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2018 MRC-NIH Neurodegeneration Partnering Awards

Please note this opportunity is now CLOSED.
View all OPEN opportunities

The MRC has a strategic commitment to encourage international partnerships to tackle important and challenging research goals. The overarching aim of this scheme is to provide resources to MRC-funded early career researchers working in the area of neurodegenerative disease to allow them to forge long-term collaborations with National Institutes of Health (NIH)-based researchers. It is anticipated that the partnerships established through these awards will lead to the development of long-term collaborative research programmes that will be competitive for national funding.


The specific purpose of the scheme is to strengthen existing partnerships or to build new ones between UK and NIH-based research groups with common interests in neurodegeneration. To this end, we aim to fund visits by UK-based researchers to NIH-based research groups.

The call is aimed at early career researchers (ECR), excluding PhD or other students, for whom the opportunity to develop international collaborations can have an important impact on their research development and career progression. The awards will add value to research taking place in both countries by facilitating closer collaboration.

Research visit(s)

The aim(s) of the visit(s) will be specific to each application. For illustrative purposes only, these can include:

  • promote access to facilities, including training in new methodologies or use of new instruments
  • analyse and compare samples
  • data analysis
  • pilot work

This call is NOT intended to support attendance to courses or conferences and cannot be used towards salary costs.

The format of these visits is flexible to accommodate the specific scientific aims and family care responsibilities.

Successful applicants will be asked to participate in a scientific workshop in Washington (end 2018 - early 2019) that will bring together the UK and US research groups to share research experiences and ideas. We will write to you with full details of this meeting nearer the time.

Eligibility criteria

Early career researchers (ECRs) employed on a currently active MRC grant and PIs who are NOT established independent researchers (e.g. NIRGs, CDA/CSF/SDF fellows) are eligible to apply:

  • For the purpose of this scheme, ECRs are researchers who fall under “Early career” and “Transition to independence” in the Skills and Experience table.
  • The ECR needs to be employed on or be the PI of (e.g. NIRG, fellows) an MRC grant (qualifying grant) that is currently active and that will remain active at least until the end date of this scheme (31 March 2019).
  • The PI of the qualifying grant should be a Co-Investigator and sponsor for this application. This PI can sponsor a maximum of one ECR for these awards.

NIH host groups 

Researchers based in an NIH Institute are eligible to host the applicant.

  • The list in Annex 1 provides contact information of National Institute on Aging (NIA) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) research groups who have expressed an interest in hosting researchers for the purpose of these awards.
  • You may wish to contact other researchers in the NIH Intramural program conducting neurodegenerative research (see: https://irp.nih.gov/our-research/principal-investigators/focus/neuroscience) or your (or your sponsor’s) existing or previous collaborators based in NIH institutes.


Visa information required for the research visits can be found here https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/pes/dis/VisitingScientists/Pages/default.aspx. It is the responsibility of the awardee to ensure they are eligible, to allow sufficient time for Visa applications and to be aware of all documentation needed.


Applications across all areas of science relating to neurodegeneration are welcomed. Multi- and transdisciplinary research that brings together different areas of science are encouraged, although the focus and impact for neurodegeneration research needs to be made clear in the case for support.

Note that the aims of this application should not duplicate the work carried out in the qualifying grant.

Funding available

The total amount available for this call is £135,000 with a maximum total per individual award of £15K.

Attendance to the two-day workshop in Washington (end 2018 – early 2019) should be included in the application and budget.

Please note that research costs in the US labs are not eligible and should NOT be included in the application. However, these costs should be discussed in the initial project planning with the US host laboratories to ensure that the host labs are aware of any costs they would need to cover.

The applicants will continue to receive any salary they have as part of their current employment. No additional time will be added to an award (e.g. grant, fellowship, etc.) end date or submission date to compensate for time spent on their placement.

Assessment process and criteria

Applications will undergo rapid internal assessment by MRC staff and a panel of scientists. There will NOT be an external peer review of the scientific programme. Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • The value added to neurodegeneration science
  • The complementarity between the work proposed in this application and the objectives of the qualifying MRC grant
  • The extent to which the application identifies persuasive, personal development opportunities for the applicant
  • The multi/interdisciplinary nature of the application
  • The potential sustainability of the collaboration
  • The uniqueness of the opportunity and expertise of both collaborating groups
  • The benefits and future joint research likely to accrue from the collaboration and the possibility of further funding being sought as the result of the award
  • Level of commitment of the US group

Deadlines and submission details

Before submitting your application please read the MRC-NIH Neurodegeneration Partnering Awards guidance notes for full details on the application form and process.

All applications must be submitted no later than 16:00 GMT on 5 April 2018 utilising the MRC’s Joint Electronic Submission System (JeS).

Guidance regarding the create Je-S account process for overseas Co-Investigators is available in the guidance notes.

Key dates

Call announcement

January 2018

Call opens

1 March 2018

Closing date for applications  

5 April 2018

MRC-Panel meeting

April 2018

Applicants notification

April 2018

Earliest visit start

May 2018

Latest visit ending

March 2019


End 2018 – early 2019 (TBC)


Please address any eligibility and administrative queries to Mr Luke Ottley (Board Officer) or Dr Bruna Galobardes (Programme Manager) at MRCNIHNDinitiative@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk