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GCRF: Networks in vector borne disease research pre-launch announcement

  • Status: Closed
  • Open date: 5 Sep 2016
  • Closing date: 24 Oct 2016 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Grants, MRC strategic

Please note: These dates for expressions of interest are provisional and subject to change

  • Launch meeting registration deadline: 19 August 2016
  • Launch meeting and networking event: 14 September 2016

Jump to: 

Call information
Network membership
Launch meeting and networking event
How to apply
Key dates


The Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are pleased to pre-announce a £9m call for Networks in Vector Borne Disease (VBD) Research.

This call forms part of BBSRC’s and MRC’s activities under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and therefore requires Networks to address VBD challenges primarily relevant to the health or prosperity of Low and Middle Income Countries on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED) DAC List.  The Networks supported through this call will contribute to the UK’s commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA).

We anticipate hosting a launch meeting and networking event on 14 September 2016 to provide potential applicants with more information about the call, the application process and opportunities to interact with others interested in forming similar Networks. While the meeting is free to attend space will be limited and interested parties will need to register for the meeting in advance.


VBD of plants, animals and humans reduce agricultural productivity, affect human health and disrupt ecosystems throughout the world. These diseases profoundly restrict socioeconomic status and development in countries with the highest rate of infection, many of which are located in the tropics and subtropics.  

Outbreaks of African casava mosaic virus in East and Central Africa are estimated to be responsible for losses of between US$ 1.9 – 2.7 billion and the economic impact of Rift Valley fever outbreaks has been estimated to be between US$5-$470 million. VBD accounts for more than 17% of all human infectious diseases, causing more than 1 million deaths annually. More than 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries are at risk of contracting dengue fever and malaria causes more than 600,000 deaths every year. Distribution of these diseases is determined by a complex dynamic of biological, environmental and social factors. Global changes in livestock production practices, increased urbanisation, deforestation and globalisation, have resulted in a global re-emergence of epidemic VBD affecting plants, animals and humans over the last 30 years and spread of VBD from their traditional geographic range, as recently exemplified by the Zika outbreak.

While much research has focussed on the pathogen there has been less attention focussed on the vectors of disease. With increasing resistance of vectors to chemical insecticides new methods of vector control are urgently required.

This call for Networks in VBD Research has been informed by a recent BBSRC-led survey of the UK VBD Research, Training and Infrastructure landscape, which identified the following five key research priorities for the next 5 – 10 years:

  • Development of new control strategies for VBD in particular non-chemical vector control methods such as genetic control;
  • Increased understanding of fundamental vector biology and vector ecology;
  • Understanding what is driving the emergence and expansion of VBDs;
  • Increased understanding of vector pathogen interactions;
  • Improved diagnostics, surveillance and forecasting.

In addition, the survey highlighted a number of important capability gaps in areas such as vector biology, entomology and taxonomy.

Call information

The aims of the call for Networks in VBD Research are:

  • To support Networks focused on a VBD challenges of relevance to countries on the OCED DAC list.
  • To encourage interdisciplinary working and to strengthen research capacity, capabilities and methodologies particularly focussed on the vectors of disease.
  • To provide resources to support pump-priming funding for a range of innovative projects identified by the Networks ultimately leading to more competitive, collaborative, cross-disciplinary and integrative research proposals.
  • To support collaboration between researchers in the UK and LMICs and engagement with end-users, stakeholders and policy makers.


The funders aim to support multidisciplinary Networks which foster collaboration, facilitate wider cross-disciplinary integrative participation (including environmental and social science research) and build capability which together will contribute to and underpin the development of novel strategies to control VBD of plants, animals and humans.


BBSRC and MRC have earmarked up to £9m for this call and expect to support a number of multidisciplinary Networks for up to 3 years in duration focusing on clearly articulated challenges relating to VBD.  

Network membership

The Network Director (Principle Investigator) must be an eligible UK-based applicant from an institution eligible to receive Research Council funding. Information about eligibility criteria can be found in the BBSRC grants guide.

The Network will be expected to include collaborators from countries on the OECD DAC list and have membership from a range of relevant academic disciplines including biological, medical, environmental, economic and social sciences. Networks should also seek to engage stakeholders, end-users and policy makers.

Launch meeting and networking event

We anticipate hosting a one day meeting in central London on 14 September 2016 (venue to be confirmed) to enable potential applicants to network with others interested in forming similar Networks and find out more  information about the call and the application process. Therefore, potential applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the launch meeting. While the meeting is free to attend spaces are limited so potential applicants are advised to register their interest early.

How to register

To register your interest in attending the launch meeting please complete the registration form and send to by 19 August 2016.


The GCRF is a new 5-year, £1.5Bn resource funding stream, announced as part of the 2015 spending review, to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems faced by developing countries. The GCRF will deploy the UK’s world-class research capability to address the challenges faced by the developing world. The GCRF forms part of the UK’s ODA activities which are monitored by the OECD.

All activities funded through the GCRF Networks in VBD Research will form part of the UK’s ODA activities. Therefore, Network proposals submitted to this call should clearly demonstrate how the primary purpose of the Network will be to promote the economic development and welfare of countries on the OECD’s DAC list of ODA recipients (available at List of ODA Recipients 2014 final.pdf (PDF) ). Guidance on ODA definitions and interpretation is available in the OECD factsheet 'Is it ODA?' (PDF)

Please note that it is anticipated that Antigua & Barbuda, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela will graduate from the DAC list in 2017.

Key dates

Activity Date
Launch meeting registration deadline 19 August 2016
Launch meeting and networking event 14 September 2016
Call for written Expressions of Interest opens Early September 2016 tbc
Expression of Interest deadline Late October 2016
Call for full proposals opens (invite only) December 2016 2017 tbc
Full proposal deadline (invite only) Late February 2017 tbc
Late start date 1 July 2017



Morven Roberts


Sarah Plowman
Tel: +44 1793 412196