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UK-Kenya Joint Partnership on Non-Communicable Diseases

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


The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Kenya are pleased to invite research proposals to the Newton Fund’s UK-Kenya Joint Partnership on Non-Communicable Diseases

This initiative will provide funding for high quality collaborative research projects focused on addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Kenya.

In total, up to £2.2m will be made available for this initiative: up to £1.5m from the UK and up to £700k from Kenya.

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Expression of Interest submission date

Researchers planning to submit to this scheme are asked to submit a short expression of interest form to international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk by 9 April 2018. Please see further details below.

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The health needs of low and middle income countries (LMICs) are evolving with NCDs now responsible for 40 million deaths per annum (70% of all global deaths), a figure projected to rise to 52 million deaths by 2030.

In Kenya, NCDs account for more than 50% of total hospital admissions and over 55% of hospital deaths. The Kenyan Ministry of Health and partners have therefore developed the Kenya National Strategy for the prevention and control of Noncommunicable Disease, 2015–2020, which serves as a comprehensive guide to addressing this emerging epidemic.

This strategy document provides a roadmap towards ensuring a significant reduction in the burden of NCDs in Kenya.

Within this strategy, the Ministry of Health aims to:

1. Establish mechanisms to raise the priority accorded to NCDs at national and county levels and to integrate their prevention and control into policies across all government sectors.

2. Formulate and strengthen legislations, policies and plans for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases at both county and national government levels.

3. Promote healthy lifestyles and implement interventions to reduce the modifiable risk factors for NCDs: unhealthy diets; physical inactivity; harmful use of alcohol; tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

4. Promote and conduct research and surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

5. Promote sustainable local and international partnerships for the prevention and control of NCDs.

6. Establish and strengthen effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems for NCDs and their determinants.

7. Promote and implement evidence based strategies and interventions for prevention and control of violence and injuries.

8. Put in place interventions to reduce exposure to environmental, occupational and biological risk factors.

9. Strengthen health systems for NCD prevention and control across all levels of the health sector.

10. Promote and strengthen advocacy, communication and social mobilization for NCD prevention and control.

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Objectives and scope

The objective of this initiative is to deliver research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborative projects between scientists from Kenya and the UK that will underpin progress towards achieving the objectives laid out in the Kenyan NCD strategy beyond 2020, and to enable the pursuit of shared research interests.

This initiative has been launched under the Newton Fund and as such all projects must be collaborative in nature and focused specifically on addressing research of relevance to Kenya and the Kenyan population.

Under this first MRC-NRF initiative, research proposals must specifically address one or more of the following diseases:

  • Cancer.
  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Chronic respiratory diseases.
  • Diabetes.

The funders are welcoming research proposals across the spectrum of research activities including, but not limited to, basic discovery research, epidemiology, understanding the mechanisms of disease, novel detection and diagnosis, development of therapeutics/interventions. Proposals must fall within the remits of both funders.

Research proposals must seek to generate scientific outcomes of relevance to the prevention, treatment, management and/or control of the above listed diseases in Kenya.

The purpose of this call is to support research projects; however, the funders are also encouraging projects that incorporate elements of capacity building within them.

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?”

Therefore, it is crucial that all applications are of specific relevance to the Kenyan population.

It is the responsibility of the applicants to demonstrate how the research proposed meets the ODA criteria.

For queries relating to the scope of this call, please contact: international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

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Projects must start in both the UK and Kenya by 17 January 2019. Projects may be up to three years in length and so must have completed by 31 December 2021.

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Funding available

MRC will make up to £1.5m in total for this initiative. The MRC contribution will be made available to the UK collaborators to fund the UK component of the collaborative research projects. MRC will provide funding under standard arrangements and at 80% fEC.

NRF will make up to £700k available to fund the Kenyan collaborators.

It is expected that this funding will support approximately four joint projects depending on the number and quality of proposals received.

For further information, please read the scheme specific Guidance for Applicants.

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Online networking database

MRC and NRF have created an Online Networking Database to compile a list of UK and Kenyan Researchers who are interested in finding possible collaborators for this call.

A copy of the Online Networking Database will be available from Wednesday, 28 March and will be updated every Friday until 30 April.

To ensure your details are shared with the research community in the UK and Kenya, please complete the networking document template

Details will be compiled every Thursday and an updated spreadsheet will be populated and available on this web-page every Friday.

The networking document should be completed in English and submitted to international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

Please view the UK-Kenya Networking document. If you require the spreadsheet in a different format, please email  international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

 [ET(MRC1]Please add link to document

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

  • The funding agencies will not play a brokering role in this call.
  • The proposal should be developed by a UK PI and a Kenyan PI.

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 Newton Fund ODA page.

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. Research Organisations that are eligible to apply to the MRC, for example MRC Units and Institutes may apply to this call.

Kenyan applicants

 The call is restricted to Kenyan institutions of higher learning and Kenyan National Research Organisations pursuing health research. Researchers eligible for NRF funding must refer to the NRF Research Funding Guidelines and Criteria Manual at (www.researchfund.go.ke).

Further eligibility details for this research call can be found in the scheme specific guidance document.

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 must be a Kenyan citizen to apply as a principal investigator.

The funders are not seeking to fund partners outside of the UK and Kenya through this initiative. Please contact international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk if you are planning to involve co-investigators from a third country in your proposal.

Further eligibility details for this research call can be found in the scheme specific guidance document.

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Assessment process and decision making process

To be funded, proposals must be 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 of the research.
  • Scientific rationale: novelty, importance and timeliness of the research.
  • Design and feasibility of the project plan.
  • Partnership: including strength and clarity of collaborations and opportunities provided, quality of the project management structure proposed; the added value of the UK-Kenyan collaboration.
  • Quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities.
  • Value for money for Kenyan and UK science.
  • Ethical considerations and governance arrangements.

In addition, applicants must describe how the proposed research is ODA compliant [approximately 150 words]. This section will be made publicly available. For further information on ODA, please see the RCUK guidance

Applications will be assessed for ODA-compliance before the peer review process and will not be assessed if the funders do not feel the proposed work is ODA compliant.

Eligible applications will be externally peer reviewed, and applicants will be offered the opportunity to provide a written response to these reviews.

Following this process, applications will be assessed by a joint MRC-NRF Review Panel.

Funding decisions will be made through a joint process.

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Key dates

Closing date for Investigators to indicate their intention to submit a proposal

9 April 2018

Deadline for Investigators to submit proposal

9 May 2018 (4pm UK time)

Panel Meeting

October 2018

Grants begin

January 2019


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How to apply

In order to identify peer reviewers and convene assessment panels in advance, it is important that researchers indicate their intention to submit by completing an expression of interest form. Please email international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk and include the completed expression of interest form by 9 April 2018.

Full applications must be submitted by UK PI’s on behalf of both UK and Kenyan PIs to the MRC via the Je-S application system by 4pm UK time, 9 May 2018.

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The Newton Utafiti Fund

The Newton Fund builds scientific and innovation partnerships with 16 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK Delivery Partners, which include the Research Councils, the UK National Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.

For further information visit the Newton Fund homepage and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund

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Contacts and guidance

Please refer to the following guidance documents:

For further information, please contact international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

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