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Official Development Assistance (ODA) update

Please note that MRC’s Applied Global Health Research Board has temporarily been suspended. Please refer to ODA review for further information.


The Applied Global Health Research Board supports research that will be of direct and primary benefit to the health of vulnerable populations living in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Applied research is defined as research seeking practical solutions to health challenges from late stage intervention development onwards. This includes implementation research, scale-up activities, health services research, health economics, health policy research, and research with a predominantly applied focus that does not fit within the remit of other MRC Boards and Panels.

We also welcome cross-sector research combining expertise to meet a global health challenge (such as, urban planning, health policy, and non-communicable disease research within a single proposal). The research question might involve different disciplines and approaches from outside of the health sector, but the primary objective must be health focused.

Applied research into understanding the effects of COVID-19 in LMICs will be funded through this board.

The resources requested should be commensurate with the objectives of the proposal. All sizes of applications, including large applications over £1 million - and small to medium scale applications. Value for money will be taken into account by the Board when assessing proposals.

Examples of areas in which applied research may be conducted include, but are not limited to, the following health topics and focus areas:

  • Maternal and neonatal health
  • Early childhood development
  • Adolescent health
  • Healthy ageing
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases, COVID-19
  • Non-communicable diseases, including mental health
  • Multimorbidity
  • Nutrition and food security
  • Snakebite
  • Intentional and unintentional injury
  • Urban health, including indoor/outdoor air pollution, road traffic accidents, and healthy housing
  • Planetary health
  • Informal settlements, conflict zones, and displaced populations
  • Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention
  • Detection and diagnostics
  • mHealth
  • Treatment, including surgery
  • Pain management and palliative care.

Three grant schemes are available through the Applied Global Health Research Board:

You must read the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the Applied Global Health Research Board (PDF, 385KB). This document provides details of our assessment criteria and how this funding opportunity differs from other MRC schemes.

  • Funding for the Applied Global Health Research Board forms part of the UK’s official development assistance commitment. Your proposal must show that your research is relevant and directly linked to near-term benefits to the health and economic development of the poorest and most vulnerable populations within low and middle income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic, Cooperation and Development’s development assistance countries list, except for India and China.

Capacity Building

We are committed to strengthening research capacity within Lower and middle income countries and the UK. We expect all grants funded through this Board to contribute to the development of equitable and sustainable global research systems.

If your outline proposal is successful, we will ask you to complete a capacity-building annex as part of your full submission. We encourage you to start discussing priorities as early as possible, in consultation with key stakeholders, both within and outside of your project team. For example, researchers, laboratory technicians, data collectors, field workers, managers, practitioners, policymakers and research management offices.

We will ask you to describe your long-term capacity building goals, as well as planned activities within your research project. We will assess your proposed approach to capacity building as part of the review process.

Find out more about the review process in the supplementary guidance for outline submissions to the Applied Global Health Research Board (PDF, 385KB).

  • Building leadership skills amongst early career researchers
  • Opportunities for mutual learning across the project team (such as through staff exchanges), for example, in the subject of the research, the context where it is being conducted, engagement with policy-makers and research management
  • Building capacity to working collaboratively, across disciplines and across practice-research boundaries (for example with policy-makers, managers and practitioners in the system)
  • Providing mentoring to improve the capacity of less experienced researchers to generate new knowledge and attain policy impact
  • Team members attending training courses to develop specific expertise or obtain relevant qualifications (excluding Masters and PhDs)
  • Opportunities for staff and associated health managers to author/co-author journal and conference papers and participate in national and international conferences
  • Building organisational capacity, (for example in management, finance or communications)
  • Formation of LMIC research networks.

Although New Investigator Research Grants (NIRGs) are not available through the Applied Global Health Research Board, we are committed to supporting early career researchers in applied global health. The board will consider each applicants career stage and proposed mentorship arrangements during funding decisions.

The following areas are outside of the Board's funding remit:

If your proposal includes health systems research or a late phase clinical trial, please contact the MRC to determine which scheme to apply to. If your proposal fits the remit of the FCDO/ESRC/MRC/Wellcome health systems research initiative or MRC-FCDO-Wellcome-National Institute for Health Research joint global health trials scheme, and there is an available funding call, you will be redirected to the above and your proposal may be rejected from the Applied Global Health Research Board.


We particularly encourage applications from principal investigators in LMICs, as well as principal investigators who are based in the UK and working in equal partnership with LMIC investigators.

