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Strategic investments and partnerships (IIB)

The Infections and Immunity Board (IIB) provides support to strategic Institutes, Units, Centres and resources.


  • The Francis Crick Institute is a partnership with the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King’s College London and University College London. It is at the forefront of innovative biomedical research and promotes the translation of its research for maximal benefit.




  • The CLIMB-BIG-DATA project (Cloud Infrastructure for Big Data Microbial Bioinformatics) is a collaboration between Warwick, Birmingham, Cardiff, Swansea, Bath and Leicester Universities, the MRC Unit the Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Quadram Institute for Bioscience.
  • STOP-HCV Stratified Medicine Consortium, University of Oxford: Aims to use patient information to establish the most effective and cost-effective treatments for patients with Hepatitis C Virus.
  • The MRC International Statistics and Epidemiology Group based within the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has a mission to help improve health in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by conducting research that identifies and evaluates effective interventions.


IIB works with a large array of partners to prepare for and respond to infectious disease outbreaks and prosecute our immunology strategy. These include:

Strategic partnerships

  • FCDO-Concordat: For more than two decades the MRC and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) have had a Concordat agreement in place to support a jointly funded portfolio of biomedical and public health research tackling the priority health problems of poor people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Research themes for 2018-23 encompass priority areas in prevention and control of infections (HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, emerging infections and neglected tropical diseases); maternal and neonatal health; health of women and children, girls and adolescents and other disadvantaged groups; non-communicable diseases; public health and health services.
  • European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP): MRC is a member of this partnership, which aims to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines, microbicides and diagnostics against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria as well as other poverty-related infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on phase II and III clinical trials.
  • The Joint Programming Initiative in Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR): An EU-led initiative of global funders that support transnational research to combat AMR.
  • GloPID-R: MRC is a member of this global alliance of research funding organisations, which aims to facilitate a rapid, effective research response in the event of an infectious disease outbreak.
  • WHO Global Coordinating Mechanism for R&D for epidemic preparedness (GCM): The WHO Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint, of which the GCM is a part, is a global strategy and preparedness plan that aims to fast-track the availability of tests, vaccines and medicines to save lives and avert large scale crisis in pandemic outbreaks. It focuses on an annually reviewed set of priority diseases, for which there are no, or insufficient, countermeasures. It is generally agreed that preparedness and response, including the work of the Blueprint, would benefit from improved coordination and collaboration. The GCM is intended to fulfil this ambition for the Blueprint as well as other stakeholder-led initiatives. The MRC is a member, along with FCDO and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) from the UK.

Funding partnerships

  • UK Vaccine Network (UKVN): Launched in 2015, the network brings together industry, academia and funders to make targeted investments (£120m over 2016-21) in specific vaccines and vaccine technology for infectious diseases with epidemic potential. Led by DHSC supported by MRC and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) Initiative (£14.5m MRC, £88m total): The first initiative supported by all 7 research councils. It takes a multidisciplinary, themed approach to tackling the growing threat of antibacterial resistance.
  • Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS): Cross Council £20.5m supported by FCDO, BBSRC, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), MRC and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
  • IIB’s portfolio of human infectious diseases research includes awards made through several of MRC’s international funding calls. We led and supported several Newton Fund and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) initiatives, often in partnership with our sister councils. Both funds formed part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. Recent highlights include:
    • UK-Vietnam Partnerships for Infectious Diseases Newton Call 2 (£2.75m total): A second call between MRC and the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology.
    • GCRF Infections Foundation Awards (£7.6m MRC, £10.9m total): Joint call with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), BBSRC, ESRC and NERC. Supported 21 projects with potential to rapidly advance novel infectious disease Global Health discovery and translation research.
    • GCRF Vector Borne Disease (VBD) Networks (£1.8m MRC, £5.3m total): BBSRC-led joint call with MRC and NERC, supported four interdisciplinary networks addressing challenges relating to VBD of plants, animals and humans.
    • GCRF Vaccines R&D Networks (£6.4m MRC, £9.4m total): MRC-led joint call with BBSRC, established five collaborative networks in vaccine R&D targeting LMIC priority diseases integrating basic immunology and pathogen biology with vaccinology.