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The aetiology of self-harm and eating disorders

Please note this opportunity is now CLOSED.
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Child and young adult mental health – the underpinning aetiology of self-harm and eating disorders

Aims
Remit
Available funds and eligibility
How to apply
Key dates
Contact

Aims

The Medical Research Foundation and MRC will make available up to £2.5 million for new high-quality, internationally competitive research to investigate the aetiology and underpinning mechanisms of self-harm or eating disorders, including the underlying bio-psycho-social mechanistic and environmental drivers, in children, adolescents and young adults (up to 25 years). Following from the 2016 Medical Research Foundation-MRC call in this area, a key aim of this funding call is to bring together experts from different research fields, and provide opportunities for researchers already working in associated areas or on other relevant related clinical research to extend the scope of their research interests and develop hypotheses exploring the underlying biology and psychology of these diverse mental health conditions. Associated areas could include other mental health, medical or addictive conditions, for example ADHD, depression or obesity, or important traits which can underpin these conditions including anxiety, impulsivity and compulsivity. However, the primary driver of submitted applications must be to better understand eating disorders or self-harm.

The objective of this funding call is two-fold:

  • to provide proof of principle or pilot funding to initiate new scientific partnerships across disciplines and new research activities, focused on discovery science. The award could be used in a variety of ways to develop new research e.g. developing new networks or achieving scientific strength through links between and within universities in the UK; progressing a new area and delivering new scientific insights, which may lead to larger future proposals eligible for further response mode funding.
  • to provide Research Grant funding for focused research projects that will increase our understanding of self-harm and/or eating disorders, with clear rationale, hypotheses and study design building on current research.  

The awards are intended to be flexible - giving scope to support the early career development of new PIs or the new analysis of existing datasets. The intention of the call is to develop a pipeline of research in order to better understand the underlying pathways and mechanisms of these mental health conditions. The resulting insights into causal or mechanistic understanding should aim to inform future prevention and treatment studies in the longer-term.

Remit

The MRC Strategy for Lifelong Mental Health aims to accelerate understanding of mental illness and the development of new treatments by focusing research in several key areas, including employing a lifelong perspective to mental health and illness with a focus on childhood and adolescence. It is estimated that three quarters of mental health problems in adulthood emerge in childhood and adolescence before the age of 18. The patterns of occurrence and persistence of mental health disorders present important opportunities for research in young people to better understand the mechanisms of disorder emergence, progression, recovery and recurrence.

The Medical Research Foundation’s strategy for improving human health is to identify areas where there is a high health need but where the research investment is comparatively low, and provide funding for key opportunities that have the potential to transform the research base and the researcher’s careers. 

All areas of discovery research relevant to self-harm and/or eating disorders will be considered and applicants are encouraged to explore how awards could be used to develop interactions across different topics. Applications may be broad in scope or focused on a particular aspect of these disorders. It is expected that all applications will appropriately acknowledge the complexity and heterogeneity of these disorders.Self-harm includes intentional self-injury and self-poisoning regardless of suicidal or non-suicidal intent. This therefore includes deliberate, self-inflicted destruction of body tissue and for purposes not socially sanctioned, includes behaviours such as cutting, burning, biting and scratching skin. Eating disorders are syndromes characterised by significant disturbances in eating behaviour and by distress or excessive concern about body shape or weight. Presentation varies, but eating disorders often occur with severe medical or psychiatric comorbidity.

The awards can be used to initiate and build critical mass and capacity in under-explored, high-potential areas of research. Applicants who are proposing to apply their knowledge of a different research field would be particularly welcomed. Applicants will need to demonstrate credible scientific capability in relevant areas at the time of application. The exploitation of the samples and data associated with existing cohorts and clinical population groups and a strong clinical research base is similarly encouraged.

The funding is not intended to support the continuation of existing research grants or groups, staff between posts/funding (i.e. as “bridging” funds), or MSc or PhD studentships.

Available funds and eligibility

Up to £2.5M is available to support high quality pilot studies and research grants submitted to this call. The Medical Research Foundation is the majority funder of this call and a registered charity and as such its funding is not subject to FEC and therefore applications will be awarded at 63% FEC. Decisions will be taken in November 2018.

  • Research Grant: awards may be for up to three years and up to £500,000 Medical Research Foundation/MRC contribution. The normal MRC research grant application process and policies will apply. Please see the standard MRC guidance for applicants for detailed information. Proposals should comprise focused research projects that will increase our understanding of self-harm and/or eating disorders, with clear rationale, hypotheses and study design building on current research.
  • Proof of principle / pilot awards: awards may be for up to two years and up to £250,000 Medical Research Foundation/MRC contribution. Proposals should aim to initiate new scientific partnerships across disciplines and new research activities, focused on discovery science. The award could be used in a variety of ways to develop new research e.g. developing new networks or achieving scientific strength through links between and within universities in the UK; progressing a new area and delivering new scientific insights which may lead on to larger future proposals. Please see the application details and guidelines for the pilot grant case for support for further details.

How to apply

The MRC funding and eligibility rules will apply to this co-funded scheme. Please see the MRC guidance for applicants for information regarding eligibility. If you have any queries relating to the eligibility criteria or the remit of your research then please contact the MRC’s Programme Manager for Mental Health and Addiction, Dr Rachael Panizzo (rachael.panizzo@mrc.ukri.org).  

All applications must be submitted no later than 4pm on 26 July 2018, using the MRC’s Joint Electronic Submission system.  

Key dates

Activity

Date

Call open for applications in Je-S

8 May 2018

Application deadline 

26 July 2018 (16:00 BST)

Panel meeting

27 November 2018

Decision to applicants

November 2018

Contact

Applicants wishing to apply for this scheme are encouraged to contact the MRC’s Programme Manager for Mental Health and Addiction, Dr Rachael Panizzo (rachael.panizzo@mrc.ukri.org), in the first instance, to discuss the prospective bid. All applications must be submitted no later than 4pm on 26 July 2018, using the MRC’s Joint Electronic Submission system.