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UK-China AMR Partnership Initiative

Please note this opportunity is now CLOSED.
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The Medical Research Council (MRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are pleased to invite proposals to the UK-China AMR Partnership Initiative.

This initiative will provide funding for high quality collaborative research projects focussed on addressing the growing global burden of antimicrobial resistance, specifically antibacterial resistance of clinical and veterinary relevance in China.

In total up to £4.5m will be made available for this initiative on the UK side with up to 3million RMB per project from NSFC.

Newton Fund

The UK contribution will be provided by the Newton Fund. The Newton Fund is an 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 RCUK Newton Fund page.

The Newton Fund requires that the funding be awarded in a manner that fits with Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines. All applications under this call must therefore be compliant with these guidelines.


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), especially resistance to antibiotics, is a growing global problem. We are facing a rise in the number of bacteria becoming resistant to existing antibiotics without an increase in new antibiotics, alternative treatments or significant innovation/approval of new therapies. It is clear that an interdisciplinary approach is needed to tackle these challenges and make a step change in addressing antimicrobial resistance.

MRC, BBSRC and ESRC, who are each members of the UK’s Antimicrobial Resistance Funders' Forum, share the view with the NSFC that, in order to tackle the increasing burden of AMR, we must bring together the necessary funds and expertise by pooling resources.

In November 2015, the call sponsors held a UK-China AMR workshop in Shanghai, China to help scope the call. This workshop brought together Chinese and British researchers to explore field needs, national strengths and areas of potential complementarity. A summary of workshop findings and a list of attendees can be found in the UK China AMR Workshop Report.

Objectives and remit

The UK-China AMR Partnership Initiative aims to provide support for joint Chinese and UK projects working in the area of antimicrobial resistance research, specifically antibacterial research in the context of challenges of particular relevance to China.

The objective is to deliver significant research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborative projects between scientists from China and the UK to enable the pursuit of shared research interests. The participating funding agencies welcome proposals that sit within or across the remits of the funding agencies participating in this call.


Through this call, the funders are looking to support proposals that target one or more of the following areas, with interdisciplinary proposals encouraged:

1. Understanding the development of resistance, the epidemiology, and the transmission dynamics of antibacterial resistance within and between species (genetic, bacterial and host levels).

2. Developing antibiotics, alternative approaches and diagnostics to appropriately treat and prevent resistant bacteria of clinical/veterinary importance. This may include: understanding the mechanisms of action; the use of antibiotics and alternative therapies currently in practise for both humans and animals; development of rapid point of care diagnostics; associated business models and economic issues.

3. Understanding behaviours in order to reduce the development, emergence and spread of antibacterial resistance within and beyond human and animal healthcare settings. This would include antibiotic prescribing and real world use, but also broader public health approaches such as in hygiene and infection control practises, in both human and animal settings. It would factor in barriers to behaviour change such as organisational and cultural norms, and financial incentives to prescribe drugs.

4. Understanding the functions of different aspects of the healthcare and veterinary systems and sources of health advice as well as their interrelationships. Understanding how 'formal' systems can draw on local, ‘informal’ practices. Is it possible to provide universal access to appropriately regulated therapies? What is the supply chain for antibacterials? Can the supply chain be mapped? What are the global and local incentives for supply and demand of antibacterials?

This call has been launched under the Newton Fund and as such all research projects should be collaborative in nature and be focussed on addressing research of relevance to China.


This call will fund partnerships between UK and China based researchers working in the area of antibacterial resistance. It is important to note that:

  • This is an open call; applicants do not need to have attended the UK-China AMR workshop in order to apply.
  • The funding agencies will not play a brokering role in this call.

For support under this call, applicants must be eligible to apply for funding from their respective country’s funding agency:

  • For the UK participants, standard RCUK eligibility criteria as described on the RCUK website will apply.
  • This call is a ‘managed mode’ call being run by the MRC on behalf of the participating research councils. Therefore Research Organisations that are eligible to apply to the MRC, for example MRC Units and Institutes, may apply to this call.  Other research organisations that are typically eligible to apply to BBSRC and/or ESRC, but not the MRC, should contact international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk as soon as possible so that we can explore amending the Research Organisation’s eligibility status for this specific call (please see the independent research organisation list sheet for more information).
  • Chinese applicants should use either H19 or H31 as their project code when submitting applications.

All proposals for this call must meet Newton Fund requirements. In particular, proposals must be compliant with Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding rules. For further information see the factsheet "What is ODA?".

Principal Investigators may only submit one application to this scheme as Principal Investigator, but may be involved in more applications if listed as a Co-Investigator.

Applicants with queries regarding eligibility should contact: international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

Funding available

In total up to £4.5m will be made available on the UK side.The UK contribution will be made available to the UK collaborators to fund the UK component of the collaborative research projects. UK based applicants may request between £400k and £1milllion to cover the UK component of the research projects.

