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Confidence in Global Nutrition and Health Research: Institutional "pump-priming" awards to develop new opportunities in Global Nutrition and Health Research

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

  • Status: Closed
  • Open date: 4 Jul 2017
  • Closing date: 14 Sep 2017 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Grants, MRC strategic


Please note: updated frequently asked questions are now available.

Aims and remit

The “Confidence in” schemes are used to demonstrate MRC’s support for institutional development in key strategic areas.  We are pleased to announce our “Confidence in Global Nutrition and Health Research” call as part of our suite of activities under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The research supported through this call will contribute to the UK’s commitment to research for the benefit of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs; as listed here). 

The purpose of this call is to provide institutional “pump-priming” funds to lay the grounds for future large scale, multidisciplinary, cross-country global nutrition and health research bids addressing issues of primary relevance to LMICs. It is expected that these funds will help develop new strategies in global nutrition and health research, within and across institutions and in partnership with LMICs.

These are flexible institutional awards. Funds can be used to undertake research projects to generate preliminary data and to build, expand or consolidate UK-LMIC partnerships. These funds provide an opportunity to define research questions; assess the viability of proposed approaches relevant to the local socioeconomic and cultural context; and assess the feasibility of establishing sustainable UK-LMIC partnerships. It is expected that “Confidence in Global Nutrition and Health Research” awardees will use preliminary data or established partnerships to inform more substantive research opportunities, through the MRC Boards and Panels as well as via future GCRF calls.

As part of this call we held a one-day workshop and information event which took place on the 9th June 2017 in London. A report of the workshop can be found here

Proposals must focus on issues primarily relevant to LMICs and aim to achieve one or more of the following goals:

  • Develop new research strategies to tackle nutrition and health challenges that are relevant to LMICs in the short, medium and long-term;
  • Develop new UK-LMIC research partnerships or capitalise on existing ones;
  • Identify opportunities and assess feasibility of large-scale global nutrition and health research  projects in partnership with  LMICs;
  • Extend scope of existing research to LMIC settings;
  • Apply novel / potentially high-risk approaches to nutrition research,  with opportunities for multidisciplinary approaches;
  • Produce preliminary data and develop concepts  for future grant applications;
  • Create pathways to impact in LMICs.

Scope of the funding call

The research supported through this call will contribute to the UK’s commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA) to LMICs. A list of eligible countries can be found here. Applications must demonstrate the research to be primarily relevant to near-term or long-term benefits to the health or prosperity of LMICs. Applicants must provide evidence as to why the research is relevant, to ensure that the proposed plan is informed by the needs of affected populations. Further guidance on ODA and demonstrating ODA compliance in applications for funding is available via the RCUK GCRF webpages, in particular ODA guidance.

Subject areas may comprise, but are not limited to:

  • Mechanistic understanding:
  • Interplay  between nutrition and: co-morbidities; infections; inflammation;  gut  health and function; gut microbiome; NCDs; cognition and mental health;  lifestyle and physical activity;
  • Nutritional adequacy in health and disease;
  • Molecular basis for individual and population responses to nutrition.
  • Nutrition through  the life course:
  • First 1000+ days: pre-conception, pregnancy, infancy and early childhood;  reversibility and mitigation of  childhood malnutrition effects;
  • Adolescence;
  • Ageing.
  • Understanding of nutrition and dietary patterns:
  • Food  production and supply chain  and linkages to human health (production of  nutritious healthy food; sustainable  agriculture and farming in harmony with ecosystems;  environmental effects through agriculture;  food hygiene; effects  of marketing, food policy and food tax on diet);
  • Cultural and socio-economic context  (e.g. family and intergenerational dynamics; education and literacy);
  • Effects of  conflicts, migration, natural disasters;
  • Mental health status effects on nutrition;
  • Double burden of over and under nutrition.
  • Nutritional Interventions:
  • Informed by mechanistic evidence and  context-specific factors;
  • Use of  interventions to improve mechanistic understanding;
  • Monitoring and assessment of outcomes of ongoing interventions.
  • Methodologies: 
  • Improvement and standardization of methodologies to enable robust measurement (e.g. food intake, food composition);
  • Affordable methods to monitor nutrition;
  • Biological markers of food nutritional value and surrogate markers to measure health outcomes;
  • More efficient use of existing data and resources (samples, cohorts).


Institutions may apply for an award up to £200,000 MRC funding for the duration of up to 12 months. Projects are required to start as soon as possible after the funding decision and no later than 1st March 2018. Requested costs for UK activities should be 80% full economic cost. Allowable costs for LMICs are 100% of eligible costs. Please see “MRC guidance for applicants” sections 3.1 and 3.3

The funding can be used to support: 

  • Networking meetings and other events to develop strategy and partnerships for future activities;
  • Small pump-priming projects to generate preliminary data for future applications;     
  • Salary costs for existing research staff, where these can be shown to be making a clear and important contribution to the development of proposed activities. No new staff should be appointed under these funds; 
  • Travel and accommodation expenses. 

The funding is not intended to support: 

  • Continuation of normal research grants; 
  • PhD studentships or fellowships.


The main applicant must be a UK research organization (including MRC Units and Institutes) and all funding is to be managed through that organization. It is expected that applications will be led by one or more senior members of the institution. 

UK research organizations can only lead on one application, but individual researchers from any given institution may be named co-applicants on other proposals. 

LMIC-based researchers are invited to apply as co-applicants. LMIC-based researchers may be affiliated with higher education institutions, non-profit research institutions or non-governmental organizations. We encourage LMIC-based researchers to make contacts with researchers based at UK research institutions, and vice versa, to discuss opportunities for partnerships in global nutrition and health research.

Industrial collaborators are welcomed. The role and contribution of industrial collaborators must be clearly explained, with special emphasis on the benefit to LMICs. 

Application Guidelines

Application details and guidelines for the case for support can be found here

Applications must be submitted via Je-S by 4pm on the 14th September 2017.

Assessment Process

Applications will be assessed by a bespoke panel which will both review the applications and make funding decisions. The panel meeting will take place in November 2017. Assessment criteria can be found here.


If you have any queries please contact: nutritionandglobalhealth@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

Key dates

Funding applications open

4th July 2017

Funding applications close

14th September 2017

Panel meeting and funding decision

November 2017

Awards  start date

As soon as possible after funding decision and no later than 1st March 2018

Answers to frequently asked questions about these awards are published here and will be regularly updated