Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: UKRI-Defra One Health approach to vector borne diseases

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Apply for funding to forecast, understand, mitigate and avoid vector (arthropod) borne disease (VBD) threats to the UK.

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

You must take a One Health approach encompassing both multidisciplinary research and multisectoral policy.

This programme has two components, including research consortia grants and a VBD data hub.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to:

  • £1,250,000 if applying for a research consortia grant
  • £625,000 if applying to develop a VBD data hub.

BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Projects will have a duration of up to three years.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity invites applicants from UK-based organisations that meet BBSRC’s standard eligibility conditions, including:

  • higher education institutions
  • independent research organisations
  • approved public sector research establishments
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded labs and facilities.

Check if you and your organisation are eligible for research and innovation funding.

All investigators, including co-investigators, must satisfy BBSRC’s standard eligibility conditions and will be responsible for the development and directorship of each research grant.

Read the BBSRC research grants guide.

Applications from organisations or individuals that are ineligible will be rejected without reference to peer review.

Principal investigators and co-investigators

This funding opportunity will take a One Health approach in vector borne disease (VBD) research. We expect the leadership of all project teams to reflect this.

Each grant and the data hub can include a maximum of five co-investigators. It is strongly encouraged that these investigators span a range of distinct disciplines and organisations (including geographical location), who should have equal status on the project to ensure the principles of a One Health approach are embedded in the project.

In addition, one of the co-investigators must be an early career researcher who has a proven track record of research in their own discipline. For the purposes of this funding opportunity, an early career researcher is defined as an individual who started their independent research career after 31 August 2016.

We encourage applications from individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, either as principal investigators or co-investigators.

Research technical professionals

As the first funder to sign the Technician Commitment, UKRI recognises the value of technical expertise to the UK research workforce.

For technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines, UKRI is committed to ensuring visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines.

Accordingly, research technical professionals who will play a significant role in the technical or intellectual direction of the project are allowed to submit a grant proposal as a principal investigator or co-investigator.

Read the eligibility requirements for research technicians and technology and skills specialists.

What we will support

We will support:

  • applications from research groups that combine a range of talent and expertise from different disciplines and that foster a cultural diversity of stakeholders and researchers with novel perspectives
  • interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships, including the involvement of private sector partners and other stakeholders.

However, businesses cannot be funded through this opportunity. Any businesses wanting to be involved in the opportunity will need to make an in-kind contribution.

We will also support partnerships with relevant government agencies, including:

  • the UK Health Security Agency
  • the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Partnership is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory.

What we're looking for

This joint UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Defra investment will support multidisciplinary and multi-institutional strategic, collaborative research focused on a One Health approach to vector (arthropod) borne diseases (VBD) research in a changing world.

This opportunity is an early action to deliver UKRI’s strategic theme of tackling infections.

Areas of focus

This programme has two components.

Consortia research grants

Each multidisciplinary (combining veterinary sciences, environmental, mathematics, medical science or social science) and multi-institutional consortium will include relevant key actors who will take a One Health approach.

The aim is to conduct research on important vectors and associated VBD that are a threat to the UK in response to climatic, environmental and land-use changes.

The key research areas of focus include, for example:

  • vector and pathogen surveillance and epidemiology
  • modelling and prediction of vector range and disease transmission
  • vector biology (including vector competence and ecology)
  • interactions between pathogens, vectors, animals and humans
  • vector control tools.

Each grant is expected to:

  • support multidisciplinary research to enable forecasting, understanding, mitigating and avoiding VBD threat in the UK, in response to climate, environmental and land-use changes both now and in the future
  • take a One Health approach in VBD research that encompasses both multidisciplinary research and policy.
Vector and pathogen surveillance, epidemiology, modelling and prediction of vector range and disease transmission

This includes:

  • understanding drivers (such as ecological, agro-ecological, climatic) of VBD incursion and transmission in the UK
  • developing surveillance tools and frameworks for early warning of vectors and pathogens
  • developing novel approaches to model effects of climate and environmental change to predict re-emergence and spread of VBDs
  • understanding how human, biological and environmental drivers, including climate, environmental and land-use change, may affect vectors and how vectors may respond in both short and evolutionary timescales
  • exploring the relationship between climatic, socio-economic, and demographic factors, along with variations in disease risk in space and time, to understand the risk of transmission
  • raising awareness of VBDs and their diagnosis and control among clinicians, veterinarians and the general public.
Vector biology (including vector competence and ecology)

This includes:

  • enhancing understanding of vector biology and ecology, including competency, transmission dynamics and emerging drug resistance against vectors and pathogens
  • developing and evaluating new tools, technologies and approaches for detecting vectors, reservoirs and diseases.
Vector control tools

This includes:

  • developing vector control and disease management strategies
  • understanding ecological solutions to managing the risk of VBD transmission.
Interactions between pathogens, vectors, animals and humans

This includes:

  • understanding of viraemia, bacteremia and parasite load in vector, animal and human hosts
  • enhancing understanding of transmission dynamics between environment, vector and hosts
  • vector host preference.