The UK funding agencies will provide funding under standard arrangements and at 80% fEC.

The NSFC’s contribution will be made available to fund the Chinese collaborators. NSFC will make up to 3million RMB available to fund the Chinese component of each research project.

The size of the grants will vary according to the needs of each research project. Applicants do not need to request equal amounts from both sides. The difference in values should reflect the difference in costs covered and local prices. The agencies also expect the costs on each side to accurately reflect the research effort to be carried out. It is expected, however, that the research effort on both sides should be comparable.

The UK element of funding will not cover UK PhD studentships or requests for capital items.

For further information, please read the scheme specific Guidance for Applicants to the UK China AMR Partnership Initiative.


Projects must start in both the UK and China on or before 1st July 2016. Projects may be up to three years in length and so must have completed by the end of June 2019.

Intention to submit

In order to identify peer reviewers and convene assessment panels in advance, it is important that UK researchers indicate their intention to submit a proposal. Please email a preliminary indication using the Intention to submit form by 15th January to the following address: international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

How to Apply

UK and Chinese applicants must apply separately to their respective funding agencies by 1st March 2016 for the funding component requested within each country, but this must be based around a common scientific plan. Both partners must therefore submit an identical joint Case for Support written in English. Failure to submit a valid application to both sponsors, unless exceptionally approved and agreed between the sponsors, will invalidate both submissions.

The MRC is leading this initiative on the UK side and as such all UK applicants must submit to the MRC via JeS. JeS submissions must be received by 4pm GMT on the day of the deadline.

Applications from the UK Principal Investigator should be submitted to the UK Research Councils’ Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) System. UK applicants must complete all sections required for a standard Research Council Grant proposal. Please include a 2 page CV plus a 1 page list of publications for each of the named investigators (based in China and the UK).

Please also fill in and submit the UK-China Joint Funding Summary form. UK applicants should upload this under the attachment type ‘Letter of Support’.

Justification of Resources, Pathways to Impact and Data Management Plan documents must also be attached to the Je-S application.

For further information, please read the scheme specific Guidance for Applicants to the UK China AMR Partnership Initiative.

Further guidance can be found in the: MRC Guidance for Applicants.

Chinese Principal Investigators must submit an identical case for support written in English to: https://isisn.nsfc.gov.cn/egrantweb/.

Chinese Principal Investigators should use either H19 or H31 as their project code when submitting applications.

Please remember, all ethical sections must be completed for any relevant activities, whether they take place in the UK or China.

Key Dates

Closing Date for investigators to indicate their intention to submit a proposal

15th January

Deadline for investigators to submit proposal

1st March

Panel Meeting

End May

Grant Start Dates

Due to the tight timescales and funding restrictions of the Newton Fund, grants must start by 1 July. The funding agencies will not afford any leeway on this. Projects funded through this initiative may be up to 3 years in length and must have completed by the end of June 2019.

Please refer to the MRC Applicants Handbook for information on what the starting procedure entails; please inform the relevant support staff in your organisation of this requirement to ensure the project starts on time.

Additional Guidance for “Case for Support” and “Justification of Resources”

The UK and Chinese applicants should submit a joint Case for Support, written in English. For the UK applicants this must be attached as a PDF to the J-eS application.

Briefly, the case for support may be up to 8 pages in length, including 1 page for references, using Arial 11pt typeface with margins of 2cms on all sides. In your case for support, you should address each of the following headings:

  • Title
  • Research question(s) to be addressed
  • Importance of the research
  • Scientific potential and expected outcomes
  • People and track record
  • Research environment
  • Research plans and deliverables
  • Consideration of ethical, governance and IP issues around the project
  • Data preservation, exploitation and dissemination
  • In addition, applicants must describe how the proposed UK funded work is ODA compliant [up to 150 words]. This section will be made publicly available. For help with this, please see Official Development Assistance – RCUK Newton Fund Guidance.

Generic Guidance on content under each of these headings can be found in the

Evaluation process

Following submission, peer-review will be undertaken by the funding agencies. To be funded, proposals must be ODA compliant, internationally competitive and at a standard equivalent to that normally expected to be supported by each funding organisation.

Key assessment criteria for the submissions will be:

  • Significance and Impact
  • Scientific Rationale: novelty, importance and timeliness of the research;
  • Design and Feasibility of the Project Plan (including the appropriateness of the research design, work plan, research team);
  • Partnership: including strength and clarity of collaborations and opportunities provided, quality of the project management structure proposed, and the value adding nature of the proposed collaboration;
  • Quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities;
  • Value for money for Chinese and UK science;
  • Ethical considerations and governance arrangements.

Applications received and comments from all peer-reviewers will be assessed by a joint Research Panel

Contacts and guidance

Please read the scheme specific Guidance for Applicants to the UK China AMR Partnership Initiative.

For further information, UK applicants should contact:

For further information, China applicants should contact: