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Our science and contacts (IIB)

The infections and immunity board funds research into infectious human disease and disorders of the human immune system. The Board seeks to support a diverse portfolio of research of relevance to the UK and globally. In addition, the Board’s portfolio seeks to address both long-standing questions and support the investigation of emergent higher risk opportunities.

The Board welcomes submissions on:

  • Discovery research relating to human pathogens, pathogenicity, antimicrobial resistance, host pathogen responses including inflammation and the development function and disorders of the immune system where this informs mechanism of disease. Immune disease including allergy (except asthma and other organ-based disorders), transplantation immunology, systemic immune disorders & auto-immune disease. Including use of in silico systems, relevant animal models and experimental studies in humans throughout the lifecourse.
  • Population-level research, using epidemiological, genetic and ‘omic approaches, and computational modelling, to elucidate disease risks, aetiologies and progression, and to understand the evolution of pathogen populations and epidemic preparedness.
  • Research to inform novel strategies for preventing and controlling infectious and immune disease, including vector control, predictive modelling and early development research to inform future intervention strategies including vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

For applications for fellowships please refer to our Fellowships page. For studies undertaking the development, validation or evaluation of new products/interventions please see our Translational research and Global health funding partnerships pages.

All applications for funding of new or existing longitudinal population studies are required to submit an outline application for joint review by the Longitudinal Population Studies Strategic Advisory Panel (LPS-SAP; previously the Cohort Strategic Review Group) and the Research Board. Should a full application be invited, this may be submitted to any of the three subsequent Board deadlines. This review will take account of both strategic and scientific considerations.

Please note that applications for longitudinal population studies must be for core infrastructure only; applications may include associated research only if it is for proof of principle work. Applicants must speak to the relevant Programme Manager at least 6 weeks before the outline submission deadline to confirm the eligibility of their application. The outline template, timeline for review and next outline submission deadline can be found on the LPS-SAP page. Applications for funding for clinical (i.e. patient-specific or disease-focused) cohorts are exempt from this process.

Board opportunities

The Board has identified key challenges that can only be met with a more integrated approach across our portfolio. These form current Board opportunity areas, which will be used by IIB to prioritise investments during funding discussions, together with the three cross-Board opportunities. We encourage researchers to submit applications that focus on:

  • Antimicrobial Resistance

    Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an important global health challenge and a priority for the MRC. While discovery research to better understand pathogen virulence and identify targets for new prevention strategies, diagnostics and therapies is well represented in our portfolio, there is a risk that these discoveries are not taken forward to deliver impact to patients. To address this issue, IIB will prioritise interdisciplinary approaches developing new interventions to contain, control and mitigate AMR in bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.

  • Data integration and systems approaches – from data to insight

    Novel insights can be gleaned through appropriate linkage of data across different dimensions (‘omic, single-cell, cell populations, organ systems, individuals, populations, countries, etc.). This requires engagement with bioinformaticians and statisticians during the conceptualisation phase, to formulate compelling research questions and to develop integrative approaches with the potential for significant insight. These insights can be built upon using a systems approach of iterative cycles of modelling and experimentation.

  • Global health and research underpinning epidemic preparedness

    The Board seeks to:

    • Maintain the momentum generated through the GCRF Infections Foundation Awards, the Zika Rapid Response Initiative and our support for Networks in vector borne disease and vaccines R&D, through follow-on submissions made from projects and networks supported by these initiatives.
    • Enhance research underpinning epidemic preparedness, such as, but not limited to, relevant research into internationally recognised priority pathogens, for example, those on the WHO R&D Blueprint and UK Vaccine Network lists and non-seasonal influenza.
  • Immunity and infection through the life course

    To further develop the Board’s portfolio of studies on how immune status and infection can contribute to disease and to link with the interests of sister Boards (c.f. mental health and neurodegeneration, NMHB; asthma, PSMB; cancer, MCMB), submissions examining the driving causative linkages between immune status/infection and disease.

    The Board expects to retain its opportunities for at least three years, although they will be assessed each year and individually may be refreshed in line with developments. Applicants are expected to justify how their proposed research addresses an opportunity.

Cross-board areas

In addition to the Board opportunities, IIB will prioritise for consideration submissions that meet the criteria of MRC-wide opportunities, which apply to all Boards. These are:

  • New Investigator Research Grants - supporting researchers towards becoming independent investigators.
  • Experimental medicine - understanding disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets using human participants.
  • Advanced therapeutics - including cell/gene therapy, regenerative medicine, innovative medicines.

IIB also supports research areas identified by the MRC as a high priority:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CSF/ME) research (see more information on CSF/ME at our Board pages).

Details on how applications that fall into the scope of the Board or cross-Board opportunity areas are assessed during the review process, is explained in the Ranking section of our Funding meetings page.

Science contacts

If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal, or a remit question regarding which Board or scheme your proposal should be assessed by, please contact the programme manager shown below against your scientific area:

Programme Manager for Immunology

Dr Charly Oakley – Charly.Oakley@mrc.ukri.org

  • Normal immunology, including cellular and molecular immunology and inflammation (except inflammation associated with a specific disease)
  • Immune disease, including allergy (except asthma, IBD/Crohn’s disease, and other organ-specific disorders), transplantation immunology, the ageing immune system, systemic immune disorders, immune-oncology and auto-immune disease

Programme Manager for Viral response

Dr Claire De-May - Claire.De-May@mrc.ukri.org

  • Host response to viral disease
  • COVID-19 funding and infrastructure

Programme Manager for Bacteriology, Mycology and Antimicrobial Resistance

Dr Carolyn Johnson - Carolyn.Johnson@mrc.ukri.org

  • Basic, applied and translational bacteriology and mycology that informs the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and mechanism of human disease.
  • Transmission, control and host response to bacteria and fungal infection
  • Research to investigate, mitigate and prevent the development of antimicrobial resistance and to promote the development of new therapies and interventions

Programme Manager for Parasitology

Dr Emily Brown - Emily.Brown@mrc.ukri.org

  • Basic, applied and translational parasitology that informs the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and mechanism of human disease.
  • Transmission, control and host response to parasitic infectious agents, including research into vector control of human infections.
  • Snakebite / podoconiosis.

Programme Manager for Virology and Vaccinology

Dr Charlotte Hall - Charlotte.Hall@mrc.ukri.org

  • Basic, applied and translational virology that informs the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and mechanism of human disease.
  • Transmission and control of viral infectious agents.
  • Vaccine research

Other Contacts

Head of Programme – Epidemic Preparedness

Dr Anna Kinsey – Anna.Kinsey@mrc.ukri.org

Oversight of IIB meetings and strategic lead for epidemic preparedness – spanning infection prediction, prevention and control, population protection, outbreak investigation, and preparation for rapid, internationally coordinated responses to emergent epidemics.

Head of Infections and Immunity

Dr Steve Oakeshott – Stephen.Oakeshott@mrc.ukri.org

Methodology and clinical research

The MRC supports methodology research through the MRC-NIHR Better Methods, Better Research programme.  Please contact Dr Samuel Rowley for further information -  Samuel.Rowley@mrc.ukri.org

General policy and eligibility enquiries

For specific IIB enquiries please contact: IIB@mrc.ukri.org

For general queries about MRC policy and eligibility please contact Research Funding Policy and Delivery team: RFPD@mrc.ukri.org

Je-S submission

For queries about submitting your application using the online, electronic submissions system, Je-S, please contact the Je-S Helpdesk, or 01793 444164

Peer review

  • If you have a query about the peer review of a research proposal, either as an applicant, reviewer or Board/Panel member, please contact PeerReview@mrc.ukri.org