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Previous MRC boards and panels GCRF funding

The MRC is committed to promoting the research boards and panels as channels through which internationally excellent research can be funded via GCRF. Applications that are eligible for ODA funding are encouraged to apply via this route.

Visit our application deadlines page to find out about the latest GCRF opportunities.

Population and Systems Medicine

Title: Lung function trajectories from birth to school age in African children, and their early life determinants

MR/S002359/1 - Professor Adnan Custovic - Imperial College London

Lung diseases are a major cause of ill health and premature death globally, with a particularly large burden in Africa. Low level of lung function in young adult age is an important risk factor for the development of COPD and early death from all causes. We will bring together leading UK and South African experts to investigate lung function trajectories in South African children from birth through age eight years and determine early life exposures which lead to the low lung function. We will build on the unique South African birth cohort of 1,000 mother-child pairs, with detailed measures of infectious diseases and non-infectious exposures through pregnancy and childhood, and longitudinal measurements of lung function and respiratory diseases from birth to age five years.  Our overall vision is to inform the development of intervention strategies to reduce the risk of low lung function trajectories during the growth phase, and prevent multi-organ morbidity and premature death in African populations.

Infections and Immunity

Title: Mechanisms underlying enhanced infection prophylaxis for advanced HIV in Africa

MR/P022251/1 - Dr Andrew Prendergast - Queen Mary University of London

One in 10 people starting HIV medicines with advanced disease die during the first months of treatment. In the REALITY trial in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi, we showed that a ‘bundle’ of five antibiotics significantly reduced mortality, but we need to understand whether all components of this antimicrobial bundle are required. We will use blood and stool samples from patients who died or survived to see if antibiotics prevented bloodstream or gut infections, or helped to reduce immune system exhaustion. This will allow us to refine the intervention bundle that will be taken to scale to reduce mortality.

Title: The mechanisms underlying the production of natural mosquito repellents by human beings

MR/P021972/1 - Professor James Logan - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine              

Understanding what makes some people less attractive to mosquitoes could pave the way for novel methods to prevent mosquito bites and control diseases such as malaria. Previous work showed that differential attractiveness to mosquitoes is due to variation in body odour and that differences are partly heritable. We aim to unravel the mechanisms underpinning the production of natural repellents by the human body and identify the genetic basis behind this phenomenon. To this end, we are working with twin volunteers from the UK and from The Gambia and are combining chemical analysis, behavioural ecology and existing genetic data.

Title: VACCINE: Development and evaluation of vectored vaccines for HCV using an enhanced gene expression technology in a novel rodent hepacivirus model

MR/P011128/1 - Professor Peter Simmonds - University of Oxford

Our MRC-funded project grant seeks to create the foundations for an effective vaccine for hepatitis C virus (HCV). This makes use of a unique combination of recent research developments that will facilitate HCV vaccine design. These include the development of powerful new vectors for vaccine delivery that enhance the strength and durability of immunity, and the development of a practical and appropriate small animal model for HCV in which efficacy of a range of different experimental vaccine formulations can be tested before going into human trial.

Large-scale vaccination offers the best hope of eradicating HCV infections worldwide. While there is antiviral treatment available, its cost and its use on at best a small minority of HCV-infected individuals means that this intervention has, to date, had little or no impact on the incidence and community spread of HCV, particularly in developing countries. The vaccine we hope to develop may offer both population level protective immunity but also be able to effectively treat existing infections and confer immunity from re-infection in risk groups for HCV infection that is needed for the ultimate eradication of HCV worldwide.

Title: MRC-FAPESP: New approaches to the treatment of Paracoccidioidomycosis

MR/S002340/1 - Professor Nicholas Gay - University of Cambridge         

Paracoccidioidomycosis is a debilitating infection caused by the fungus Paracoccinoides brasiliensis. It is the most frequent systemic endemic fungal disease acquired exclusively in Latin American countries. About 80% of the cases occur in Brazil and most of the remaining ones in Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina. The current treatments for paracoccidioidomycosis involve anti-fungal drugs that are toxic and only effective if taken for long periods of time. In this project, we will study how this pathogenic fungus evades detection by the immune system. Understanding immune evasion at the molecular level will allow us to carry out a screen to identify new candidate drugs that are more effective treatments for this important disease.

