- What is a Programme grant?
- Who can apply?
- Financial support
- How to apply
- Creating the application in Je-S
- Assessment of applications
Programme grants provide larger, longer term (five years) and renewable programme funding. They aim to help the medical science community to ‘think bigger’. A programme is defined as a coordinated and coherent group of related projects, which may be developed to address an inter-related set of questions across a broad scientific area.
The expectation is that not all the questions will necessarily be answered within the tenure of the award. Parts of the programme may well be a continuation of current activity; however, other elements should be innovative and ambitious.
Programmes are a substantial investment for the MRC so due consideration to MRC strategy should also be evident.
A: It is expected that Programme grants will be five years in duration. In exceptional cases, Programme grants may be awarded for less than five years and, indeed, research grants for longer than four years.
We will consider proposals for Programme grants from any researcher who can demonstrate they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in carrying it through. By the time the grant starts, the Principal Investigator (PI) must be based in the UK at the eligible research organisation at which the grant will be administered (the lead organisation). The PI must have a verified joint electronic-submission system (Je-S) account to apply.
The minimum formal qualification required is a graduate degree, though most applicants are also expected to have a PhD. For Programme grants the PI should have a substantial record of successfully securing research funding and delivering high quality research.
Programme grants will usually (though not always) be based within an academic institution which has the variety of expertise and disciplines to undertake the programme.
MRC institutes are not eligible to apply. Core supported programme/group leaders from MRC units and the Francis Crick Institute may only apply in exceptional circumstances with prior agreement from MRC Head Office.
A: Only in exceptional circumstances. We would not normally expect anyone to be the PI on more than one MRC Programme grant, this includes programme leaders at MRC units and institutes.
A: Yes, the MRC recognises the value that such partnerships can bring. For more information please refer to our guidance on MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA).
A: Where a PI is due to retire before the grant has ended the grant must also include details of a replacement for the remaining period and costs included for them for the required period. For more information please refer to section 220.127.116.11 of the MRC guidance for applicants.
Under the Programme grant scheme you may request support for a period of five years, which can include:
- A portion of the salaries of the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators
- Additional posts (research and technical)
- Travel costs
- Data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs
Following standard practice, the MRC will fund on the basis of 80 per cent of the full economic cost of your research to your institution. Your proposal must show 100 per cent of the full economic cost throughout. Please note guidance on funding for equipment in section 18.104.22.168 of the MRC guidance for applicants.
Costs for PhD studentships cannot be requested within MRC Programme grants. Please refer to our pages on studentships for further information.
The standard for Programme grants is extremely competitive and it is important that applicants discuss their proposals with appropriate staff at MRC Head Office.
Outline applications are no longer necessary but you must contact the Programme Manager of the relevant MRC research board to confirm whether your application fits the scheme. This mandatory step applies to all new Programme grant applications and must be completed at least 6 weeks before the submission deadline.
Please select the appropriate Board to navigate to the correct remit and scope page:
- Infections & Immunity
- Molecular & Cellular Medicine
- Neurosciences & Mental Health
- Population & Systems Medicine
When contacting the Programme Manager we ask that you send a case containing a brief description of the proposal by email. The case should be a maximum 2 pages, plus 1 page of references, and include:
− The title of potential MRC programme
− A list of the PI and Co-Is and their affiliations
− A list of collaborators (if known at this stage)
− A high level indication of the likely cost to the MRC
At this stage the case should address the following questions on suitability for a programme grant, strategic fit and case for a major investment:
- Is the proposed work a “programme” ie a coordinated and coherent group of related projects which may be to answer an interrelated set of questions on a broad format?
- Does the work require long term and extensive support?
- Is the proposed work in an MRC area of high strategic priority?
- Is there a case for a major investment in the context of the Board portfolio and budget?
- From the applicant’s track record of research, do they have the potential to successfully manage and deliver a major research programme?
The MRC does not expect the initial case to contain detailed research proposals; however this scheme does require that the applicant states clearly the aims of the proposal.
Applicants should also attach a CV containing key publications for the PI and Co-Is (maximum 2 pages, plus 1 page for key publications). In addition they should also attach a succinct summary of the PI’s funding history. Attention will be paid to the PI’s track record of research and potential to successfully manage and deliver a major research programme.
Applicants wishing to renew their Programme grant should contact the Programme Manager of the relevant MRC research board during year 4 of the programme to discuss this further (see below for more information on renewing Programme grants).
