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GCRF Global Multimorbidity – Seed-funding 2019

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

  • Status: Closed
  • Open date: 31 Jul 2019
  • Closing date: 9 Oct 2019 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Grants, MRC strategic
Applicants are encouraged to submit an expression of interest prior to 10 September 2019 by completing the online form. However, if an expression of interest is not submitted, your application will still be accepted.

Funder statement

Multimorbidity is recognized as a significant and rapidly increasing health, economic and societal problem in low- middle- and high-income settings. A collective and coordinated effort is required to deliver a step-change in the prevention, measurement, management and treatment of multimorbidity through research.
As part of a framework of activities the Academy of Medical Science (AMS), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Medical Research Council (MRC, part of UK Research and Innovations) and Wellcome, together with other charities, seek to enable impactful research, build best practice, and provide the evidence needed to tackle the scale of this problem.
This current GCRF global multimorbidity seed-funding call, launched and funded by the MRC, has been developed under this joint multimorbidity funders framework.


The GCRF global multimorbidity seed-funding call is an MRC initiative that has been developed in collaboration with Wellcome, NIHR, and AMS. The call will support seed-funding projects that develop and test innovative ideas, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, build capacity, and lay the groundwork for future large-scale activity aimed at understanding and tackling multimorbidity in LMICs.

Applications are particularly encouraged from Principal Investigators (PIs) based at organisations in LMICs, as well as from eligible research organisations based in the UK working in equitable partnership with LMIC colleagues.

It is expected that a total of £2.5 million will be made available to support research grants up to 18 months in duration and up to a maximum of £200,000.

The research supported through this GCRF call will contribute to the UK’s commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA) to LMICs. Applications must demonstrate the research to be primarily relevant and directly linked to near-term benefits to the health and/or economic development of LMICs.


In 2018, AMS published a report titled: Multimorbidity: a priority for global health research. The report recommended the adoption of a uniform definition of multimorbidity, discussed the impact of co-occurring chronic conditions in LMICs, and set out research priorities for countering the growing burden of multimorbidity. These research priorities – ranging from mechanism to health systems – were as follows:

  1. What are the trends and patterns in multimorbidity?
  2. Which multimorbidity clusters are most common and which cause the greatest burden?
  3. What are the determinants of the most common clusters of conditions?
  4. What strategies are best able to facilitate the simultaneous or stepwise prevention of chronic conditions that contribute to the most common multimorbidity clusters?
  5. What strategies are best able to maximise the benefits and limit the risks of treatment among patients with multimorbidity?
  6. How can healthcare systems be better organised to maximise the benefits and limit the risks for patients with multimorbidity?

Following the publication of this report, AMS, MRC, NIHR and Wellcome held a workshop to highlight obstacles precluding research into the epidemiology, impact, and causes of multimorbidity in both HIC and LMIC settings. A summary of this workshop, as well as information on the latest funding opportunities, resources, and news and events, can be found on the dedicated multimorbidity web pages recently launched by AMS.  

This call represents the second funding activity to stem from the AMS report and the joint-funder workshop, following the MRC-NIHR pump-priming call to understand disease clustering in the UK. It also builds on previous investments in global multimorbidity funded via researcher-led applications to MRC Boards (multimorbidity is currently a PSMB Board Opportunity) and joint funding streams (e.g., MRC-Wellcome-DFID-NIHR Joint Global Health Trials scheme, MRC-Wellcome-DFID-ESRC Health Systems Research Initiative, and the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases).

This funding call will support projects that lay the foundations needed to address the research priorities listed above. These foundations may require the formation of new equitable partnerships, the collection of preliminary data, the analysis of existing data, or the development of novel tools and methodologieshis.

Remit and scope

This call will support seed-funding projects in global multimorbidity. Briefly, subject areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Preliminary data collection and methodological development to understand behavioural, environmental, sociodemographic, and biological factors associated with common clusters/clusters of highest burden and determinants of discordant co-occurring conditions.
  • Audit and analysis of existing data to either: i) bring together the fragmented evidence base caused by variations in definition and classification of multimorbidity, ii) utilise existing cohort/surveillance data to identify trends and modifiable risk factors, iii) examine healthcare costs associated with different clusters of conditions and models of care, or iv) assess the impact of existing primary prevention strategies on multimorbidity.
  • Feasibility (including acceptability) and pilot work towards the development of primary (e.g., lifestyle interventions), secondary (e.g., preventing multimorbidity once one condition has been diagnosed, polypharmacy effects), and tertiary (e.g., integrated management, mHealth) prevention strategies across all age groups.
  • Establishing foundations for studies focused on understanding trends in multimorbidity. Seed-funding would also enable the follow up of previous studies to enable longitudinal or repeated cross-sectional analysis.
  • Development of sensitive measures to determine the impact on quality of life for patients and carers of living with multimorbidity.
  • Capacity building, networking, and connection of existing resources within LMICs to allow interdisciplinary investigation of multimorbidity.

This call adopts the definition of multimorbidity recommended in the AMS report:

The co-existence of two or more chronic conditions, each one of which is either:

  • A physical non-communicable disease of long duration, such as a cardiovascular disease or cancer.
  • A mental health condition of long duration, such as a mood disorder or dementia.
  • An infectious disease of long duration, such as HIV, MDR TB, or hepatitis C.

