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China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs 2018

  • Time remaining: 1m 2w 6d 7h 59m
  • Status: Open
  • Open date: 28 Mar 2018
  • Closing date: 14 Jun 2018 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Grants, MRC strategic

 

Please note NSFC will be launching the Call on their website the week commencing 9 April 2018

Contents

The UK Cross Research Council AMR Initiative and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are pleased to invite proposals to the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs under the umbrella of the Newton Fund.

This initiative will provide funding for high quality collaborative research partnerships focused on addressing the growing global burden of antimicrobial resistance, specifically antibacterial resistance in China.

In total, up to £8m will be made available for this initiative on the UK side with up to 9 million RMB per Partnership Hub from NSFC.

The MRC are leading the UK side of this collaboration on behalf of all the UK Research Councils (Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) utilising Newton funding.

Background

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), especially resistance to antibiotics, is a growing problem that does not respect national borders. We are facing a rise in the number of bacteria becoming resistant to existing antibiotics without an increase in new antibiotics or, alternative treatments. The upsurge in resistance is driven by a complex interplay of biomedical, animal, social, cultural and environmental factors. It is clear that an international and interdisciplinary approach is needed to tackle these challenges and make a step change in addressing AMR.

In December 2015, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as part of the UK Cross Research Council AMR Initiative, and the NSFC launched the China-UK AMR Partnership Initiative. In 2016, this initiative supported six new research partnerships looking at ways of tackling the rise of antibacterial resistance.

These Chinese-UK partnerships brought together leading researchers from both countries, and from multiple research disciplines, to better understand the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria, develop new interventions, and improve health and agricultural systems.

Building on the success of this initiative, in November 2017, the call sponsors held the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs workshop in Shanghai, China, to provide partnering opportunities and scope this present initiative. The workshop brought together Chinese and UK-based researchers to explore field needs, national strengths and areas of potential complementarity. A summary of workshop proceedings, including a list of attendees, can be found in the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs Workshop Report.

The current initiative is being run alongside a second, parallel call on China-UK AMR Innovation, led in the UK by Innovate UK and the Department of Health, in collaboration with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

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Aim

This initiative will provide funding for collaborative Partnership Hubs focussed on addressing the challenge of antibacterial resistance (AMR) with the aim of:

  • Enhancing existing partnerships and developing new partnerships between the UK and China in the area of AMR and in particular antibacterial resistance (ABR).
  • Supporting large-scale, interdisciplinary collaborative research.
  • Supporting the mobility and exchange of UK and Chinese researchers to enhance links between researchers in both countries.
  • Strengthening the strategic relationship between the UK and China.

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Objectives

The objective is to deliver significant research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborative partnerships between researchers from China and the UK to enable the pursuit of shared research interests.

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Remit

AMR, especially resistance to antibiotics, is a growing global problem. We are facing a rise in the number of bacteria becoming resistant to existing antibiotics without an increase in new antibiotics or new treatments. It is clear that an interdisciplinary approach is needed to tackle these challenges and make a step change in addressing antimicrobial resistance.  This call has been launched under the Newton Fund and as such all Partnership Hubs should be collaborative in nature and be focussed on addressing the challenge of antibacterial resistance. Successful applications must demonstrate how they address the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Through this initiative, the funders are seeking to support interdisciplinary Partnership Hubs. As the challenge of ABR arises from a complex interplay between social, economic, cultural, ecological, historical, environmental, technical and biological factors, the funders are encouraging proposals that span these domains. Bids should seek to engage an appropriate range of disciplines and consider the specific social, economic and cultural context of China.

Partnership Hubs that incorporate a systems approach to identifying the primary drivers of resistance in the Chinese context are particularly encouraged. Proposals can include studies of animal and environmental reservoirs of ABR, where these have the potential to spill-over into human populations.

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Scope

In order to address the breadth of the ABR challenge, build on the existing China-UK collaborations, and complement the parallel China-UK AMR Innovation call, the following topics are in scope for this call:

  1. Drivers of ABR – eg, understanding the range of drivers and selective pressures of resistance in the Chinese context, to identify where upstream mitigating action to modify the drivers can prevent or reduce the burden or prevalence of ABR.
  2. Pathways for human and livestock exposure – eg, understanding and predictive modelling of acquisition, evolution, persistence and transmission of ABR between environment, animals and humans, and within and between communities and hospitals, to identify effective strategies for diagnosis and infection/disease prevention.
  3. Impacts of ABR – eg, quantifying the burden (environmental, animal and human), social, and economic costs of ABR, to identify the risks, costs and benefits of local interventions.
  4. Responses – eg, drug discovery and alternative treatments/interventions, where a broad interdisciplinary approach is taken.

The scope of this call does not include:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral, fungal or parasitic resistance - the current focus of this call is on resistant bacteria of humans and animals but we acknowledge antimicrobial issues in other classes of pathogens are important
  • Resistance in pathogens of relevance to crop health
  • Proposals focused solely on developing or evaluating new targets, therapeutics, diagnostics or interventions to control or treat infections.

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Partnership Hubs

A Partnership Hub is not a physical entity, but rather an agreed collaboration, and a way of working together. The successful Partnership Hubs will be jointly funded by the Newton Fund and NSFC. Each Partnership Hub will develop one node in the UK and one node in China. Each node may comprise a consortium of researchers/research groups, from multiple research disciplines, from one research organisation or more than one organisation. Each Partnership Hub may choose to include separate, but integrated, work packages across the Partnership Hub.

Each Partnership Hub must include a core research programme supported by a range of collaborative activities. Where applicable, project partners should align existing resources and infrastructure to augment the research programme.

