Application deadlines for Neurosciences and Mental Health Board funding are usually around January, May and September/October although sometimes dates can change so check the funding finder for details.
You can submit to any of the available deadlines in the year. We do not expect you to submit more than two applications at the same time and encourage you to focus on application quality, not the number you can submit. Read our guidance for applicants for details of our resubmission process.
Pre-application stage (new programmes)
The standard of applications for programme grants is very competitive. You must contact the relevant programme manager before you apply to check if your proposal is suitable. You must do this at least six weeks before the deadline.
You should email the programme manager, attaching a brief description of your proposal. The document should be no more than two pages, plus one page of references, and include:
- the title of the potential programme
- a list of the principal investigator and co-investigators and their affiliations
- a list of collaborators (if known at this stage)
- an estimate of the likely cost to MRC.
You should answer the following questions on the suitability of your proposal for a programme grant. You should also address its strategic fit and suitability for a major investment:
- is the proposed work a programme (a coordinated and coherent group of related projects to answer an interrelated set of questions)?
- does the work need long-term and extensive support?
- is the proposed work in an MRC area of high strategic priority?
- is there a case for a major investment in the context of the board portfolio and budget?
- do you have a track record that shows you have the potential to successfully manage and deliver a major research programme?
It is important that you clearly state your aims but we do not expect this initial document to contain detailed research proposals.
You must also attach:
- a CV (no more than two pages of A4)
- a list of publications for the principal investigator and co-investigators (one-page A4 only)
- a summary of the principal investigator’s funding history. We will assess your track record of research and potential to manage and deliver a major research programme.
If your application is to fund new or existing population cohort studies, you must first submit an outline to the Cohort Strategic Review Group. Outline applications are not needed for clinical (patient specific or disease-focused) cohorts.
Full application stage (new programmes and renewals)
We may invite you to complete a full application via our online Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S). We will do this in advance of the relevant closing date.
If you are submitting a new application, you should include a cover letter confirming the name of the programme manager who agreed you could apply. If you are applying to renew your grant, the cover letter should include details of the original grant.
You should read section two of the MRC guidance for applicants for information on how to complete the application.
If you want to include one or more industry partners as a project partner, you must also:
- complete the project partner section in Je-S
- submit an MRC industrial collaboration agreement (MICA) form and heads of terms
- include ‘MICA’ as a prefix to your project title.
Find out more about MRC industry collaboration agreements.
Case for support
The list below covers specific points that you should address when writing your case for support. It also provides details of what reviewers and research board members are looking for.
You should read the list in conjunction with the general guidance in section 2.2.3 of the MRC guidance for applicants.
You must provide the following in your case for support:
- State the aims of the programme
- Justify why you cannot fund the programme in other ways
- Explain why it is appropriate to establish a programme in this scientific area
- Explain how establishing a programme will help increase your productivity and create added value
- Show the significance of the programme for this area(s) of research
- Explain how the programme will improve the UK’s international standing in this area.
- Participants in the programme and existing funding
- You must provide a brief report on the progress of your recent research, including any preliminary data relevant to the programme
- What is the scale of support provided? This does not have to be detailed, for instance, the number of post-doctorates and/or technicians supported together with the total amount of consumables and equipment provided over the course of the grant).
- Describe the environment(s) in which the programme will take place
- If the proposal is for shared equipment or expertise, describe where this will be and how the host organisation will support it). Also describe the management arrangements for ensuring equity of access
- Describe the host research organisation’s support for the programme.
- Give details of the general experimental approaches, study designs and techniques that you will use. You do not need to describe each experiment but give enough detail to show why the research is likely to be competitive in its field. For example:
- highlight plans which are particularly original or unique
- describe all foreseeable human studies and animal experiments (in as much detail as possible at this stage)
- explain in greater detail how you will approach new techniques, or particularly difficult or risky studies, and alternative approaches if these fail
- identify facilities or resources you will need to access.
- Give sufficient detail to justify the resources requested.
Ethics and research governance
Exploitation and dissemination
- Provide a simple explanation of how you will manage the programme
Programme grant renewals: extra requirements
You must provide a progress report with an application for renewal. You should attach this as a PDF file to your Je-S application as a ‘final/interim report’ attachment type.
You must use the following set of headings:
- summary (not exceeding 250 words)
- progress (no more than five pages)
- describe progress made against original aims and objectives since the grant was awarded or since the last report
- any unpublished data must be included in the case for support.
You should include with the progress report:
- a list of publications arising from this work, including web links to online papers
- a list of staff employed on the grant up to the current date.
Applying through Je-S
You must apply through the Je-S system. Please read the Je-S how to apply guidance (PDF, 190KB) for more information. If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should give your administrative department sufficient notice that you intend to apply. Your organisation must submit your application before 16:00 on the deadline date.