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Centres of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (CoEN) 2019 call: Pathfinder 4

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


The Network of Centres of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (CoEN) is an international initiative involving research funders in Canada, France, Flanders, Germany, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Slovak Republic, Spain and the UK.  

The overall aim of the initiative is to build collaborative research activity in neurodegeneration research across borders, focusing on adding value to the expertise and critical mass already established within national centres of excellence (CoE), in order to accelerate progress in understanding the mechanisms of disease as well as the identification of new therapeutic approaches. 

The 2019 call for Pathfinder projects is being launched by six of the nine CoEN members: 

•    ANR (France)
•    CIHR (Canada)
•    DZNE (Germany)
•    ISCIII (Spain)
•    MDS (Italy)
•    MRC (UK).


This Pathfinder call sets out to encourage the community to think “outside the box”, to stimulate new and unconventional approaches and creative solutions to the challenges of neurodegeneration research by undertaking high-risk/high-payoff research

To maximise the potential for innovation, the scientific remit for Pathfinder awards is broad in scope from basic to clinical to health services and policies as well as to social aspects of neurodegenerative diseases. Projects may include studies to illuminate our understanding of neurodegenerative mechanisms or create technological advances to support novel diagnostic or therapeutic approaches. Projects using existing dataset to test innovative hypothesis are also welcome. Connectivity with research in related areas, such as inflammation and sensory neuroscience, or vascular and mental health is encouraged, as is outreach to experts in the fields of physical and computational science or industrial partners within the consortium or foreseen follow up collaborations.

Within the remit of this call, neurodegeneration applies to: Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease (PD) and PD-related disorders, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone diseases, prion disease, spinocerebellar ataxia and spinal muscular atrophy.  

The type of neurodegenerative disease research to be supported include: cutting edge basic, translational and/or clinical studies; novel reductionist systems; innovative disease models; systems biology/medicine; proof of concept for new therapeutic approaches; and supportive technological development.


It is expected that projects will combine the research strengths across CoEs in at least two partner countries to provide a true value-added collaborative effort that will advance our approach to neurodegeneration research. Projects will address issues which would not readily be funded through the standard grant mechanisms of the CoEN partners, and it is expected that in addition to collaboration across CoEs, projects may also serve to provide a platform for future collaboration with industry.

The total funding available for this call is approximately £3.6 million (from six participating countries). CoEN awards made through this call will be funded through national agencies supporting the relevant components of collaborative projects. For UK-based activity, this funding will be provided by the MRC through the Neurosciences and Mental Health Board which has £1 million available to support successful UK groups. 

The call and associated peer review will be administered by the MRC. The closing date for submissions is Monday 4 November 2019 at 16:00 (GMT). Applications will be assessed by an international scientific review panel in January 2020 and funding decisions will be communicated in March 2020.


Please address any enquiries to:

Charlie Allen, Science Manager for Lifelong Mental Health and Dementias

Clara Fons, Programme Manager for Neurodegeneration, Neurological Disorders and Sensory Science

Email: coen@mrc.ukri.org

Further information on the call, eligibility criteria and details of how to apply can be found on the CoEN website.