Full Application Stage (new applications and renewals)
Applicants invited to complete a full application via Je-S will be notified in advance of the relevant research board deadline. New applications should include a cover letter that confirms the name of the Programme Manager who agreed that an application could be submitted; for renewals the cover letter should confirm the details of the original award.
Applicants should read section 2 of the MRC guidance for applicants for information on how to complete the proposal form. If the Programme grant will involve a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) then applicants will need to comply with MRC guidance on MICAs.
Case for support
The table below list specific points that should be addressed when writing the case for support for Programme grants but should be read in conjunction with the general guidance in section 2.4 of the MRC guidance for applicants.
This guidance should also be read in conjunction with the information on the assessment criteria (see below), which provides detailed information on what reviewers and research boards are looking for. Each proposal is unique, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all the reasonable questions that the referees and MRC research boards need to address are answered in the proposal, especially if the plan or resources are unusual or complex.
The case for support for full Programme grant applications should consist of no more than 12 pages, including references, and should be completed in Arial 11 pt typescript with a 2cm margin on all sides.
|Title||The title of potential MRC programme|
|Ethics and research governance||Please follow the guidance in section 2.4.3 of the MRC guidance for applicants (case for support content)|
|Exploitation and dissemination||Please follow the guidance in section 2.4.3 of the MRC guidance for applicants (case for support content)|
|Management||Provide a simple explanation of how the programme will be managed|
Programme Grant renewals: additional requirements
Renewal applications must be accompanied with a progress report. This report should be structured using a defined set of headings (see below) and completed in a sans-serif typeface (Arial or equivalent, not Arial Narrow) and font size of 11 pt. Margins must not be less than 2cm.
- Summary (not exceeding 250 words)
- Progress (no more than five pages)
- Describe progress made against original aims and objectives since the grant was awarded/since the last report
- If progress has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic please explain this.
- Please note any unpublished data must be included in the case for support
- Describe progress made against original aims and objectives since the grant was awarded/since the last report
The progress report should be accompanied by a list of publications arising from the work (with web links to those papers if available) and a list of staff employed on the grant during its present tenure.
The office can alert referees/board & panel members to papers in press/accepted that cannot be accessed. These can be lodged with the office and provided on request. Preprints may be included in publication lists.
Please attach a PDF file of the progress report to your Je-S application as a ‘Final/Interim Report’ type of attachment.
The guidance below on creating a Programme grant application in Je-S should be read in conjunction with the general guidance on how to apply in section 1.6 of the MRC guidance for applicants.
Login to your Je-S account using the username and password you have chosen via the Je-S login page. If you do not have a Je-S account, or have forgotten your password, please contact the Je-S Helpdesk (see below for contact details).
- Select ‘Documents’ from the left hand menu list from your account home page
- Select ‘New Document’ from within the Functions/create section of your documents page
- Select Council: MRC
- Select Document Type: Standard Proposal
- Select Scheme: Research Grant
- Select Call (Optional): Research Boards Month/Month Year Submissions
To indicate that your Je-S proposal form is a ‘Partnership Grant’:
- Navigate down the list of ‘Document Menu’ items and select the ‘Grant Type’ section
- Select ‘Programme Grant’ and then select the ‘Save’ option near the top of the electronic application form.
If you require assistance either accessing Je-S or completing the Je-S application, please contact the Je-S Helpdesk, which is the first point of contact for the research councils.
Phone: +44 (0) 1793 44 4164
The Je-S Helpdesk is staffed Monday to Friday 8.30am - 5pm (excluding bank holidays and other holidays).
Your proposal will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts from the UK and overseas. More information on peer review at the MRC can be found on the peer review page.
Reviews are based around three core criteria: importance, scientific potential and resources requested. Before applying for a Programme grant, consider each of the specific criteria below to ensure that your application fully addresses each of these areas. Consider whether you, your co-applicants and your research environment fulfil the required criteria before deciding to apply.
Failure to address any of the criteria sufficiently in your application could result in an early stage rejection.
Research Environment and People
Data Management Plan
MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA)
Any research proposal involving a collaboration with one or more industrial partners (contributing either in cash or in kind) is handled by MRC as a MICA. All MICA proposals will be identifiable to reviewers as they will have the word ‘MICA’ at the start of the project title.
If you have a query about scientific aspects of your proposal please contact the relevant MRC Programme Manager. Contact details can be found on the appropriate Research Board’s remit and scope pages (please see the ‘related content’ section on the top right of this page).
To discuss your eligibility or any other non-scientific queries please contact Research Funding Policy and Delivery:
Tel: 01793 416440