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Research grant

What is a research grant?

MRC research grants are suitable for focused research projects that may be short- or long-term in nature. In addition, they can be used to support method development or development and continuation of research facilities and may involve more than one research group or institution.

A research grant can be awarded for any period of up to five years, but those of two years or less are for proof of principle work only. Proof of principle proposals are expected to support high-risk/high-reward research by critically testing a key hypothesis and/or demonstrating feasibility of an approach that could lead to fundamentally new avenues of research. All work proposed would need to be fully justified. Applications seeking support of greater than three years should provide a clear justification as to why a longer timescale is needed, for example due to specific research deliverables, or the need for prolonged data collection or follow-up.

The budget for research grant awards will not typically exceed £1 million.

Research grants do not cover programmatic approaches or research involving randomised trials of clinical treatments. If your proposed research will lead directly to a separately funded clinical trial, please contact an MRC research board manager to discuss its eligibility.

The proposal success rates page shows the number of research grants awarded each year.

Who can apply?

Any UK-based researcher who can demonstrate that they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in carrying it through.

The minimum academic qualification required is a graduate degree, although usually a PhD is required. Less experienced researchers should apply in collaboration with a more senior colleague.

The applicant(s) must demonstrate that they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in the work.

Applications can include an industry partner(s). Applicants with an industrial partner(s) will need to include MICA: as a prefix to their project title, complete the Project Partner section in Je-S and submit a MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) Form and Heads of Terms as part of their Je-S application.

Please refer to the MRC web site for further guidance on MICAs.

Financial support

Under the research grant scheme you may request support for a period of up to five years, which can include:

  • The salary of the principal investigator and co-investigators
  • Support for additional posts - research, technical or other consumables
  • Equipment
  • Travel costs
  • Data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs.

The MRC will usually 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 that the MRC does not provide funding for use as a ‘bridge’ between grants under any of its grant schemes.

Costs for PhD studentships cannot be requested within MRC research or programme grants.

How to apply

If you are unsure who to contact please contact our Research Funding Policy & Delivery Team. Email: RFPD@Headoffice.mrc.ac.uk or tel: 01793 416440.

  • You may also wish to look through our highlight notices to see if your proposed research falls within any of the MRC’s scientific priority areas and if so to highlight this in your proposal.
  • Read the MRC guidance for applicants, which will guide you through preparing a proposal, including eligibility, case for support, costing your proposal and any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research. Please also ensure that you read the terms and conditions governing MRC grants.
  • Your completed proposal must be submitted through the Research Council Je-S (joint electronic submission) system.
  • To ensure that your application reaches us in time, please give your administrative department at least two weeks’ notice of your application and the MRC Research Board deadline date.

Application deadlines are usually in January, May and September. All proposals are assessed by external experts before they are considered by the MRC research boards at their meetings in May/June, October/November and February/March.

Your proposal must be submitted through the MRC Je-S system by 4pm on the relevant research board's deadline date.

Assessment procedure

Your proposal will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts from the UK and overseas.

Reviews are based around three core criteria:

Importance: how important are the questions, or gaps in knowledge, that are being addressed?

Scientific potential: what are the prospects for good scientific progress?

Resources requested: are the funds requested essential for the work, and do the importance and scientific potential justify funding on the scale requested?

More information on peer review at the MRC can be found here