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UK – Philippines: Joint Health Research Initiative Call for concept proposals

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


The deadline for the submission of concept proposals has been extended to 6 June 2017.

The UK Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Health and Research Development (PCHRD) invite concept proposals to the second UK-Philippines Joint Health Research Call.

This initiative will provide funding for high quality 3-year collaborative research projects focusing on Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases of relevance to the Philippines. This exciting initiative builds on the MRC-PCHRD Call launched in 2015 through which 6 proposals addressing research needs in Infectious Diseases were funded. 


The second call being launched by MRC and PCHRD aims to further build on the strengths of the UK and Filipino research base by funding innovative partnerships in Communicable as well as Non-Communicable Diseases of relevance to the Philippines. While the 2015 call focused entirely on Infectious Disease research, this second call aims to enable opportunities for partnership in the areas of Infectious Diseases, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM).

Based on the latest Philippine health statistics, the NCD burden in the Philippines has been steadily increasing over the last decade.  NCDs are now the leading cause of morbidity in the country, and mortality rates have been steadily rising in the last 35 years, with the greatest increases noted within the last two decades. In particular, the mortality trend from T2DM in the Philippines has been rising steadily, with 14.1, 25.5, and 27.2 deaths per 100,000 population in 2000, 2008, and 2013 respectively, as shown in Philippine Health Statistics data. The 2008 Philippine National Nutrition Survey also reported that prevalence rates for DM type 2 increased progressively from age 30 years and peaked among the age groups 50-59 and 60-69 years. The joint funders hope that collaborations between UK and Filipino researchers will increase capability for understanding and tackling the growing burden of T2DM.

Objectives and scope

  1. Communicable diseases of relevance to the Philippines, particularly on diseases that impact the most vulnerable in society, specifically
  • Influenza-like illness 
  • Chronic respiratory infections including Pneumonia
  • Leptospirosis
  • Sepsis
  • Hepatitis
  • Rabies
  • Zika virus

Areas of particular research interest within the infectious disease space include but are not limited to:
  • genomics and molecular technologies: for novel biomarker identification, with a focus on host and pathogen ‘omics and host-pathogen interactions
  • diagnostics: Development of cost effective, rapid diagnostic tools, utilizing off-patent/ lapsed and/or novel technologies. Specific topics include the following:
    • point of care
      • diagnostic test done at the time and place of patient care
    • screening / confirmatory /prognostic
      • screening to detect early disease or risk factors for disease
      • confirming the presence or absence of disease
      • prognosticating and to predicting the likely outcome of disease, susceptibility and chances of recovery
  • information and Communication Technology (ICT)/e-health: Development of user-friendly ICT solutions to accelerate the gathering and processing of health and related information for policymaking, and delivery of quality healthcare services
  1. non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs), specifically; Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Areas of particular research interest include but are not limited to:
  • use of animal models in identifying the genes responsible for development of or protection from the disease
  • studies on creation/ use of animal models for therapeutic trials
  • development of cost-effective biomedical devices for diagnosing, treatment, and/or management T2DM among Filipinos


Funding available

The total funding available for this call is as follows:

  • MRC -  up to £2 million pounds (Funding provided to the successful UK applicants)
  • PCHRD – up to £1.25 million pounds/ Php 80 million Pesos (Funding provided to the successful Filipino applicants)

Up to £650 thousand pounds will be available per partnership (up to£400K from UK and up to £250K/ Php 16 million Pesos from Philippines) to support activities for up to 3 years.

It is expected that this funding will support around 6 joint projects; up to 4 in Infectious Diseases and up to 2 in Diabetes Mellitus.

Applications will be required to have one UK Principal Investigator and one Filipino Principal Investigator. If appropriate, applications with industrial partners are welcomed (although no funding will be available to these partners).

Application and assessment process

Application process

For the initial stage of this joint call between UK and Filipino funders, submission of concept proposals will be through the MRC only. MRC will receive concept proposals, which will then be shared to PCHRD for eligibility checks.

UK applicants must submit concept proposals following the provided format, on behalf of their research team, to:  international@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk by 16:00 BST Tuesday 6 June 2017. 

Travel grants

Researchers with successful concept proposals will be invited to submit a full proposal. To enhance the quality of the partnership and support the development of high quality full stage proposals, MRC and PCHRD will be making travel grants (up to £3K) available for full proposal development. Only applicants from the shortlisted concept proposals will be invited to submit full proposals in October 2017. 


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 potential 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
  • Quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities
  • Value for money for Filipino and UK science
  • Ethical considerations and governance arrangements

In addition, applicants must describe how the proposed UK funded work is ODA compliant (approximately 150 words). This section will be made publicly available. For further information on ODA, please visit: http://www.newtonfund.ac.uk/about/what-is-oda/


Funding decision process for this Call will be the following:

  1. 6 June 2017: Concept proposal deadline. Concept proposals should be emailed to International@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk
  2. July 2017: Concept proposals will undergo Panel review facilitated by MRC and PCHRD
  3. July 2017: Successful applicants to be informed and travel grants released. Proponents from the shortlisted concept proposals will be asked to jointly develop full proposals
  4. October 2017: Joint applications (full proposal) will be received from the invited UK and Filipino PIs
  5. October 2017: MRC and PCHRD will carry out eligibility and internal checks and agree which proposals will go forward for technical review.
  6. November 2017 - January 2018: A joint peer review  will be conducted, including UK and Filipino academic reviewers (plus other international reviewers as appropriate) to assess merits of the proposals  and  provide funding recommendations to MRC and PCHRD
  7. Spring 2018: MRC and the DOST-PCHRD Governing Council will decide on final list of approved proposal, based recommendations made by the technical review panel.
  8. October 2018: Awards star

The Newton 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 website and follow via Twitter: @Newton Fund


Funding from the DOST will be provided by the DOST- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) is one of the three sectoral councils of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). It is a forward-looking, partnership-based national body responsible for coordinating and monitoring health research activities in the country. As the focal point for health research and development in the country, PCHRD is mandated to perform the following functions:  1.) Formulate policies, plans, programs, project, and strategies for health S&T development, 2.) Program and allocate government and external funds for R&D, 3.) Monitor R&D projects, and 4.) Generate external funds. PCHRD also serves as the Secretariat of the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS). For more information on PCHRD, please visit www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph.


For further information, UK applicants should contact: International@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

For further information, Filipino applicants should contact Jose J. Gepanaga jjgepanaga@pchrd.dost.gov.ph