • research focused institutes based in LMICs either funded by the government of the country in which the organisation is based or by a not-for-profit organisation
  • research focused not-for-profit organisations based in LMICs with dedicated research capacity.

For more details on institutional and individual eligibility, please see the MRC guidance for applicants and UKRI eligibility requirements.

MRC particularly encourages applications from overseas researchers based in LMICs. Please contact the international team to discuss your proposal prior to submitting. The contact details of the international team can be found below.

The board recognises that applied global health research requires the involvement of a diverse range of collaborating organisations in order to affect sustainable change. As such, applications involving a not-for-profit organisation based in an LMIC will be eligible to be named co-investigators. This can include grass-roots organisations and community groups.

Researchers not eligible to apply

If you are a researcher based in China or India, you are no longer eligible to be a principal investigator. However, you are welcome to apply as a co-investigator, with an eligible research organisation as the lead.

It is expected that researchers from China, India and any high-income countries (HICs) make a significant contribution to their own research costs, including covering their own overheads.

Limit on the number of proposals

You must not be included as principal investigator on more than two proposals at any one time. You may support others as a co-investigator, as long as you have the capacity to do so without detriment to the project you are leading.

You must have a graduate degree, although we expect most applicants to have a PhD.

Diversity and collaboration

We recognise the diversity of skills necessary for a successful research team, and encourage proposals to recognise the contribution of technical professionals. This includes through the use of researcher co-investigator status, as appropriate.

We welcome collaboration with industry, which should be managed through the MRC Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF).

What we're looking for

We’re looking for research projects that will develop practical solutions to global health challenges and inequities. The aim is to fund a portfolio of high-quality global research which will be diverse, promote multidisciplinarity and strengthen global health research capacity.

This includes:

  • late-stage intervention development and testing, which can include global health trials
  • implementation and scale-up research
  • health systems, health policy and health economics research

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 you request should be appropriate to the objectives of your proposal. We will accept proposals of all sizes, including large applications of approximately £2 million and small to medium-scale applications. We will take into account value for money when assessing proposals.

You can apply for funding to address any health topic of relevance in the context where the research will be conducted.

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 also read the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board (PDF, 632KB). This document provides details of our assessment criteria and how this funding opportunity differs from other MRC awards.

Strengthening research capacity as part of your application

We are committed to strengthening research capacity within LMICs and the UK. All applicants are required to develop plans to strengthen research capacity within their proposal, which will be assessed as part of the peer review process and inform funding decisions.

We encourage you to start discussing capacity strengthening priorities as early as possible, in consultation with key stakeholders, both within and outside of your project team. For example:

  • researchers
  • laboratory technicians
  • data collectors
  • field workers
  • managers
  • practitioners
  • policymakers
  • research management offices.

We take a broad view of where capacity strengthening activities could be targeted, however plans must be directly linked to the proposed project. Activities could target the individual, institutional or contextual level (or span multiple) and plans should be proportionate to the scale of the project, with larger proposals expected to be more ambitious.

Find out more about the review process in the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board (PDF, 632KB).

Examples of capacity building include, but are not limited to:

  • building leadership skills amongst early career researchers
  • opportunities for mutual learning across the project team, such as through staff exchanges (for example, the context where it is being conducted in the subject of the research, engagement with policy makers and research management)
  • building capacity to working collaboratively, across disciplines and across practice-research boundaries (for example, with policy-makers, managers and practitioners in the system)
  • providing mentoring to improve the capacity of less-experienced researchers to generate new knowledge and achieve policy impact
  • team members attending training courses to develop specific expertise or obtain relevant qualifications (excluding Masters and PhDs)
  • opportunities for staff and associated health managers to author or co-author journal and conference papers and participate in national and international conferences
  • building organisational capacity (for example, in management, finance or communications)
  • formation of LMIC research networks.

Find further resources, tools and guides provided by UKCDR.

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 discussions.

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.

Board opportunities

These opportunities represent areas of specific strategic focus that help to inform discussions at funding meetings, but you can submit research proposals that focus on any applied global health topic.

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 from birth 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

Adolescent health has been a recent focus of investment for MRC, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the National Institute for Health Research, in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Read more about the adolescent health area of investment.

Implementation science

Maximising impact from research remains a priority for MRC. To ensure that we meet this priority, 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 most vulnerable populations.

Read more about the implementation science area of investment.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system and follow the below guidance before accessing Je-S.

