MRC New Foundations for Ambitious New Programmes


The research councils have together announced the first phase of health research awards from the new £1.5bn Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). They will address issues affecting people in low and middle income countries (LMICs) using the UK’s world-class research expertise.

The MRC, AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC and NERC, are allocating over £20m to 41 short-term projects, across 39 UK research organisations, working in partnership with up to 32 different countries around the world. These will complement existing UK strengths in global health research, exploring new, more diverse opportunities, building broader multidisciplinary links and new partnerships in LMICs.

The awards focus on two areas:  non-communicable disease and infection (both MRC-led). New research awards in global agriculture and food systems (BBSRC-led) will be announced early in 2017.

The awards support moderately sized, short to medium-term investments spanning diverse research specialisms. The aim is to target new, innovative and multidisciplinary research that will meet the existing or future health needs of LMICs. A principal objective will also be to strengthen LMIC/UK research partnerships in order to champion world-class research.

Declan Mulkeen, the MRC’s Chief of Strategy, said: “The five research councils involved in the Foundation Awards have been working collectively to provide new and broader approaches to meet global research challenges. It’s encouraging to see these projects tackling the broader environmental and economic factors affecting health, as well as using new technologies to bring cost-effective treatments within reach.

He added: “The MRC has a strong track record in global health research, often in partnership.  Infectious disease has been the main focus and remains the largest area of funding, but as countries develop their health needs change.  The Global Challenges Research Fund will enable us to tackle a broader range of health problems, for local and global benefit.

“These awards represent a significant win for global research. We hope that many of the research partnerships being supported will move on to even more ambitious work over the coming years.”

Investments made through the GCRF will address global challenges through multidisciplinary research, strengthening capability for research and innovation within both the UK and low and middle income countries.

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