MRC is looking to support the development and evaluation of tools and methods specifically for working with older children and adolescents in longitudinal population studies.
This can include:
- improvement, adaptation and validation of existing tools and methods
- development of novel and innovative approaches.
The tools and methods developed through this opportunity will need to be delivered for testing during the pilot phase of the MRC Adolescent Health Study (AHS). AHS is a new, planned large-scale MRC longitudinal population study to accelerate research to understand health trajectories and outcomes in adolescents. The tools and methods developed will also build stand-alone capability in the wider research community.
Projects can have general health relevance or can be tailored to specific health research areas. They must be designed for use in the age group of older children and adolescents aged between eight and 18 years.
You should consider how your project outputs would have a positive impact on the engagement and participation of young people in research.
AHS is a new, planned longitudinal population study funded through the UKRI Infrastructure Fund. It will recruit 100,000 young people aged eight to 18 years at enrolment and follow their health and wellbeing for a period of 10 years.
You can find out more by reading our information about AHS.
This opportunity will support the development and evaluation of tools and methods specifically for working with older children and adolescents in longitudinal population studies. The outputs should aid and enhance:
We welcome applications:
- for methods and tools relevant for use in the age range of eight to 18 years
- to develop and evaluate tools and methods for use in specific, narrower age ranges within the eight to 18 year range.
If your project is focusing on tools and methods for the assessment of health and wellbeing you could collect information on any of the following factors, all of which will be relevant to AHS:
- family and social relationships
We recognise that at different ages, different approaches may be needed, especially for younger participants. For example, specific tools and methods may be required to measure the transition through puberty.
Where a tool or method is tailored to a narrower age range, applicants should consider how it could be embedded in a longitudinal population study where data collection will be repeated across the age range.
The aim of this funding opportunity is to develop and evaluate tools and methods that will help to enhance AHS and will give it the best possible chance of success. Separate opportunities will be launched for:
- an AHS Director
- study sites.
Proposals are welcomed across the full remit of the opportunity to understand trajectories of human health and wellbeing. However, we particularly encourage research that addresses needs in the following areas, which have been identified as strategic gaps through recent AHS virtual programme community workshops:
- the use of digital platforms and other tools for engagement and networking, both between study participants or with schools, parents or guardians and other key stakeholders
- novel and innovative approaches and digital technologies for data collection, for example, through gamification
- approaches for incentivising participants and schools which could, for example, include the sharing of anonymised data for analysis
- innovative tools and methods for ensuring the reliability, validation and standardisation of sample and data collection, particularly where it is performed at home in all or a subset of participants
- novel and innovative tools and methods for passive data collection that are ethical and acceptable
- novel ways of collecting consent and reconsent across the age range from participants and parents or guardians
- tools and methods to simplify data and sample collection and to reduce the burden on participants and researchers
- innovative biomarkers that are valid in the age range of the study
- tools and methods that are acceptable and informative within groups currently underrepresented in research
- adaptation and validation of existing tools and methods so that they are acceptable and appropriate for young people aged eight to 18.
You can access the draft report from the community workshops in the ‘additional info’ section.
Involvement and outputs
Projects should involve adolescents and other stakeholders as relevant, such as, but not limited to, schools and parents or guardians, noting that AHS will be a schools-based study. We expect applications to demonstrate how co-production will be embedded into the design and delivery of the project.
Outputs should be:
- feasible and acceptable for use within the age range of AHS and across diverse population sub-groups, including those with additional needs
- adaptable and able to evolve throughout the lifetime of AHS, to remain relevant and informative in the future.
The use of multidisciplinary teams is encouraged where appropriate, along with creative and innovative approaches and the forging of unusual connections.
Whilst tools and methods should be designed for use in longitudinal population studies, they may also be applicable for use with adolescents in other types of research study, for example cross-sectional or clinical cohort studies. There is no guarantee that the tools and methods developed will be used in AHS, either during the pilot or main phase.
Existing cohorts may be used to develop and evaluate tools or methods where relevant.
Applications may have the potential for global health relevance but must be directly applicable to research carried out in the UK.
Research outputs should be widely and freely accessible as soon as possible, in line with the UKRI open access policy.
What we want to see in your application
Within the application, you must be able to:
- demonstrate the need for the tool or method
- describe how the tool or method would work (or be used) in research with young people
- explain how co-production with young people will be incorporated into the study. If you do not intend to use co-production, you must explain why
- how the tool or method could be scaled for use in a large longitudinal population study and adapted over a 10-year period.
Your application will be strengthened by demonstrating that the proposed tool or method will be acceptable to potential users.
Although tools and methods will be developed and evaluated primarily for AHS, we also want to see in the application how the tools or methods developed would be implemented, adopted and have impact more widely.
Applications should indicate how outputs will be ready for testing at scale during the pilot phase of AHS.
While international collaborations are welcomed, projects should be relevant to developing and evaluating tools and methods for use in UK longitudinal population studies.
Out of scope
The following is not in scope and should not be part of your application for this funding opportunity:
- applications to lead AHS study sites
- applications to lead AHS
- development of tools or methods that are not tailored for use in the age range of eight to 18 years. However, the oldest participants in AHS will be recruited at age 18 and followed up until age 28. Methods that can continue to be used in this wider age range (eight to 28 years) would be acceptable
- development of tools or methods that can only be used with just a few individuals
- research on adolescent health that does not develop a relevant tool or method
- establishment of new longitudinal research cohorts
- studentships or individual career development support, for example fellowships.
£600,000 is available to support proposals under this opportunity. MRC expects to fund approximately six projects. The MRC contribution can range between £50,000 and £150,000.
Funds may be requested to support costs attributable to the study, including:
- investigator and research staff time
- data management
- reasonable adjustment costs for researchers with additional needs
No more than 50% of project costs should be allocated to feasibility testing.
MRC will typically fund 80% of the full economic costs of your project.
Timing and duration
AHS is due to commence in summer 2024.
Projects must be 18 to 24 months in duration.
Projects should start as soon as possible and no later than three months after the award date. This will enable the tools and methods developed to be available for testing during the initial two-year pilot phase of AHS.