The aim of this programme is to support and fund research into basic biological mechanisms or technologies relevant to human health and disease, including understanding the aetiology of disease and developing treatments.
The Medical Research Council (MRC)’s high-level research priorities and how these will be tackled are summarised in its strategic plan: research changes lives. The research boards are one of the principal vehicles for delivering MRC investments and the Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board’s (MCMB) science underpins many of these research priorities.
Within these high-level priorities, the MCMB takes responsibility for MRC’s regenerative medicine activities, which incorporates strategic funding for new translational initiatives, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
The boards play an important role in developing strategy, within their particular areas of responsibility and they help to shape MRC’s overarching strategy. Working across MRC and with other partners, MCMB aims to tackle gaps in knowledge and infrastructure needs to deliver new insights and benefits to human health.
MCMB wants to encourage high-quality proposals and enhance MRC investment in two board opportunity areas. MCMB will use these, alongside overarching opportunities (early independent investigators, experimental medicine and advanced therapeutics), to prioritise investments during funding discussions. MCMB will assess progress against its opportunity areas annually but expects to keep them for at least three years.
MCMB is also keen to support researchers who want to establish their independence or who are early in their independence. MCMB is committed to developing new technologies and their application to biomedical science and is keen to see applications that fall under the MRC, BBSRC and EPSRC Technology Touching Life (TTL) initiative. This aims to foster interdisciplinary research into innovative technological capabilities that will drive world-leading basic health and life sciences discovery research. MCMB is happy to support joint funding with its partner research councils. The research complex at Harwell partnership aligns with the TTL initiative’s interests. The complex offers laboratory space and specialist equipment to support work using the Diamond synchrotron, Central Laser Facility and ISIS neutron facility on the Harwell campus. MCMB is keen to consider applications that seek accommodation within this facility. If you wish to discuss submitting an application in this area email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global health is also a strategic priority of MRC and MCMB is keen to receive applications in this area that fall within the board remit. Notable opportunities include research that explores the links between environmental exposure and human disease in low and middle income countries (LMICs) under the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund initiative.
Our science areas
- cell biology: understanding the fundamental properties, structure and function of the cell and how it responds to and influences its local environment
- structural biology and biophysics: understanding the atomic organisation of molecules and macromolecular complexes and the dynamic, functional relationships between these components in cells and biological systems
- molecular and functional genetics, epigenetics, genomics: understanding the fundamental mechanisms of replication, gene regulation and functional genetics and genomics
- developmental and stem cell biology (excluding neurobiology): understanding the mechanisms of development, differentiation, growth and regeneration at the molecular, genetic and cellular levels
- regenerative medicine: mechanisms underpinning regenerative medicine – this excludes research that focuses on particular organs or tissues, other than haematology
- molecular haematology: investigating mechanisms underpinning blood diseases at the molecular, genetic, cellular and systems levels, including aetiology and prognosis
- the development and application of chemical, biological and physical tools to study and manipulate biological systems relevant to health and disease (for example, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, chemical biology and gene or cell therapy)
- medical bioinformatics (including biostatistics, computational biology and systems biology): development and application of analytical approaches to understand biological mechanisms in human health and disease
- cancer: basic cancer biology, translational research and epidemiology, including exploring the mechanisms of existing and new therapeutics (small molecules, radiation and biologics) and the adverse health effects of radiation exposure
- toxicology and adverse health effects of environmental exposures: exploring the causal pathways and mechanisms through which toxic insults (for example, environmental agents, xenobiotics, adverse drug reactions, radiation) cause adverse outcomes and ill health
- pharmacology: understanding the mechanisms of drug action at molecular, cellular and systems levels to improve efficacy and targeting (including through stratification), and minimise adverse or off-target effects.
To achieve our strategic objectives, MRC delivers research excellence through a series of flexible investment mechanisms, including joint investments with other funders, meeting the diverse research needs across the UK, and overseas. We are keen to support collaborative, multidisciplinary research that brings the best expertise and technologies together to tackle the major challenges in biomedicine. The usual support mechanism is through individual grants awarded to UK higher education institutions.
Major strategic investments
Where more concerted action is needed, MRC invests through institutes, units and centres, incorporating strong leadership, mission-focused research, training or capacity-building, and applying innovative technology and methodology to tackle major research challenges. These investments include strategic partnerships with host universities, and a number include joint support with other funders.
We encourage opportunities for collaborative research partnerships (for example, biomedical scientists, physicists or engineers, chemists, bioinformaticians) and those that apply interdisciplinary approaches (such as chemical biology, computational or systems biology, imaging technologies, innovative model systems, for example, organoids) to support our objectives.
As part of MRC’s capacity-building activities in toxicology (including those related to environmental exposures and adverse drug reactions), MCMB supports the integrative toxicology training partnership. This is a core investment through the MRC Toxicology Unit to strengthen training, academic networking and capacity building across complementary disciplines of toxicology research.