VBD data hub

The aim of the proposed VBD data hub will be to develop shared data infrastructure that brings together, and, where suitable, links data on:

  • veterinary and public health surveillance of vectors and pathogens
  • outputs from models and predictions
  • vector biology and ecology (including vector habitats and competency)
  • social and behavioural factors
  • vector control tools
  • associated climatic and environmental data.

To ensure transfer of knowledge within the UK and internationally, all data and results generated through this research opportunity will be hosted by the VBD hub. This will be a key resource for the VBD community and policymakers to ensure UK preparedness.

Expected outcomes

We anticipate enhanced preparedness for VBDs of animals and humans in the UK. This is through:

  • identification of UK vectors and reservoirs, enabling mapping of UK vectors and reservoirs by prevalence, vector competency and preference
  • development and evaluation of new tools, technologies and approaches for detecting vectors and reservoirs and diagnosing diseases within them
  • vector control tools
  • disease management strategies including diagnostics and vaccines
  • research and associated infrastructure that bring together veterinary and public health data to allow for joined up approaches for responding to VBD outbreaks
  • shared medical and veterinary vision within VBD preparedness planning
  • developing strong links between higher education institutes, government agencies and institutes
  • enabling research that informs policy.

Expected impact

We expect the impact of this investment to be enhanced preparedness for future outbreaks of VBD in the UK, through:

  • a coordinated One Health vector and VBD research that helps inform policy
  • building more substantive collaborative research projects to consolidate and augment UK capacity and capability in vector biology and VBD of animals and humans. This will ensure that the UK is better able to prepare and respond to future VBD threats
  • stronger links between academic researchers, public and veterinary health VBD experts and policymakers to provide evidence to inform risk assessment and risk management and improve translation of scientific evidence to inform policy as well as risk communication
  • a more cohesive transdisciplinary One Health research and innovation community representing the full span of the vector research landscape including biological, epidemiological, medical sciences and environmental fields.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can be up to:

  • £1,250,000 if applying for a research consortia grant
  • £625,000 if applying to develop a data hub.

BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Read the BBSRC research grants guide.

A project partner provides a substantial intellectual contribution to the project, and their organisation may also provide resources either in-kind or financially.

It is envisaged that a substantial in-kind contribution will be made by participating organisations matching up to the level of investment from funders.

This contribution could involve access to resources or infrastructure, such as the use of insectaries, or contribution from industry.

Research consortia grants

The funders aim to support up to four or five consortia. Each consortium can apply for funding up to £1.25 million at 100% full economic cost.

VBD data hub

The funders aim to support one data hub. You can apply for funding up to £625,000 at 100% full economic cost.

Duration

Projects will have a duration of up to three years.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

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

We recommend you start your application early.

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

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: ‘UKRI-Defra One Health Approach to Vector Borne Diseases’.

This will populate:

  • council: BBSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: UKRI-Defra One Health Approach to Vector Borne Diseases.

You must state which component you are applying to in the title of the application. The title must begin with:

  • ‘RCG’ for research consortia grants
  • ‘Data hub’ for Vector Borne Disease (VBD) data hub grants.

If you intend to apply for both research grant consortia and the VBD data hub, you will need to submit two separate Je-S application forms.

Applications must be submitted on a single Je-S form. The lead organisation must submit the application. Applications submitted on multiple forms will not be accepted.

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

BBSRC must receive your application by 27 October 2022 at 16:00.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

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

Attachments

You must also submit the following documents as part of your application:

  • case for support (maximum eight sides of A4, including references, figures)
  • justification for resources (maximum two sides of A4)
  • one team resume for research and innovation (maximum two sides of A4, excluding eligibility criteria table and additional information, one resume per application)
  • data management plan (maximum one side of A4)
  • work plan (maximum one side of A4, can be diagrammatic or written)
  • proposal cover letter (maximum one side of A4 that must include any declaration of interest)
  • project partner ‘in-kind contribution’ letter of support: project partners offering in-kind or cash contributions should provide a letter of support detailing this (maximum one side of A4 to be uploaded in the project partners section).

Resume for research and innovation (R4RI)

Instead of a track record section within the case for support and accompanying traditional curriculum vitae (CVs), we invite you to submit a resume for research and innovation (R4RI) narrative template (DOCX, 24KB).

The R4RI is a mandatory attachment and should be a maximum of two sides of A4, excluding the eligibility table.

