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MRC Applied Global Health Research Board

  • Time remaining: 2w 4d 4h 22m
  • Status: Open
  • Open date: 1 Jul 2020
  • Closing date: 13 Oct 2020 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Grants, Researcher-led

Opportunity Summary

The Applied Global Health Research Board invites applications from investigators based in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) and from investigators based in the UK, please see full eligibility information below.

Research must have a direct and primary benefit to the health of vulnerable populations living in LMICs. LMIC PIs must be based at a higher education institution, non-profit research institution, with sufficient research capacity to manage and deliver research. LMIC Co-Investigators (Co-I’s) can be based at the aforementioned organisations or at an implementing partner organisation.

The Applied Global Health Research Board is a standing opportunity with deadlines every 6 months.

We recommend that all applicants read The Applied Global Health Research Board ‘our science and contacts’ page and the supplementary guidance for applicants for tailored information specific to this Board before submitting an application.

Proposals focusing on Covid-19 health research should be submitted through the collaborative Global Effort on Covid-19 (GECO) Health Research Call which is being run in partnership with the UK Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research, current call details are available here


The Applied Global Health Research Board supports research that will be of direct and primary benefit to the health of vulnerable populations living in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Applied research is defined as research seeking practical solutions to health challenges from late stage intervention development onwards. This includes implementation research, scale-up activities, health services research, health economics, health policy research, and research with a predominantly applied focus that does not fit within the remit of other MRC Boards and Panels.

The Board also welcomes cross-sector research combining expertise to meet a global health challenge (e.g., urban planning, health policy, and non-communicable disease research within a single proposal). The research question might necessitate the involvement of different disciplines and approaches from outside of the health sector, but the primary objective must be health focused.

Examples of areas in which applied research may be conducted include, but are not limited to, the following health topics and focus areas:

  • Maternal and neonatal health;
  • Child health and early childhood development;
  • Adolescent health;
  • Healthy ageing;
  • Sexual and reproductive health;
  • Infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases;
  • Non-communicable diseases, including mental health;
  • Multimorbidity;
  • Nutrition and food security;
  • Snakebite;
  • Intentional and unintentional injury;
  • Urban health, including indoor/outdoor air pollution, road traffic accidents, and healthy housing;
  • Planetary health;
  • Informal settlements, conflict zones, and displaced populations;
  • Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention;
  • Detection and diagnostics;
  • mHealth;
  • Treatment, including surgery;
  • Pain management and palliative care.

The following areas are outside of the Board’s funding remit:

We recommend that you contact the office prior to applying to determine fit to remit. Please forward a one-page summary of the aims and research plans/methodology of your project to International@mrc.ukri.org where a member of the team will be able to assess whether your application will be suitable for the board.

Funding available

The resources requested should be commensurate with the objectives of the proposal. All sizes of applications, including large applications over £1m - and small to medium scale applications will be accepted. Value for money will be taken into account by the Board when assessing proposals.

Three grant schemes are available through the Board:

The above links provide information on the scale and type of activities that fall within each of the grant schemes. Applicants should also refer to:


Applications are particularly encouraged from LMIC Principal Investigators (PI’s), as well as PI’s based in the UK working in equitable partnerships with LMIC investigators.

Institutions based in China or India are not eligible to lead applications to this funding opportunity but are welcomed as collaborating organisations hosting Co-Investigators within proposals. This reflects that from 2020/21 the UK’s partnerships with China and India under the Global Challenges Research Fund and our other ODA funding have a renewed focus: partnerships with Co-Investigators from China or India must have global or regional development impact as the primary objective, with local or national impacts within China or India as secondary objectives. It is expected that Co-Investigators from China and India make a significant contribution to their own research costs, including covering their own overheads in line with the rules set out for HIC costs.

LMIC PIs must be based at a higher education institution, non-profit research institution, or non-governmental organisation with sufficient research capacity to manage and deliver research. LMIC Co-Investigators (Co-I’s) can be based at the aforementioned organisations or at an implementing partner, including government ministries. Applicants should check with their Research Office whether previous applications have been awarded by MRC or UKRI. If they have not, applicants should contact international@mrc.ukri.org to determine eligibility prior to submitting their application.

It is not permitted for the same person to be a PI on more than two proposals at any one time. You may support others as a Co-I, as long as you have the capacity to do so without detriment to the project you lead.

Researchers based in high income countries (HIC) outside of the UK may be Co-Is provided the HIC costs requested do not exceed 30% of the proposed total.

Funding for the Board 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 benefits to the health and economic development of the poorest and most vulnerable populations within LMICs, as defined by the OECD DAC list (except for China and India). Where countries have been identified as likely to graduate from the DAC list in the near future, funding may not be granted). Applications should articulate a clear and specific case for the relevance of the proposed research to these LMIC populations and identify and provide evidence that the proposed plan of research is informed by the needs of the LMIC.