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Neurosciences and Mental Health

Title: MRC Strategic Award to establish an International Centre for Genomic Medicine in Neuromuscular Diseases

MR/S005021/1 - Professor Michael Hanna - University College London     

Our vision is to create a transcontinental genomics research and capacity building partnership between the UK with an initial focus on India, Brazil, South Africa, Zambia & Turkey. We will discover new disease genes, define the genetic variants in known neuromuscular genes, understand comparative genetic architecture in different populations and explore disease mechanisms. We will dramatically increase the number of patients with an accurate genetic diagnosis, build 'trial ready' cohorts and ultimately improve health outcomes for patients with this unmet health need drawn from a combined population of over 1.5 billion people. We will establish a new fellowship programme to develop outstanding PIs in each of partner centre to advance genetic diagnosis and therapy for neuromuscular diseases, which affect at least 17 million children and adults globally.

Molecular and Cellular Medicine

Title: Developing a cocktail of enzyme inhibitors to universally treat haemotoxicity caused by snakebite

MR/S00016X/1 - Dr Nicholas Casewell - Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

This project seeks to explore the potential of using enzyme inhibitors as alternative treatments for snakebite. Snakebite causes >100,000 deaths and around 400,000 cases of long-term morbidity each year, predominately in the rural poor regions of the tropics. Current treatment with antivenom (polyclonal antibodies) saves lives, but is restricted by snake species-specific efficacy, poor safety profiles and high cost. In this project, we will explore the potential utility of repurposing inexpensive enzyme inhibitors, previously proven to be safe in humans, as new snakebite therapies. Should such compounds be proven to be efficacious, the outcomes of this research have the potential to dramatically alleviate snakebite pathology in the tropical regions of the world.”

Skills and Careers

Title: The immunological basis of susceptibility to nontyphoidal Salmonella bacteraemia among HIV-infected adults in Uganda

Senior clinical fellowship 2016 - MR/P008852/1 - Professor Calman MacLennan - University of Oxford

HIV infection predisposes adults and children living in Africa to fatal bloodstream infections with nontyphoidal strains of Salmonella. Based in Oxford and Uganda, this fellowship project seeks to understand the immunological mechanisms responsible for the link between the two diseases and why antiretroviral therapy is not mitigating the Salmonella infections. These infections are endemic throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and the project has potential to impact all countries in this region. The findings of the study will guide development of vaccines that protect against Salmonella bloodstream infections, particularly for HIV-infected individuals. Such vaccines would save lives by averting invasive Salmonella infections.

Title: Maternal and Perinatal Health Research collaboration, India (MaatHRI): improving outcomes in pregnant women with iron deficiency anaemia

Career development award 2016 - MR/P022030/1 - Dr Manisha Nair - University of Oxford              

Maternal and perinatal Health Research collaborationIndia (MaatHRI) is a multi-centre collaboration between 15 hospitals in India and the University of Oxford led by Dr Manisha Nair. The aim is to create a large and diverse UK-India collaborative platform for large-scale epidemiological studies to improve maternal and perinatal health. This platform is currently being used to conduct research to improve the clinical management and outcomes of pregnant women with anaemia. The project aims to improve pregnancy care and health outcomes of mothers and babies in India and other low and middle income countries that have a high burden of maternal and infant death.

Translational research - Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme

Title: Development of a human challenge model of Leishmania major infection as a tool for assessing vaccines against leishmaniasis

MR/R014973/1 - Professor Paul Kaye - University of York

The leishmaniases affect approximately 150 million people in 98 countries worldwide, disproportionately affecting populations in low and middle income countries. Whilst an effective prophylactic vaccine would provide significant health and economic gains, the evaluation of novel candidate vaccines using clinical trials reliant on natural exposure is problematic, time consuming and costly. To overcome this bottleneck in vaccine development, we are working with partners in the Czech Republic and Israel to develop a Controlled Human Infection Model1 of cutaneous leishmaniasis using sand fly challenge. If successful, our CHIM study will accelerate clinical evaluation of candidate vaccines and ultimately, the lives of millions affected by leishmaniasis.

Professor Paul Kaye was a participant in a Controlled Human Infection Model Studies workshop at The Academy of Medical Sciences.

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