Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Japan UK research collaboration in neuroscience, neurodegenerative diseases and dementia

Apply for funding to work with researchers in Japan in the fields of neuroscience, neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. We are looking for internationally competitive, full-scale collaborative and innovative partnerships.

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

We invite joint applications by parallel submission from researchers based in the UK and Japan.

This funding support will enable important synergy between researchers with shared or complementary interests.

MRC will provide matched funding and bi-lateral support with the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) for up to three years.

Who can apply

For support under this funding opportunity, applicants and organisations must be eligible to apply for funding from their respective country’s funding agency.

The expectation is that the UK principal investigator and associated costs for UK research would be funded by MRC. The Japan-based principal investigator and associated costs for Japan-based research would be funded by AMED.

The UK principal investigator must be based at one of the following, as per standard MRC eligibility criteria:

  • higher education institution
  • independent research organisation
  • government funded organisation (other than MRC-funded units and institutes)
  • MRC unit or institute
  • university unit (former MRC units).

For the MRC participants, standard UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) eligibility criteria will apply. Applications cannot be accepted from UK principal investigators in commercial organisations. See section 1 of the standard MRC guidance for applicants for further details about eligible UK institutions.

The Japan-based principal investigator must be affiliated with a domestic university or research institution in Japan where the proposed project will be carried out. For further details, please refer to the AMED guidance.

The funders are not seeking to support applicants or partners outside of the UK and Japan through this initiative. Please email your relevant contact (see the ‘contact details’ section) if you are considering involving applicants or partners from a third country in your proposal.

What we're looking for

Objectives

The main objective is to deliver research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborations between researchers from Japan and the UK in the following fields:

  • neuroscience
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • dementia.

This support will enable important synergy between researchers with shared or complementary interests.

Specific objectives that underpin the UK-Japan research collaborative initiative are to promote:

  • partnerships between UK and Japanese investigators in fields of biomedical, health and clinical research
  • the exchange of scientists, particularly early career scientists
  • knowledge or methodology exchange
  • complementary access to facilities, resources and equipment
  • stronger opportunity for collaborative research and catalyse further synergy.

Therefore, it is expected that jointly-planned collaborative UK-Japan research applications will be submitted.

Scope

This opportunity aims to support research projects that address major questions in the fields of neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease and dementia, leveraging strengths of researchers in both the UK and Japan. It is expected that project outcomes will lead to next-generation neuroscience research.

Applications should centre around conditions causing cognitive decline in the human brain and focus on:

  • human brain repair
  • new therapeutic options for neurodegenerative diseases with cognitive decline, such as dementia
  • understanding the underpinning mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease and dementia, and associated mental health conditions.

The use of the following within a project are encouraged and should be well articulated:

  • novel strategies
  • computational approaches
  • informatics using ‘big data’
  • multidisciplinary approaches
  • advanced techniques.

The following are examples of types of studies that should not be the main focus of research applications, but may contribute to their outcomes:

  • epidemiological studies
  • cohort studies
  • intervention studies
  • basic research without human data.

Funding available

This initiative will provide funding for up to three collaborative research projects. MRC will make up to £1.8 million available to cover the UK components of the collaborative research projects selected for funding under this opportunity.

MRC will provide funding under standard arrangements and at 80% full economic cost. The UK element of funding will not cover UK PhD studentships or requests for capital items.

How to apply

Intention to submit stage

Researchers planning to submit to this scheme should submit a short intention to submit by 24 August 2022 at 16:00 (UK time).

It is the responsibility of the UK principal investigator to submit the intention to submit on behalf of the UK-Japan research collaboration.

This step does not form part of the review process. MRC and AMED will not undertake eligibility checks at this point. You should not await a response from the funders following the intention to submit submission, but simply continue with the development of the full proposal to be submitted by the deadline. MRC and AMED will use the intention to submit to help prepare for the review process.

You are not expected to submit an intention to submit to AMED as well. However, all details submitted to MRC will be shared with AMED.

Full application stage

UK and Japan-based applicants must apply separately to their respective funding agencies for the funding component requested within each country, but this must be based around a common research plan and vision. The application must be jointly prepared by both UK and Japan-based applicants. Please note, failure to submit a valid application to both MRC and AMED by the respective deadlines will invalidate both submissions.

Japan-based applicants must submit through the AMED online submission system, e-Rad by 18:00 (JST) on 22 September 2022, please see the AMED guidance.

UK-based applicants

Only the UK principal investigator creates the Je-S application. Any collaborating investigators from other research organisations (UK or overseas) must be added to the application depending on their involvement and responsibilities whilst working on the project.