Applications directly from PIs at LMIC Research Organisations, including those based on South-South collaborations, are encouraged (i.e. without the involvement of a UK Co-I). Where the application is led by a UK PI, it should include effective, sustainable and equitable partnerships with researchers based in the LMIC location(s) where the research will take place, with strong governance and management processes in place. All applications should demonstrate scientific leadership and intellectual contribution from LMIC investigators with a clear plan for sustaining partnerships beyond the duration of the award.

MRC is committed to building research capacity within LMICs and the UK. Applicants are encouraged to include capacity building activities within their proposals where possible. Examples of capacity building include: increasing capability of staff to work across disciplines and in partnerships; support and mentoring for more junior team members; building leadership skills amongst early career researchers; mentorship opportunities; co-design of research; purchase of relevant equipment (<£10,000); opportunities for those with relevant skills to orient their research towards global issues; formation of LMIC research networks.


The MRC has made £2.5 million available for seed-funding in global multimorbidity through this call.

PIs may apply for seed-funding up to 18 months in duration. Applications should not exceed £200,000 and in some cases may be substantially less. All projects are required to start as soon as possible after being awarded. 

Grants are intended to support:

  • LMIC and/or UK research consumable costs
  • Salary costs for LMIC and/or UK-based researchers
  • Small-scale equipment (<£10,000)
  • Partnership and networking activities
  • Research training and capacity building activities
  • Travel and subsistence

Research grants are not intended to support:

  • Continuation of existing research grants. (i.e. additional resource for research activity that has already been supported elsewhere; this does not preclude the secondary analysis of existing data for a different purpose).
  • Studentships (e.g. costs associated with masters or PhD programmes)

Requested costs for UK activities should be 80% full economic costs. Costs for work undertaken at overseas research organisations are permitted and should be 100% of eligible costs. Please see call-specific Guidance for Applicants for more information on eligible costs. If applicable, the UK lead research organisation must consider the financial controls and risk mitigations that will be put in place for the transfer of funding to overseas organisations. If the application is directly from an LMIC organisation, due diligence will be completed by MRC prior to any award.


The research must be primarily aimed at tackling multimorbidity in LMICs. UK or HIC-focused applications are not eligible for this call and will be rejected prior to review.

The PI is the lead researcher on the application with overall responsibility for the intellectual leadership of the project and for the overall management of the research. The grant will be administered by the PI’s Research Organisation. Co-Is assist the PI in the management and leadership of the research and may provide specialist expertise in a particular facet of the research.

PI’s should be based at an eligible LMIC or UK Research Organisation (see call-specific Guidance for Applicants for more details on eligible research organisations). If the PI is based in the UK, there must be clear partnership with, and scientific leadership from, Co-Is based in the LMIC(s) where the project will take place. Co-Is from high income countries other than the UK can be included, provided the individual is providing expertise that cannot be found in the UK or an LMIC (see section 3.1 of the call-specific Guidance for Applicants for information on LMIC/HIC cost eligibility).

Partnerships may build on existing relationships or represent the development of a new collaborative relationship. The principal requirement is for meaningful, quality collaborations or partnerships, demonstrated through clear leadership roles across the proposed partnership, and balance and proportionality in partners’ roles and responsibilities.

Research into multimorbidity and health systems/health services should be rooted in the context where it will take place with strong engagement with policy makers to maximise potential uptake of the research findings.

Applications involving industrial collaborators are eligible and should follow the MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) process. Industrial collaborators cannot be recipients of funding and must be listed as Project Partners or sub-contractors. The role of industrial partners must be clearly explained, with special emphasis on the benefit to LMICs.

Official Development Assistance

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in 2015 to support research addressing the challenges faced by LMICs. MRC is a GCRF delivery partner and their funding for this call is from their GCRF allocation.

The GCRF forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment. Applications must demonstrate the research to be primarily relevant and directly linked to near-term or long-term benefits to the health and economic development of LMICs. Applications should articulate a clear and specific case for the relevance of the proposed research to the LMIC and identify and provide evidence that the proposed plan of research is informed by the needs of the LMIC. Further guidance on ODA and demonstrating ODA compliance in applications for funding is available via the ODA guidance document on the UKRI GCRF website.

Key dates

Activity Date
Deadline for expression of interest (optional) 10 September 2019
Deadline for seed-funding applications 9 October 2019
Panel meeting and funding decisions February 2020

How to apply

Applicants are encouraged to submit an expression of interest prior to 10 September 2019 by completing the online form. However, if an expression of interest is not submitted, your application will still be accepted. The deadline for full seed-funding applications is 9 October 2019. 

Guidance for applicants documents for the global multimorbility call will be available via the Related Content links once the call is open on UKRI’s Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S). In addition, applicants should consult the MRC Guidance for Applicants and the Je-S handbook for general information on how to complete the application.

After submitting their expression of interest, applicants should no wait for a response from MRC and should continue to submit their research proposal via Je-S featuring a maximum six-page Case for Support and full breakdown of costs. Applicants are welcome to contact the office (international@mrc.ukri.org) in advance of submitting an application to discuss remit or eligibility.

Proposals will be assessed by an external review panel convened by MRC. This panel will recommend the final funding decisions. Decisions are not subject to appeal. Proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria, more details of which can be found in the call-specific Guidance for Applicants:

  • Importance of the question/likely impact of the study
  • Study design and feasibility
  • Relevant capability and interdisciplinarity of the research team
  • Capacity building and equitable partnerships
  • Justification of resources and appropriate financial management and risk assurance
  • Clear and effective pathways to impact
  • Compliance with ODA eligibility requirements


Queries about this funding scheme and application process, including eligibility for the call, should be directed to international@mrc.ukri.org.