If you are a UK lead applicant, follow the UK researchers Je-S guidance section.

If you are an LMIC researcher who is leading an outline application, follow the LMIC based lead overseas researchers section.

If you are an investigator or researcher based within an LMIC research organisation not currently registered on Je-S, follow the self registration process section.

LMIC based lead overseas researchers

Overseas researchers that are based at an LMIC, and leading an application, should firstly download the list of Je-S registered organisations to check if their lead LMIC organisation has previously been awarded UKRI funding.

If you find your lead LMIC organisation within the list of Je-S registered organisations, it is important to contact the submitter pool members of your organisation as soon as possible. This is to discuss arrangements to ensure the timely Je-S submission of your application.

The final submission must be completed before the advertised closing date of this outline opportunity, and must be made by a member of your organisation’s electronic submitter pool.

Further information on how to view submitter pool members details within Je-S is available within the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the applied global health research board (PDF, 632KB).

Self registration process

If your LMIC research organisation has not previously received UKRI funding, whether you are a principal or co-investigator within an application, you are required to submit directly to MRC through Je-S.

You must navigate to the Je-S login page and select the option ‘self-registration for organisations’ to add your LMIC organisation to the Je-S database.

Je-S account process for overseas researchers

Following the completion of the self-registration process, any overseas researchers without Je-S accounts should follow the create Je-S account application process as soon as possible.  You should do this by navigating to the Je-S home page or by selecting ‘create an account’.

Each researcher should ensure they create the correct Je-S account type, by selecting the option (check box), adjacent to the description ‘an Applicant on a Standard or Outline Proposal (Principal/Co/Researcher Co–Investigator)’.

Once completed, create the Je-S application.

UK researchers Je-S guidance

You are advised to liaise with your organisation’s research office as soon as possible, to discuss your intended application.

This early discussion will allow your host organisation to plan your application submission and ensure you complete your application in a timely fashion. This allows your organisation adequate time to complete necessary application checks before they complete the final submission to MRC through Je-S.

If you are a researcher based in the UK or at an overseas MRC Unit who has not created a Je-S account, navigate to the Je-S home page and select ‘create an account’.

If you have already created a Je-S account, but have forgotten your account username or password, you can retrieve a hint to your password and confirmation of your Je-S account username.

If you already have a Je-S account, ensure you have the correct level of Je-S account required to be included as an investigator (within the Je-S proposal).

If your organisation is eligible to apply for UKRI funding (for example, NHS Trust), but the organisation has not yet completed the UKRI eligibility process, you can still apply for this funding opportunity. You must follow the self-registration process as indicated above.

Creating the correct Je-S application (applies to all applicants)

We recommend you start your application as soon as possible, following the opening of the funding opportunity. You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

As stated in the MRC guidance for applicants, it is your responsibility to ensure you apply to the correct funding opportunity, board or type of grant and that your application is submitted before the published funding opportunity closing date and time.

When applying, select ‘New document’ then:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: outline proposal
  • scheme: standard outline
  • call/type/mode: Applied Global Health Research Board Outline Round 3 2022.

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

If you need further help with any aspect of the Je-S system, please contact the Je-S Helpdesk.

Your host organisation will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on completing your application.

How we will assess your application

MRC will assess your proposal in two stages.

Stage one

Your outline proposal will be reviewed by independent board members and MRC’s global health faculty of experts.

Stage two

If your outline proposal is successful, you will be invited to submit a full application. Invited full applications are subject to international peer review before consideration by the board.

You will be given the opportunity to respond to reviewer comments. The board will review all applications, including reviewer comments and applicant responses, to make a funding decision.

Assessment duration

If invited to the full submission stage, the assessment process will take around nine months from the outline proposal submission deadline to the final decision. Unsuccessful outline applicants will be notified within approximately three months of submission.

We will provide guidance on how to prepare a full proposal if you are successful at stage one, along with feedback from the initial review.

Contact details

Pre-award enquiries

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.

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

Email: rfpd@mrc.ukri.org

If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal or if you are not sure which board to apply to, contact MRC international.

It is also expected that you will have been in touch with the MRC international team prior to developing your proposal.

Email: international@mrc.ukri.org

We will forward your enquiry to the relevant programme manager.

International Programme Managers

Samantha Palmer, Programme Manager for global health (policy, board operations and peer review)

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-sectorial global health)

Email: charlotte.allen@mrc.ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

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