The types, and combinations, of activities which can be supported are flexible. The Partnership Hub activities are not prescribed and a programme of activities must be developed and justified by the applicants.

The following activities are a requirement for the call:

  • Joint research projects, together constituting a research programme, between researchers at the partner institutions
  • Resourcing for programme management (associated staff costs must come from the UK budget, all other costs should be sought from the UK or Chinese budget as appropriate)
  • Joint impact and knowledge exchange

Examples of additional activities which could be supported include:

  • Research staff exchanges, including short and longer term visits, exchange of PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and visiting fellows
  • Enabling the sharing of key resources (for example datasets, training guides, protocols for data collection and management) across the partner institutions
  • Supporting wider activities to strengthen links, for example holding symposia, workshops, seminars, meetings etc.
  • Outreach activities, which may include engaging stakeholders, the public, decision makers, policy makers, industry etc.
  • Open access of data and outputs

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Eligibility

This call will fund Partnership Hubs between UK- and China-based researchers working in the area of ABR. It is important to note that:

  • This is an open call; applicants do not need to have attended the China-UK AMR workshop or previously held a China-UK AMR partnership grant in order to apply.
  • The funding agencies will not play a further brokering role in this call.

For support under this call, applicants must be eligible to apply for funding from their respective country’s funding agency:

  • For the UK, applicants must be from an RO eligible for funding from any of the Research Councils, as described on the MRC website. At the time awards are made, the Research Councils will fall under UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
  • This call is a ‘managed mode’ call being run by the MRC on behalf of the seven UK Research Councils: the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), as part of the UK Cross Research Council AMR Initiative.
  • Chinese applicants must be eligible for funding from NSFC and should use the appropriate project code when submitting applications.

All proposals for this call must meet Newton Fund requirements. In particular, proposals must be compliant with Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding rules. For further information see the factsheet "What is ODA?"

Principal Investigators may only submit one application to this scheme as Principal Investigator, but may be involved in more applications if listed as a Co-Investigator.

Applicants with queries regarding eligibility should contact: international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

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Funding available

In total, up to £8m will be made available on the UK side. The UK contribution will be made available to the UK collaborators to fund the UK component of the Partnership Hub. UK based applicants may request £1m - £2m at 80% FEC to cover the UK component of the research projects.

The UK funding agencies will provide funding under standard arrangements and at 80% fEC.

The NSFC’s contribution will be made available to fund the Chinese collaborators. NSFC will make 10 million RMB available to fund the Chinese component of each research project.

The size of the grants will vary according to the needs of each Partnership Hub. Applicants do not need to request equal amounts from both sides. The difference in values should reflect the difference in costs covered and local prices. The agencies also expect the costs on each side to accurately reflect the research effort to be carried out. It is expected, however, that the research effort and intellectual input on both sides should be comparable.

The UK element of funding will not cover capital items.

For further information, please read the scheme specific Guidance for Applicants to the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs.

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Duration

Projects must start on or before 1 January 2019 in the UK and on the 1 January 2019 in China. Projects must be three years in length in the UK and four years in China and so must have completed by the end of December 2021 (UK) / December 2022 (China).

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Expression of interest

Applicants who wish to apply should submit an expression of interest by 30 April 2018. The expression of interest form must be e-mailed to the following address: international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

The PI at the expression of interest stage must remain the same for the full proposal. Co-Is may change as the proposal develops.

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How to apply

Please note the expression of interest stage detailed above.

UK and Chinese applicants must apply separately to their respective funding agencies by 14 June 2018 for the funding component requested within each country, but this must be based around a common research plan and vision. Both partners must therefore submit an identical joint Case for Support written in English. Failure to submit a valid application to both sponsors will invalidate both submissions.

The MRC is leading this initiative on the UK side on behalf of all the UK funders and as such all UK applicants must submit to the MRC via JeS. JeS submissions must be received by 4pm BST on the day of the deadline.

Applications from the UK Principal Investigator should be submitted to the UK Research Councils’ Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) System. UK applicants must complete all sections required for a standard Research Council Grant proposal. Please include a two page CV plus a one page list of publications for each of the named investigators (based in China and the UK).

Please also fill in and submit the China-UK Joint Funding Summary form. UK applicants should upload this under the attachment type ‘Letter of Support’.

Justification of Resources, Pathways to Impact and Data Management Plan documents must also be attached to the Je-S application.

For further information, please read the scheme specific Guidance for Applicants to the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs.

Further guidance can be found in the MRC Guidance for Applicants.

Chinese Principal Investigators must submit an identical case for support written in English to the National Natural Science Foundation of China website as part of the online submission to NSFC.

Chinese Principal Investigators should use the correct NSFC project code when submitting their applications.

Please remember, all ethical sections must be completed for any relevant activities, whether they take place in China or the UK.

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Key dates

Closing Date for investigators to indicate their intention to submit a proposal 30 April 2018
Deadline for investigators to submit proposal 14 June 2018
External Peer Review 2 July - 14 September 2018
PI response to peer reviews 17 September - 24 September
Panel Meeting w/c 15 October 2018

 

Grant start dates

Due to funding restrictions of the Newton Fund, grants must start by 1 January 2019. The funding agencies will not afford any leeway on this. Projects funded through this initiative must be three years in length on the UK side and four years in China and must have completed by the end of December 2021 (UK) / December 2022 (China).

Please refer to the MRC Guidance for Applicants for information on what the starting procedure entails; please inform the relevant support staff in your organisation of this requirement to ensure the project starts on time.

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The Newton Fund

The Newton Fund builds scientific and innovation partnerships with 18 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK Delivery Partners, which include the Research Councils, the UK National Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.

For further information visit the Newton Fund homepage and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund

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