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Cohort Strategic Review Group

The Cohort Strategic Review Group (CSRG) assists the MRC in delivering its strategic objective of maximising the impact of population health studies. CSRG has two major roles:

  • To advise MRC on strategic priorities and policies to support cohort studies.
  • To assess outlines for major population cohort applications submitted to MRC (for both new cohorts and sweeps of current studies), taking account of the existing landscape of funded studies.

Overseen by the Population Health Sciences Group (PHSG), the Cohort Strategic Review Group (CSRG) assesses outline proposals for population-level cohort/longitudinal study funding across the breadth of MRC’s remit. The Group will decide whether an application should go forward as a full proposal based on its fit to MRC strategy, added value in terms of existing MRC and other funded cohorts in the UK and internationally, and the appropriateness of key study design plans as summarised in the outline. The terms of reference (PDF, 24KB) for CSRG can be viewed.

Where appropriate the Group will provide feedback to applicants on issues that need to be addressed in the final application and this advice will be shared with the lead MRC Research Board that will assess the competitiveness for funding of the full proposal. CSRG is not a funding body; it is responsible for looking at all applications for population cohort support (new proposals and renewals) and provides advice to both applicants and MRC’s Research Boards on any issues that need to be addressed, assuming a full proposal is invited. 

CSRG also leads in the development of MRC cohort-related policy, including strategic advice for the management of partnerships and regular review of the MRC and wider population cohort portfolio. In addition to advising the Research Boards, the Group advises PHSG, on strategic issues including; maximising use of cohort resources, data access and discoverability, opportunities to capitalise on new approaches and technologies, novel scientific opportunities arising from cross-cohort synergies and comparisons, and gaps in the portfolio.

CSRG normally meets tri-annually; the cycle of meetings is coordinated with the Research Board application deadlines.

Membership of CSRG (May 2017)

Professor Nick Wareham (Chair), Director MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge

Professor Daniela DeAngelis, MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge

Professor Beth Jeffries, University of York

Professor David van Heel (PDF, 35KB), Queen Mary University London

Professor Kate Tilling (PDF, 34KB), Bristol University

Applying for funding for a population cohort

MRC provides funding for large scale population-based cohorts, including requests for:

  • Support for infrastructure only
  • A combination of infrastructure with associated research
  • New cohorts
  • Renewal applications for existing cohorts; new data collection or continued access to and use of existing data.

All applications for funding for new or existing population cohort studies are required to submit an outline for assessment by the CSRG. Following review by CSRG, and if appropriate, the applicants will then be advised to submit their full application to the relevant MRC Research Board.

If the cohort draws its participants from a group with a specific disease or condition (i.e. it is a clinical cohort), an outline application is not required and applicants should submit their research directly to the relevant MRC Research Board or Funding Call.

All applications for cohort funding need to be science-led. Applications for new cohorts should be made in terms of the overall scientific impact and strategic need for the study in the context of existing national and international cohorts. In formulating their case for support applicants should refer to the MRC Strategic Review of the Largest UK Population Cohort Studies (PDF, 2.07MB)  and the MRC Cohort Directory.

Outlines should be prepared following the MRC Cohort Outline Application Template and should be no more than 6 pages of A4 in length. Outline applications should be submitted via email to populationcohorts@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk by 4pm on the day of the submission deadline.

Please note that the application template was revised in January 2017. Please ensure that you use the new template for all further applications as this contains important changes to the guidance and a new request for usage data from existing cohorts.

Outline submission deadline is 16:00 on the following dates:

  • 10 February 2021

For details of submission deadlines and meeting dates for Research Boards please see the Research Board submission deadlines page.

If the CSRG recommend submission of a full application, it is expected that the proposal should normally be submitted within 3 months of the approval. If this is not possible (for example, because of the nature of the feedback) this would need to be discussed with the appropriate MRC Programme Manager as soon as possible.

Applicants are asked to note that:

  • The invitation to submit a full proposal expires after 12 months, whereupon a new outline submission will be required.
  • Applicants will not be able to resubmit rejected applications for 12 months


Please email populationcohorts@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk if you have any queries.