Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Expression of interest: Establish a total-body PET facility

Submit an expression of interest for funding to establish a total-body positron emission tomography (PET) facility as part of a new national Total-Body PET programme.

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

We intend to fund two geographically distinct total-body PET facilities. Funding is also available for investment in associated radiochemistry facilities.

This funding is dependent on the approval of the formal business case by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). If approved, it will be offered through the UKRI Infrastructure Fund.

Who can apply

Standard MRC eligibility rules apply. This research grant is open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

As the principal investigator for your organisation, you can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet the eligibility criteria described in MRC’s guidance for applicants.

What we're looking for

We are inviting expressions of interest from eligible institutions to procure, install and operate a total-body positron emission tomography (PET) facility as part of a national programme. This programme will be spread over two geographically-distinct sites.

Funding is also available for investment in associated radiochemistry facilities. Proposals should include plans for utilising this investment, either at the lead research organisation or a collaborating organisation.

Full applications

If you are successful at the expression of interest stage, you must demonstrate within your full application that you will provide a facility that will be able to span the breadth of scientific interests and applications for total-body PET across the whole biomedical research community.

Your proposal should include plans to manage access for a diverse range of users who will have conflicting requirements of the system.

An overarching director will direct across the scanner and radiochemistry sites and be available for helping to stimulate community interest across academic and industry users.

The central programme will also help to manage access to the facility by external users, including industry, and coordinate access to the data platform. You will need to engage collaboratively with the overarching programme and other sites, as well as the broader PET community.

Funding available

Pending approval of the business case by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), this award would be funded to the successful applicants as part of the UKRI Infrastructure Fund.

It is expected that two awards will be made through this funding opportunity to host the scanner sites. It is possible that the two awards may be staggered with one award in the financial year 2023 to 2024 and one in the financial year 2024 to 2025.

Applicants will be asked to express a preference for the faster or slower timeline. The duration of the awards will be a maximum of five years.

Host institutions will be expected to articulate how they will operate the facility beyond the initial five-year funding as part of the full application.

Apart from the scanner itself, it is anticipated that costs totalling up to £5 million can be requested, including:

  • maintenance costs
  • a contribution towards refurbishment for the scanner facility
  • staff costs (for example, facility manager, technicians and nurses needed to operate the facility).

Institutional contributions, cash or in kind are anticipated as part of the full bid submission.

Additionally, up to £4 million is available to the programme for radiochemistry investment and you should outline in your proposal how your organisation, or a collaborating partner, could use some or all of this investment to support one or both facilities.

How to apply

Email your expression of interest

You must submit an expression of interest by email to ca@mrc.ukri.org by 1 September 2022 at 16:00.

Applicants proceeding to the full application stage will receive an email detailing how to submit the full application through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

It is mandatory to complete the expression of interest stage before submission of a full application.

A maximum of one application can be submitted per research organisation.

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

What to include in your expression of interest

Your outline should consist of the following documents:

  • application form (see the ‘additional info’ section)
  • outline case for support (10 sides of A4, see the ‘additional info’ section for the template)
  • draft work plan showing the projected timeline from procurement to operation as part of a national facility (one side of A4).

You must use the provided case for support template.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

How we will assess your application

Review process

The expressions of interest will be reviewed by an expert panel or scientific advisory board, who will provide feedback for developing the full bid.

It is expected that all research organisations with a viable proposal will be given the opportunity to further develop their proposal and proceed to the full opportunity stage.

At the full opportunity stage, assessment will be through review by an expert panel. The assessment process will include an interview where science strategy and delivery approach will be assessed.

The full opportunity stage will include further development of the expression of interest, including bringing in plans for the long-term sustainability of the system.

Proposals will be assessed in relation to their scientific strategy and delivery of the facility as part of the national capability.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Heather Burgess, Programme Manager, Infrastructure and Capital

Email: ca@mrc.ukri.org

Include ‘Total-body PET’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within five working days. Please provide as much information as possible in your email to ensure a rapid response.

Additional info

The UK has enormous strength in academic positron emission tomography (PET) and radiotracer research, but currently lacks the infrastructure to enable the clinical and commercial translation to realise its potential.

We proposed a community-led vision to establish a new UK national capability utilising total-body PET with two new state-of-the-art facilities and associated radiochemistry centres.

This will support novel research into physiological and systemic diseases including:

  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disease
  • immunology and neurological diseases (which require multi-organ assessment)
  • drug development.

This new platform allows the UK to realise the substantial benefits of this new technology in internationally-leading studies, addressing crucial questions in biomedical research.

This infrastructure will be transformational and drive innovative developments in medical research.

The plans will enable a number of benefits, such as:

  • healthcare through broader application of PET in new disease areas and patient cohorts previously not feasible (for example, paediatrics)
  • unlocking novel chemistry utilising the increased sensitivity to reinvestigate radioligands and overcoming transportation and toxicology issues with reduced dosages (and to observe whole body drug interactions)
  • maintaining the UK’s position at the forefront of biomedical imaging, particularly in difficult-to-diagnose, multi-organ diseases such as cancer, inflammation and dementia
  • forming a focus for collaboration, for global users that currently do not have access to total-body PET technology
  • economic benefits by becoming a global magnet for clinical research and providing industry access to this advanced imaging technology
  • cross-sector, cross-discipline scientific research, skills and training, and clinical development.

Supporting documents

Application form (DOCX, 54KB)
Case for support template (DOCX, 38KB)

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