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Tackling AMR Theme 1: Understanding resistant bacteria

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

  • Status: Closed
  • Open date: 30 Jan 2015
  • Closing date: 17 Mar 2015 16:00 GMT
  • Type: Grants, MRC strategic

Innovation Grants – call 2 

Focus of the call

This call is being funded by MRC and BBSRC and addresses human or animal bacterial pathogens. The focus of the call is to drive forward highly innovative research with transformational potential to address the broad challenges presented in AMR initiative - theme 1 in order to:
  • Understand the resistant bacterium at molecular, cell and community levels
  • Understand the context of host/pathogen interactions in humans or animals
  • Identify and validate novel targets (both host and bacterial) for new anti-bacterials
  • Understand transmission of resistance in human or animal hosts
We welcome multidisciplinary proposals which encompass academia, biopharma, diagnostic companies, veterinary and the health service. We seek proposals that take a highly innovative and creative approach with potential to transform our knowledge/understanding of the field in a way that will enhance our ability to address the multiple challenges of AMR. The MRC accepts the risk associated with funding such innovative research. 
For this round of applications we particularly welcome applications studying zoonotic and animal only bacterial pathogens. Applications can address AMR at any point in the food chain.
Young investigators are particularly encouraged to apply and would be urged to seek mentorship writing their proposal.

Strategic objectives

The objectives of the call are to:
  • Provide a better understanding of resistance mechanisms 
  • Identify new targets for potential therapies based on a fuller understanding of the chemical biology of bacteria 
  • Provide the basis for new diagnostics 
  • Establish new ways of predicting and influencing the evolution of resistance
  • Set foundations for world-class translational bacteriology

Call information

This call will aim to support innovative, untested, high risk/high-reward research that will provide new insights, will be potentially transformative and stimulate creative thinking across disciplines. Studies supported by this award are expected to lay the groundwork for future avenues of scientific investigation. The proposed research project should include a well-formulated, testable hypothesis based on a sound scientific rationale and study design. No preliminary data is required but may be included if available.
The proposed research project should be novel, innovative and exploratory. Innovative research may introduce a new paradigm, challenge existing paradigms, look at existing problems from new perspectives, or exhibit other highly creative qualities. 
Research is expected to be high risk high reward that will lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or result in novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models or applications that will impact AMR research.
This award should be able to generate robust preliminary data that can be used as a foundation for future research projects to understand the mechanisms of AMR. Innovation grants are not intended to support a logical progression of an already established research project or other types of ongoing work; therefore, the nature of this award would be more exploratory.

Available Funds

  • Up to £250k (80% fec) will be made available
  • Projects would be expected to run for 12-24 months 


Standard RCUK eligibility criteria will apply with respect to individual applicants and the call is open to any UK-based researchers who can demonstrate that they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in carrying it through. Please see the guidance for applicants for further details.
An eligible individual may submit a maximum of one Innovation grant as a PI.  Researchers who were unsuccessful at the first Innovation grant call can re-apply taking into account the feedback received and the new guidelines of the call.
All investigators and their institutions will need to be registered on the J-eS system. If not registered, you will need to contact the Je-S helpdesk (+44(0) 1793 444164) for assistance. The registration of your institution may take some time therefore you are advised to begin this process well in advance of submitting your proposal.
Eligible institutions include UK higher education institutions, Research Council institutes, and eligible Independent Research Organisations (IROs). All IROs listed on the RCUK web page are eligible to apply.

International Researchers are eligible to apply as co-applicants, providing their inclusion in the project is justified. Costs associated with international co-applicants and any locally employed staff are eligible for 100% fec (exceptions). Please see the guidance for applicants for further guidance. To note, all funds are awarded to the lead Research Organisation, which is then responsible for the distribution of funds to any collaborating research organisation.

How to apply

MRC is administering and managing the call on behalf of the research councils in particular the BBSRC. Awards funded under the AMR initiative will follow standard MRC terms and conditions
You must submit your application using the UK Research Councils’ Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) System. Guidance on setting up a Je-S account and on filling out the Je-S forms is also available.
Please note that clicking ‘submit document’ on your proposal form in Je-S initially submits the proposal to your host organisation’s administration, not to MRC. Please ensure you allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the call closing date, to ensure that your application reaches us by this date. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. 
Innovation grants will be submitted as full proposals with no outline stage.
When you create your proposal in Je-S you will need to enter the following options to ensure that your proposal is considered under the correct funding scheme:

Select Council: MRC
Select Document Type: Standard proposal
Select Scheme: Research Grant
Select Call/Type/Mode: AMR Theme 1 Projects March 2015
Please complete all sections of the Je-S application. General guidance can be found in the guidance for applicants, which will guide you through the standard processes for preparing a proposal, page limit for standard attachments, costing your proposals and any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research. Please refer to the following additional guidance which documents how to prepare your case for support.

Applicants should also refer to the guidance for applicants for general information about the MRC application process. 

Evaluation criteria

Applications will be evaluated against the following criteria: 
  • Fit to the call remit. The application must address the focus and objectives defined by the call and demonstrate a level of innovation and originality.
  • Academic merit of the proposal – quality and novelty of the proposed research. 
  • Relevance – importance of the research question to the field. Will the research potentially make a significant impact to advancing knowledge in the area above and beyond what is currently being funded?  
  • Robustness and appropriateness of the study designs and methods. 
  • Does the team have the necessary range of expertise and experience to carry out the proposed study? 
  • Suitability of the research environment. Are all the necessary requirements to carry out the study in place or available?
  • Ethical and governance considerations. Have issues been adequately identified and addressed?
Innovation grants will be assessed and scored using the standard 1-10 scoring system used by Board and Panels (see Reviewers handbook)

Assessment process

Proposals will be reviewed by an expert  panel  in June 2015. Proposals will be assessed and scored using the standard 1-10 scoring system used by Board and Panels (see Reviewers handbook) and a funding recommendation made to the AMR Steering Committee. The application assessment will not draw on external referee comments and hence no response to such comments by principal investigators will be required.
Please note that the decisions of the Panel and Steering Group will not be open to appeal and that the MRC reserves the right to amend the application process.

Key dates

The key dates are listed below:
AMR Theme 1 Innovation grants call 2
Task Date
Launch call 30 January 2015
Application deadline 17 March 2015
Expert Panel & Steering Group to make funding decision June 2015


All enquiries should be directed in the first instance to the Medical Research Council:
Contact: Ghada Zoubiane
Email: AMR@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk
BBSRC also have a contact for this call if applicants would like to raise specific queries which they feel would be better addressed by BBSRC.
Contact: Sian Rowland
Email: AMR@bbsrc.ac.uk