The UK principal investigator must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

They can find advice on completing their application in the:

We recommend they start their application early.

Their host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting the application

Before starting an application, the UK principal investigator will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying, they must:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: Japan AMED Neuroscience 2022

This will populate:

  • council: MRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: research grant
  • call/type/mode: Japan AMED Neuroscience 2022

Once they have completed their application, make sure they ‘submit document’.

The UK principal investigator can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue their application later.

Deadline

MRC must receive the application by 22 September 2022 at 16:00 UK time.

The UK principal investigator will not be able to apply after this time. They must leave enough time for their proposal to pass through their organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

They should ensure they are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

The UK and Japan-based applicants should jointly prepare a common research plan and the full application, including:

  • a case for support (including, if applicable, a one-page methodology annex and optional one-page Gantt chart), providing full details of the work proposed for both the UK and Japanese components
  • CVs
  • list of publications
  • letters of support
  • a justification of resources, using the opportunity-specific template.

A covering letter is optional for both applicants. The UK applicant must also prepare a data management plan, whilst the Japan-based applicant must submit a supplemental application form.

The UK applicant must also provide details on NHS costs, use of animals overseas forms and a MRC Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF) form, if required.

Further guidance can be found in the standard MRC guidance for applicants.

Completed Je-S form

All UK and Japan-based principal investigators and co-investigators must be included.

The costing part of the online Je-S form must reflect the UK costs, so while the Japan-based investigators should be included, hours charged on the Je-S form for Japan-based investigators should be zero.

Japan-based costs will instead be captured in the e-Rad website in addition to the justification of resources document.

Case for support

The case for support must be uploaded as a PDF to the Je-S and e-Rad application. The case for support may be up to eight sides of A4 in length (including illustrations, references and a project Gantt chart), plus an optional additional one-page methodology annex, using Arial 11pt typeface with margins of 2 cm on all sides.

In your case for support, you should address each of the following headings:

  1. Title.
  2. Importance of the research (including synergistic effects of the collaboration).
  3. Scientific potential.
    • People and track record (including plans for the participation of early career researchers).
    • Research environment.
    • Research plans and deliverables.
  4. Ethics and research governance.
  5. Exploitation and dissemination.
  6. Project partners.

Details of key issues included in the collaboration agreement, for example management of intellectual property, should be detailed in the ethics and research governance section of the case for support.

A one-page annex may be included in addition to the case for support page limit, providing additional detail of the methodology and experimental design aspects of the proposal. This information must be provided as a clearly marked annex at the end of the main case for support entitled ‘methodology and experimental design annex’. Please note that you are not required to duplicate information presented elsewhere in the application.

The use of this annex is strongly advised where the proposal includes the use of animals or human participants, or where the methodology or experimental design proposed is practically novel.

We expect all applications to consider the impact of the proposed research on gender equality. Applicants should outline how they have taken meaningful yet proportionate consideration as to how the project will contribute to reducing gender inequalities. This can either be done in the headings outlined above or in a separate subheading. We ask the applicants consider the following criteria:

  • have measures been put in place to ensure equal and meaningful opportunities for people of different genders to be involved throughout the project? This includes the development of the project, the participants of the research and innovation, and the beneficiaries of the research and innovation
  • the expected impact of the project (benefits and losses) on people of different genders, both throughout the project and beyond
  • the impact on the relations between people of different genders and people of the same gender. For example, changing roles and responsibilities in households, society, economy, politics and power
  • how will any risks and unintended negative consequences on gender equality be avoided or mitigated against, and monitored?
  • are there any relevant outcomes and outputs being measured, with data disaggregated by age and gender (where disclosed)?

CVs and list of publications

These must be uploaded individually to Je-S and e-Rad for each of the UK and Japan-based investigators and named research staff on the application.

You can use two sides of A4 per CV and one side of A4 per list of publications.

Justification of resources

You must use the opportunity-specific template (see ‘additional info’). This is for the total costs requested for the project (both UK and Japan-based costs should be fully justified because this document will be provided to peer reviewers and panel members).

It must be written in a minimum font size of Arial 11 point, with margins of at least 2cm. The opportunity-specific template includes details of the page limits.

You must attach it to your application under ‘Justification of Resources’. The justification of resources must contain a breakdown and explanation of the costs requested for this funding scheme by each partner, taking into account the requirements outlined under the ‘funding available’ section of this document.