If you are a LMIC principal investigator or co-investigator, you must be based at one of the following:

  • higher education institution
  • non-profit research institution
  • non-governmental organisation with sufficient research capacity to manage and deliver research.

Find out about eligibility requirements for research organisations and institutes.

You should check with your research office whether previous applications have been awarded by MRC or UKRI. If they have not, you should email us before you apply to check if you are eligible (international@mrc.ukri.org).

In exceptional circumstances it may be possible to include staff members of government ministries or intergovernmental organisations (e.g., WHO, World Bank) as named co-investigators rather than project partners, where a proportion of their time is spent working on the project. Inclusion of named government officials or intergovernmental organisation staff as co-investigators must be discussed and agreed with the relevant programme manager in advance of application, please contact: international@mrc.ukri.org.

Principal investigators cannot be based at institutions in China or India, but they can be named as co-investigators. Partnerships with co-investigators from China or India must have global or regional development impact as their main objective, with local or national impacts within China or India as secondary objectives. We expect international co-investigators from China and India will make a significant contribution to their own research costs, including covering their own overheads.

You must not be a principal investigator on more than two proposals submitted to the Board at any one time. You may support others as a co-investigator, as long as you have the capacity to do so without detriment to the project you are leading.

Researchers from high-income countries outside of the UK (and India and China) may be co-investigators provided their requested costs are not more than 30% of the proposal total project costs.

Applicants working in India or China who wish to apply are strongly advised to contact the office for guidance as early as possible please contact: international@mrc.ukri.org

Funding for the Board forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment. Applications must demonstrate the research to be primarily relevant and directly linked to near-term benefits to the health and economic development of the poorest and most vulnerable populations within LMICs, as defined by the OECD Development Assistance Countries (DAC) list except for India and China. Applications should articulate a clear and specific case for the relevance of the proposed research to these LMIC populations and identify and provide evidence that the proposed plan of research is informed by the needs of the LMIC.

Application process

We will assess your proposal in two stages:

  • Stage one - outline proposals are reviewed by independent Board members and MRC's Global Health Faculty of Experts.
  • Stage two - if your outline proposal is successful, we will invite you to submit a full application. This will undergo external peer review to inform the Board’s final decision.

If invited to the full submission stage, the assessment process will take around nine months from the outline proposal submission deadline to the final decision. Unsuccessful outline applicants will be notified within approximately three months of submission.

We will provide guidance on how to prepare a full proposal if you are successful at stage one, along with feedback from the initial review..

Board opportunities

Maternal and neonatal health

MRC’s work in this area is informed by the MRC-National Institute for Health Research overview of global maternal and neonatal health research priorities (PDF, 1.9MB).

Find out more about what we’re looking for in maternal and neonatal health research.

Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific application guidance.

Early childhood development

The board supports research in early childhood development, a critical period when health and education intersect. Proposals in this area will be co-funded by the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office as part of a coordinated effort to increase and scale up the evidence base for early childhood development interventions.

 Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific application guidance.

Adolescent health

Adolescent Health has been a recent focus of investment for MRC and Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (via the MRC-FCDO concordat) and the National Institute for Health Research, in partnership with ESRC.

Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific guidance.

Implementation science

Maximising impact from research remains a priority for the MRC. To ensure that this priority is met, we are funding research to address the implementation gap and progress interventions towards real world impact. This complements existing applied global health schemes addressing late-phase trials and health systems research, by providing a regular funding opportunity for research using robust implementation science approaches. We expect this research to ensure that evidence-based health interventions are implemented in an accessible and fair way for the poorest and most vulnerable populations living in LMICs.

Further information about this Board Opportunity, including specific application guidance.


If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal, or are unsure which Board to apply to, please contact the MRC International inbox (international@mrc.ukri.org) in the first instance. Your query will be routed to the relevant Programme Manager, who broadly cover the following areas:

Programme Manager for Global Health Challenges

Dr Philip Woodgate (Philip.Woodgate@mrc.ukri.org)

Including: Maternal and neonatal health, early child development, ageing, multimorbidity, , mental health, neurodegeneration.

Programme Manager for Global Health Strategy

Dr Caroline Harris (Caroline.Harris@mrc.ukri.org)

Including: Global health trials, implementation science, health systems research, , adolescent health, capacity building.

Programme Manager for Applied Global Health

Dr Hannah Boycott (hannah.boycott@mrc.ukri.org)

Including: non-communicable disease, infectious disease