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MRC / South African MRC / GSK: Joint call on Non-Communicable Diseases in Africa

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



The UK and South African Medical Research Councils announce the Newton Fund UK/South Africa joint research programme.

The MRC is delighted  to announce the first of two Open calls as part of a collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). Under the umbrella of the Newton Fund, the goal of the joint research programme is to promote collaboration between South African, African and British scientists. The first call will focus on understanding Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) in Africa and will be partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). A number of projects will be chosen through an open call and peer review process. The total fund available is approximately R90M (£5m) over 3 years. The funders expect to award this amount through this current call for proposals, and that the funded proposals will each be up to a maximum of 3 years duration.

The Call is specifically looking for proposals that target NCD’s of high prevalence in Africa. As NCDs emerge as the new big killers, there is a clear opportunity for public and private sector partners to work together to share expertise.  The focus of applications will be on translational research that will integrate basic laboratory-based research, clinical research, and population-based research, with the long-term aim of improving scientific understanding of the unique attributes of NCDs in African populations. This research will further optimise the understanding of disease mechanisms, presentation and progression, inform prevention and treatment strategies, and will aim to contribute towards reaching the World Health Assembly goal to reduce avoidable mortality from NCDs by 25% by 2025.

In addition to financial support, GSK is offering to provide scientific support to successful applicants. The level of interaction will be determined through the application process and will be tailored to the individual needs of the project. Discussions between successful applicants and GSK scientists will commence after the outline proposals/LOI have been assessed with proposers and have been invited to submit full proposals.  GSK scientists will collaborate throughout the duration of the grant and are enthusiastic about discussing aspects of the project and sharing ideas based on the GSK experience in the area of research.

What is in scope?

  • To be considered, proposals must address at least one of the priority NCD areas: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and chronic respiratory disease.
  • Proposals can address disease mechanisms, pathophysiology and aetiology, or prevention, diagnosis, management and treatment of primary disease and associated complications of the priority NCD areas listed above.
  • Epidemiological research is in scope, but, as with all proposals, must be part of a wider translational study where there is clear potential for practical impact.
  • Research questions addressing the intersection between NCDs and infectious diseases are encouraged; in these instances the NCD component must be the primary area of focus.
  • Research that builds on existing disease cohorts is within the scope of this call.

All proposals must emphasise why the information generated will be of major importance to addressing the growing burden of NCDs in Africa, and how that information would have a practical impact that has potential to provide scalable and sustainable solutions.

What is out of scope?

To ensure the most appropriate links between GSK and the funded groups, we do not consider that the following topics are appropriate for this particular scheme.  If your interest is in these areas, please contact SAMRC and UKMRC for details of other opportunities.

  • Proposals outside of the specified priority NCD areas
  • Stand-alone health promotion programmes, e.g. standalone mass media campaigns, awareness-raising campaigns
  • Standalone smoking and alcohol cessation programme research
  • Standalone policy/regulation research, including, but not limited to, health policy research, smoking/tobacco policy, food, and alcohol regulation
    • Standalone health services/implementation science projects. 
    • ​Standalone environmental studies e.g. air quality studies




1. Publication of call

24th April

2. Deadline for submitting Letters of Intent

28th  June

3. Invitations for full application

August 2015

4. Full application deadline

October 2015

5. Award

January 2016

How to Apply:

SAMRC is managing this call and so proposals must be submitted to SAMRC.

Applicants should therefore visit the SAMRC website for the full call details and guidance relating to how to apply.  

The Newton Fund

The Newton Fund is a new initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies. It was launched by the Chancellor in April 2014, and will deliver £375 million of funding over the course of five years.

The Fund forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). ODA funded activity focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee list. Newton Fund countries represent a sub-set of this list. For more information please visit the MRC Newton Fund page.