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UK Nutrition Research Partnership (UK NRP) – Nutrition Hot Topics Workshops

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Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Call process and application
  3. Aims of the call
  4. Notes for applicants
  5. Post workshop requirements
  6. Funding available
  7. Important points to note
  8. Assessment process
  9. Assessment criteria for workshop proposals
  10. Key dates
  11. Contacts

1. Summary

The UK Nutrition Research Partnership (UK NRP) for health and disease is a partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which resulted as a direct implementation of the recommendations of the OSCHR Review of Nutrition and Human Health Research (PDF, 3.00MB)..

Following the publication of this review, the UK NRP wishes to strengthen the UK nutrition research base by attracting new expertise and new partners into the field. The overall objective is to provide novel and robust insights into human nutrition, with the potential of transforming the long-term health of the population.

Hot Topics workshop: the rationale

This call has been developed to accelerate progress by encouraging new thinking on important challenges in the nutrition field. Focused workshops will enable specific nutrition “hot topics” needing urgent attention to be addressed in an agile and timely manner. The aim is to support new linkages between different disciplines and to build research capacity by encouraging the formation of new multidisciplinary research teams able to address these challenges, with a view to build a strong pipeline of ideas and collaborative projects that could be competitive for response mode funding in the near future.

Researchers based within the UK are now invited to respond to a UK NRP Call for funds to organise hot topic workshops, each addressing an important multidisciplinary challenge in nutrition research.

Broad hot topic areas have been identified by the UK NRP (see Section 2). Applicants should either propose a workshop clearly related to one of the identified topics, or may suggest a hot topic of their own. All workshop topics proposed must be highly relevant to human nutrition.

Co-leadership (designated as Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator) of each workshop is required, one of which should be an early career researcher.

Awards will provide up to £10k of funding per workshop. The UK NRP expects to fund up to eight workshops in total on different topics related to human nutrition.

The workshop must take place before 31 July 2020

This is a single-stage call; applications will be assessed by the UK NRP in November 2019.

This call is part of a long-term approach to build research capacity and partnerships through phased and strategic development. It is anticipated that the workshop funding will enable groups to apply for future funding to lead new multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral research proposals.

2. Call process and application

Eligibility criteria

The MRC will administer this call on behalf of the UK NRP. Standard MRC eligibility criteria will apply. The lead Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) must be based at a UK higher education institution or at an eligible independent research institution. Principal/Co-Principal Investigators supported on open-ended or fixed-term contracts may apply for these awards. The workshop must take place before any fixed-term contracts expire.  All funding will be managed through the Lead PI’s host organisation.

For further details regarding eligibility for funding please refer to the MRC Guidance for Applicants.

Application process

Applicants must submit:

i) a proposal via email using the Application form. The accompanying Applicant guidance for this call advises applicants how to complete their application form.

ii) a short CV for both the PI and Co-I (max. 2 pages of core CV and 1 page of relevant publications for each investigator)  

iii) a signed letter of support from the PI’s host institution

Applicants should submit their completed application (in the format specified in the Applicant guidance) and email it to UKNRPWorkshop@mrc.ukri.org.

Applications must be received by 16:00 on 6 November 2019.

No late applications will be accepted.

3. Aims of the call

The UK NRP Workshop Awards will broaden the research base and increase collaborations by bringing together expertise from within and outside the current nutrition field, and from diverse disciplinary and methodological backgrounds. We are particularly keen to attract the most exciting and transformative workshop ideas which either focus on a novel emerging aspect (of a topic area), or seek new approaches to a known nutrition challenge. Workshops with an innovative format and programme to ensure rich discussion and interaction are particularly welcome.