How to apply

All applications to the board must be submitted through the (Je-S) system (to the MRC), by 16:00 (BST) on 13 October 2020.

Creating your Je-S application:

  • Select Council: MRC
  • Select Document Type: Outline Proposal
  • Select Scheme: Standard Outline
  • Select Call/Type/Mode: Applied Global Health Research Board Outline R2 2020
  • Select ‘Create Document’ option

Please also note, all Investigators (PI & Co-I) are required to have a verified Je-S account type when applying for a ‘Standard or Outline Proposal’.

New Je-S users should select (Create Account - Terms and Conditions) to commence the create account process and gain access to the Je-S System.

Should applicants require assistance with any Je-S related matter, please contact the (Je-S) Helpdesk, which is the first point of contact for the Research Councils.

Email: JeSHelp@je-s.ukri.org.

For further information on how to apply please consult the MRC guidance for applicants.

Application process

Proposals are assessed in a two-stage process. The first step involves review of an outline proposal. Successful outline applicants are invited to submit a full proposal, which undergoes external peer review before a further, more detailed, review by the Board. The total assessment time for a proposal submitted to MRC, from outline deadline to full decision, is approximately nine months.

Board opportunities

There are two types of Board opportunity:

  • Ring-fenced opportunities deliver a defined financial commitment to a specific area of focus.
  • Prioritised opportunities are areas of strategic interest that are used to inform funding discussions at the Board meeting.

Board opportunities represent areas of specific strategic focus that help to inform discussions at funding meetings but note that applicants are welcome to submit research proposals focusing on any applied global health topic. Further information on the scope and remit of each of the Board opportunities is provided via the links below. This information must be consulted prior to applying, especially as the specific areas of focus within each board opportunity are likely to change from one round to the next.

Ring-fenced opportunities

Maternal and Neonatal Health

In 2019, MRC and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) launched a call for proposals in Global Maternal and Neonatal Health based on extensive consultation with stakeholders in the UK and LMICs. This consultation was formalised in the MRC-NIHR Overview of Global Maternal and Neonatal Health Research Priorities, which continues to inform MRC activity in this area. From April 2020 onwards, applications addressing maternal and neonatal health should be submitted to the Board and will not be supported by separate funding calls.

Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific application guidance, can be found here.

Prioritised opportunities

Early Childhood Development

The Board supports research in Early Childhood Development (ECD), a recent area of focus that bridges the gap between neonatal health and adolescent health, during a critical period where health and education intersect. Proposals funded in this area will be co-funded by the UK Department for International Development as part of a coordinated effort to increase and scale up the evidence-base for ECD interventions.

Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific application guidance, can be found here.

Adolescent Health

Adolescent Health has been a recent focus of investment for MRC and DFID (via the MRC-DFID concordat) and NIHR, in partnership with ESRC for applied research that addressed the health needs of adolescent populations in LMICs. The focus of these calls was developed in line with the Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents guidance. From now on, applications addressing adolescent health should be submitted to the Board and will not be supported by separate funding calls.

Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific application guidance, can be found here

Implementation science

Maximising impact from research remains a priority for the MRC. To ensure that this priority is met, the Board aims to fund research to address the implementation gap and progress interventions towards real world impact. This complements existing applied global health schemes addressing late phase trials and health systems research, by providing a regular funding opportunity for research utilising robust implementation science approaches. The research is expected to ensure that evidence-based health interventions are implemented in an accessible and equitable way for the poorest and most vulnerable populations living in LMICs.

Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific application guidance, can be found here.

Key Dates

Round 2



Open for outline applications

1 July 2020

Deadline for outline applicants

13 October 2020

Outline decision meeting

19-21 January 2021

Applicants informed of outline decision

January 2021

Deadline for invited full proposals

7 April 2021

Board meeting

14-16 July 2021

Applicants informed of final funding decision

End of July 2021


If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal, or are unsure which Board to apply to, please contact the MRC International inbox (international@mrc.ukri.org) in the first instance. Your query will be routed to the relevant Programme Manager, who broadly cover the following areas:

Head of Global Health Strategy

Jill Jones

Programme Manager for Global Health Challenges

Dr Philip Woodgate (Philip.Woodgate@mrc.ukri.org)

Including: Maternal and neonatal health, early child development, ageing, multimorbidity, non-communicable disease, mental health, neurodegeneration.

Programme Manager for Global Health Strategy

Dr Caroline Harris (Caroline.Harris@mrc.ukri.org)

Including: Global health trials, implementation science, health systems research, infectious disease, adolescent health, capacity building.

UKRI Challenge Manager for Global Health

Dr David Pan (David.Pan@mrc.ukri.org)

Including: Urban Health, planetary health, inter-sectoral global health research.