The justification of resources should explain why the resources requested are appropriate for the research proposed, taking into account the nature and complexity of the research proposal. It should not be simply a list of the resources required.

In addition to the standard content for the justification of resources, applicants should include:

  • the GBP and Yen value of resources requested by the UK researchers
  • the GBP and Yen value of resources requested by the Japan-based researchers.

This is so that the value of the total funds requested for the research project can be assessed.

For the purposes of completing this section, 1 GBP equals 165 JPY.

The costs on both the UK and Japan-based side should be separate with a clear justification of each cost.

An identical version of the justification of resources should be submitted to both MRC and AMED through Je-S and e-Rad.

Optional cover letter

This must be two sides of A4 maximum.

For UK-based applicants: if you have submitted a similar or related proposal to any of the UK research councils in the last year, please provide details in a cover letter including what has changed since the previous submission.

For both UK and Japan-based applicants: the covering letter can be used to cover details such as conflicts of interest and names of conflicted experts that you request not to be used as peer reviewers by MRC or AMED.

Data management plan

This is only required for UK applicants and must be three sides of A4 maximum. See the MRC guidance for applicants for more information on data management plans.

MRC Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF) form

This is needed if industry is involved in the UK or in Japan. Find out more about the MRC Industry Collaboration Framework.

Letters of support

These must be two sides of A4 maximum, and dated and signed from:

  • the UK research organisation (or organisations) demonstrating support for the proposed research project
  • the Japan-based research organisation (or organisations) demonstrating support for the proposed research project
  • any project partner where an in-kind payment is being contributed.

If relevant, a human participation or human tissue letter must be signed by both the UK principal investigator and Japan-based principal investigator when human or human tissue research is proposed, or when the Japan-based partner or another third party (any organisation other than the host UK research organisation) is responsible for recruitment of people as research participants or providing human tissue.

If relevant, a use of animals letter should be signed by both the UK principal investigator and Japan-based principal investigator.

NHS costs (if required)

See section 3.5 of the standard MRC guidance for applicants.

Use of animals overseas forms (if required)

See section 4.4.6 of the standard MRC guidance for applicants and the use of animals overseas section of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research website. This attachment should be uploaded as a ‘letter of support’.

Format

All attachments should be completed in 11-point Arial typeface, with a minimum of 2cm margins. Applications will not be accepted where smaller or narrow typefaces have been used.

How we will assess your application

Following submission, peer review will be undertaken by the funding agencies. To be funded, proposals must be internationally competitive and at a standard equivalent to that normally expected to be supported by each funding organisation.

You will be given the opportunity to provide a written response to peer review comments in November 2022, prior to the panel meeting.

Key assessment criteria and perspectives for the submissions will be:

  • compatibility with the objectives and scope of the opportunity
  • significance and impact of the research
  • scientific rationale: novelty, innovativeness, importance and timeliness of the research
  • design, and feasibility of the project plan
  • partnership: including strength and clarity of collaborations and opportunities provided, and quality of the project management structure proposed, the added value of the UK-Japan collaboration, and engagement of early career researchers
  • quality and suitability of the research environment and facilities
  • value for money for Japanese and UK science
  • ethical considerations and governance arrangements.

AMED and MRC will run a joint review process based on the jointly prepared proposals submitted to the respective systems (e-Rad and Je-S).

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

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.

Ask about this funding opportunity

UK applicants

Email: international@mrc.ukri.org

Japan-based applicants

Email: sicorp@amed.go.jp

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Background

AMED is committed to fostering collaboration between the UK and Japan.

MRC has a strategic commitment to encourage international partnerships to tackle important and challenging research goals. In response to the promising potential for research partnerships between our two countries and based on the Memorandum of Cooperation signed by AMED and MRC in February 2017, this opportunity is dedicated to strengthening collaborations between researchers in the UK and Japan with a focus on neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease and dementia.

Japan and the UK are facing the health challenges of an ageing population, such as an ever-increasing burden of dementia. Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases have remained one of the leading causes of death in both countries.

This opportunity aims to support joint UK-Japan research projects that address major questions in the fields of neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease and dementia, leveraging strengths of researchers in both the UK and Japan. It is expected that research partnerships project outcomes will lead to next-generation neuroscience research.

Aim

The overarching aim of the UK-Japan collaborative initiative in neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease and dementia is to:

  • support world-leading collaborative research teams addressing major questions in the fields of neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease and dementia
  • enhance existing partnerships and develop new partnerships between the UK and Japan in the area of neuroscience
  • strengthen the strategic relationship between the UK and Japan.

Supporting documents

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