Among the potential topics identified by the UK NRP are:

  • Chronobiology and nutrition
  • Microbiome – context specific mechanistic/functional understanding closely linked to human nutrition and physiology
  • Frailty (muscle) and nutrition – examples include: muscle as an endocrine organ, recovery and signalling; sarcopenia and mechanisms of cachexia; human phenotyping and nutritional status in older people (including multimorbidities)
  • Appetite – examples include: better understanding of the gut-brain axis; mechanisms of anorexia and cachexia, overweight/obesity; translation of science with particular relevance to ageing populations
  • Dietary behaviour – behavioural/nutrition science interfaces and how to change dietary behaviour in a sustainable way. May include food choice, portion control, and socioeconomic/cultural aspects.
  • Micronutrients – context specific mechanistic/functional understanding closely linked to human nutrition and physiology. Improved understanding of interactions with other nutrients and influencing factors.
  • Vulnerable populations and inequalities – to include nutritional drivers and key physiological/behavioural/social and environmental determinants
  • Ethnicity and response to diet – biological (e.g. genetics/epigenetics) and behavioural/social/cultural aspects
  • Interplay between nutrition and physical activity – at the mechanistic level, but could also be socioeconomic and cultural factors

Applicants are free to suggest an alternative hot topic but it must be related to nutrition and it will be judged on its novelty and importance to the field.

It should be noted that the UK NRP plans to sponsor a larger workshop on Dietary Intake Assessment and so proposals based on this topic should not be submitted to this call.

Primary outcomes

Expected primary outcomes for the challenge-led workshop:

  • Stimulating scientifically valuable discussion and facilitating the exchange of interesting new ideas
  • Bringing together a new community of researchers and stakeholders/users with a range of research expertise, and from relevant non-academic sectors. It is expected that some participants will have no track-record or previous association with nutrition research
  • Enable different disciplines and sectors to agree collective research goals
  • Development of research questions and priorities and the recommendation of new approaches and new insights
  • Catalysing new groups of researchers with the relevant expertise, well-positioned to apply for funding to undertake research to address the specific challenge
  • A Workshop Report for dissemination (see Section 5)

4. Notes for applicants

Workshop characteristics

  • Co-leadership (designated as Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator) of each workshop is required, one of which should be early career (i.e. making their first steps to full independence). We would encourage leads from two different disciplines to enable a wider outreach and participation in the event.
  • Proposed workshops must offer a degree of innovation and novelty, both in terms of the nutrition topic/challenge to be addressed and participants to be invited.
  • The aim should be to bring different disciplines together, and to catalyse new ideas. No relevant discipline is excluded, although the disciplinary mix will be dictated by the nature of the topic identified.
  • The workshop can focus on the role of nutrition to improve health or in the aetiology, prevention or treatment of a specific important disease or group of diseases, a critically important methodological challenge, or the development of transformative new tools and technologies.
  • Workshops can cover the spectrum from basic science to behavioural and more applied research, as relevant to the topic/challenge. Topics should, however, have a clear relevance to human nutrition.
  • We highly encourage an open and outward looking approach regarding participation. Workshops should bring together a well-balanced range of disciplines and make linkages to relevant stakeholders/users of research. Methods for selecting participants should be fair and transparent.
  • Applicants should explain how they will develop and manage the workshop and provide adequate reassurance on its format and the generation of novel ideas.
  • It is expected that the workshop will be a one-day meeting for between 30-60 participants. Alternative arrangements can be proposed but must be fully justified in terms of research need and likely benefit.
  • The workshop should encourage the active participation of early career researchers and students
  • Industrial partners (new, or where links are already in place) may take part in the workshop to support the development of pre-competitive research with translational potential
  • Whilst this call is focused on building UK research capability, some outreach is encouraged. Overseas researchers may be invited to play a part in the workshop where this is judged appropriate and provides clear added value (e.g. unique expertise or infrastructure). However, the majority of participants are expected to be UK-based.
  • The workshop papers and report should acknowledge UK NRP funding
  • Contributions (in cash or in-kind) from host institutes and other partners to the collaboration are encouraged where this is appropriate to its mission. Sponsors must adhere to MRC’s policy on open access and sharing of any outputs from the workshop (e.g. workshop report, other dissemination media).