The R4RI template should be uploaded using the attachment type ‘Other Attachment’.

The R4RI has been developed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as a narrative-driven replacement for traditional CVs.

This opportunity is one of a number of pilots of the format across UKRI.

Read our R4RI guidance (DOCX, 30KB). If you have any feedback on the format or guidance provided, please email culture@ukri.org You may be asked to complete a short feedback survey as an applicant using the R4RI.

The R4RI narrative is designed to allow you to showcase the relevant skills and experience your team has. The narrative encourages teams to include a wide range of contributions to the research and innovation landscape so that these can be recognised and rewarded as part of the assessment process.

The principal investigator is expected to lead the writing of the team R4RI narrative and coordinate input from named individuals on the proposal. It is expected that anyone who would previously have been required to submit a traditional CV, should be included in the team R4RI.

How we will assess your application

Proposals will be assessed by an expert panel of senior independent academics and appropriate stakeholders in January 2023.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed with reference to the scope of the opportunity and against the following assessment criteria.

Scientific excellence

This includes:

  • specific objectives of your project and whether they demonstrate excellence and originality
  • appropriateness of your proposed activities, with a clear and well-developed rationale for engaging partners with appropriate skills from relevant disciplines
  • your project’s potential to make a significant contribution to the advancement of the area.

Strategic relevance

This includes:

  • relevance of your proposed work programme and activities to the opportunity’s scope and objectives, as outlined by BBSRC in the ‘what we’re looking for’ section
  • alignment of your proposed work with BBSRC’s strategic objectives
  • value for money of the proposed project.

Timeliness and potential impact

This includes:

  • potential scale of impact arising from your proposed research
  • applicability of the research to possible end-user applications
  • potential of your proposed project to build a foundation for further investment.

Policy relevance

This includes how effective this research is in addressing government priorities.

Capability to deliver

This includes:

  • capabilities and sustainability of your assembled research team to deliver the proposed research
  • feasibility of delivering the proposed programme of work within the three-year time frame of the funded grant
  • a clear plan for supporting interdisciplinary work and training for project participants.

Reviewers will be asked to comment on research involving animals and ethical or societal issues raised by the proposed work to ensure best practice is followed.

Full applications will be assessed by a multidisciplinary panel.

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

Dr Madeleine Clark

Email: onehealth@bbsrc.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

Additional info

Webinar

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Defra will be holding an informative webinar to support this funding opportunity on 15 September 2022 at 12:00 to 13:00.

Register to attend the webinar. Please check your ‘other’ or ‘spam’ folder in your email inbox for the confirmation email from Zoom.

Conditions of the award

The funded consortia will be expected to comply with all the following reporting criteria:

  • funders (UKRI and Defra) must be invited to join the consortia external advisory group
  • participate in consortia grant progress meetings organised by BBSRC
  • in addition to Researchfish inputs, UKRI will request an annual progress report and a final report one month prior to the cessation of this grant to present the key outcomes and impacts of the consortia (a proforma will be provided by UKRI for this purpose).

Background

Vector borne diseases (VBD) are major threats to global animal and human health, accounting for more than 17% of all infectious diseases.

While most of the illness and deaths caused by VBD occur in the tropics, there is an increasing risk posed by mosquitoes and ticks both established and invasive to the UK. This is in part due to environmental drivers, such as climate and land-use change.

These environmental changes influence the habitats, geographical distribution, longevity and life cycles of vectors in ways that make disease transmission to animal and human hosts more likely and may in time allow these vectors to become established.

The role of vectors significantly increases the complexity of disease transmission mechanisms, emergence, epidemiology and intervention targets. A deep understanding of different vectors of VBD within the UK has been identified as a research gap area, as is the coordinated UK research capacity and capability to deliver this.

Understanding the impacts that climate, environmental and demographic and social factors have on altered distribution and vector competence of insect populations nationally will be key to mitigating any future vector incursions and hence preparedness for VBD outbreaks.

Many of the most serious VBDs simultaneously pose a threat to humans, livestock, and to other animal species. Many of these diseases are spread by arthropod vectors that are either already present in the UK or likely to establish in the UK in the future.

These threats are growing rapidly, driven by:

  • increased global movement of animals
  • humans and trade
  • social behaviour
  • climate change and ecosystem disruption
  • increased human-livestock-wildlife interactions.

Given the strong interaction between VBDs and environmental change and the intricacy of pathogen life cycles that involve multiple hosts, adopting a One Health approach is vital to enable the field to move forward.

This programme is aimed at strengthening connections between relevant disciplines (both within academia and policy development).

Supporting documents

Resume for research and innovation (R4RI) narrative template (Word, 24KB)
Resume for research and innovation (R4RI) guidance (Word, 30KB)
Equality impact assessment (Word, 39KB)

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