Data Protection

The Workshop organiser and their host organisation will need to hold and use personal data in order to support the delivery of the event. It will also be necessary to share participant details with the venue to allow them to manage attendance and any accessibility and/or dietary requirements. In addition, a Workshop Report which include a list of participants is a key output. Management of personal data for the event must meet General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 requirements. Further information: GDPR Resources

5. Post workshop requirements

Workshop leads (PI and Co-PI) for successful applications will be responsible for providing the following information once the workshop has taken place:

A Workshop report containing
a) the final workshop agenda and list of participants (as an Annex to the workshop report)
b) Context and purpose - a short ‘landscape’ description of relevant research and activities related to the topic and the reason for the workshop
c) Main aims of the workshop
d) a summary of the main recommendations and outcomes of the workshop
e) plans for wider dissemination, future publications and/or follow-up
f) High-level expenditure summary (also see Section 5 and Applicant Guidance).

The workshop report should be submitted within two months of the event taking place.

Where possible the Workshop Report should be posted on the website of the lead PI’s host organisation so that it will be possible to update with information on any medium and longer-term outcomes attributable to the funded workshop.

6. Funding available

The aim is to fund up to eight UK NRP Workshop Awards, with each supported at a maximum total contribution of £10k. These awards can be used flexibly to support a range of relevant and justified activities and should be used in such a manner as to best deliver the workshop. The MRC expects applications to adhere to public sector budgetary guidelines (detailed information is provided in the Applicant Guidance) and demonstrate the maximum value for money from the funding.

Requests for funding may include:

  • Meeting room hire and audio/visual equipment
    Workshops should be held in appropriately-sized meeting rooms either at a local University or other suitable venue which offers good value for money
  • Lunch and refreshments: Reasonable catering costs
  • Travel costs: Travel expenses (economy class) are allowed in the proposed budget. Consideration should be given to whether it is feasible to pay for travel expenses for all attendees, or for organisers and key speakers etc. Where possible, industry participants should meet their own travel costs.
  • Investigators’ salaries - The Principal Investigator (PI), Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) may, if they so wish, request funds to cover their salary costs (and associated estates and indirect costs) for the time spent on planning and managing the workshop, and writing the workshop report. These costs should be reasonable and not constitute a significant proportion of the funds requested in the proposal.
  • Administrative support - A contribution may be requested for administrative support to help organise the workshop. The expectation is that this will be provided by existing staff and no new recruitments will be made. Costs should be reasonable and ideally only form a small part of the request for funding.
  • Communication and dissemination - Reasonable costs for communications, monitoring and dissemination of the workshop’s output can also be included
  • Other workshop expenses
    Other workshop expenses may be requested. All such requests must be well justified in detail with an itemized budget break down and must be specifically related to the topic of the workshop.
  • Accommodation
    Should only be booked only where absolutely necessary – for example for a key speaker

Budget Adjustments
Following award, reasonable adjustment between cost headings will be allowable but more substantial changes, particularly movement of funds into staff costs, may need written approval by the MRC. Once an award has been agreed the MRC will not meet any increases in overall cost.

Payment of award
Funding will be paid to the lead Principal Investigator’s host organisation who will be responsible for any allocation of funds to other parties who have also incurred workshop related costs. In order to receive reimbursements for workshop costs, the Finance department for the lead PI’s host institution should submit an invoice and expenditure summary for workshop charges against the cost headings set out above. These should be submitted within 30 days following the workshop meeting.

All receipts related to workshop costs should be retained and we reserve the right to request to see these before payment is made. We reserve the right to refuse reimbursement for any items which do not comply with public sector budgetary guidelines. Further details can be found in the Applicant Guidance for this call.

7. Important points to note

  • Applicants may be the Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) on only one application for a Workshop Award
  • Proposed workshop leads should not have received a research workshop grant on the chosen topic in the past 24 months
  • Workshop grants are available only for workshop ideas that are new and innovative. Funding will not be provided to deliver the aims of on-going research or an established long-term research programme.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion are important principles which should be taken into account when planning the workshop. Workshops should include a diverse set of participants, ideally including researchers from across the UK, who are at different stages of their careers.
  • Funding cannot be requested for general conferences and dissemination workshops, or student bursaries to attend them
  • The workshop organisers will be responsible for managing all aspects of the workshop, including publicity for their workshop, and for report writing and the dissemination of proceedings
  • All Workshop proposals submitted to by the published deadline will be considered complete and final. No additional material can be added to proposals after the deadline, unless specifically requested by the Call Secretariat.
  • Funding requested should be at a level appropriate for the planned event. Any unspent funds cannot be used for purposes unrelated to the event.
  • The MRC reserves the right to withdraw funding if the workshop is not being progressed appropriately and/or to plan, and/or if the workshop has received insufficient interest from participants. In such cases, the workshop leads should consult the Call secretariat at the earliest possible opportunity.

8. Assessment process

Applications will be assessed by the UK NRP which is comprised of senior independent academics and stakeholders.

An assessment of workshop proposals will be made on the basis of the overall quality of the proposal, and its fit to the aims of this Call. The UK NRP will also consider the importance of the topic to the field and whether it has the potential to attract a sufficiently broad community of interested participants. Other factors, such as timeliness, potential overlap with other planned workshops or activities, or feasibility, will also be taken into account when making the final decision. See also Section 8: Assessment criteria for workshop proposals.

9. Assessment criteria for workshop proposals

Applicants should consider carefully the following criteria which will be taken into account by the UK NRP when assessing proposals:

  • Relevance to human nutrition and fit to the aims of the call
  • Clarity of aims – is the chosen topic sufficiently well focused and purpose of workshop clearly described?
  • Degree of novelty and innovation - whether the proposed workshop is likely to make an important contribution to the field and brings together appropriate disciplines and actors that may not normally be involved in nutrition research
  • Importance and timeliness - the contribution the proposed workshop will make towards addressing a key challenge(s) in the field
  • Potential of the proposed workshop to generate new ideas and partnerships and to stimulate the development and submission of high-quality research proposals
  • Proposed workshop format - the extent to which the planned activities allow the generation of new ideas and implementation of plans to address the specified challenge(s). Is the proposed format sufficiently well designed to deliver the stated aims?
  • Participants and plans for wider engagement (academics, users etc.) – do the initial plans appear to encompass the relevant combination of expertise, across disciplines and sectors, needed to begin to address the challenge(s) identified in a new way? Is the workshop likely to achieve an appropriate level of diversity and also balance between researchers at different stages of their careers?
  • Suitability of core management team - strong drive to develop an intellectually challenging event and to engage with a broad range of research expertise, drawn from different disciplines, and from relevant non-academic sectors
  • Training – will the workshop be beneficial for early career researchers, PhD students and research assistants?
  • Resources and Management – the appropriateness of the requested resources. Effectiveness of the proposed planning and management arrangements, including administration; publicity; support; and cost effectiveness.
  • Wider impact for the field following the event - are plans for dissemination of workshop outcomes and any planned follow-up sufficiently well designed to ensure effective follow-through?

10. Key dates

Launch of call

4 October 2019

Closing date for proposals

6 November 2019 16:00

Proposals assessed by UK NRP

November 2019

Funding outcomes

December 2019

Workshop to be held by

31 July 2020

Workshop reporting

No later than 8 weeks after the event takes place

11. Contacts

If you have a query about the scientific aspects of your proposal, please contact the UK NRP Programme Manager: Dr Karen Finney, email karen.finney@mrc.ukri.org.

To discuss your eligibility or any other non-scientific queries please contact email UKNRPWorkshop@mrc.ukri.org.