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Global Challenges Research Fund

GCRF logo

The Government Spending Review on 25 November 2015 announced “a new £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), to ensure UK science takes the lead in addressing the challenges faced by developing countries, whilst developing our ability to deliver cutting-edge research”. It operates across a number of partners, including research councils and national academies.

Each Council has received a directly allocated portion of the GCRF with a further portion of the funding being managed as a Collective Fund across the  Councils. Further details on the strategy and initiatives associated with the Collective Fund will be announced in due course on the UK Research and Innovation website.

MRC Global Strategy

Aim 3 of the MRC Strategic Plan is about Going Global, accelerating progress in international health research. The key objectives are:

  • to be able to provide international leadership in partnerships which enhance the competitiveness of the UK knowledge and health base;
  • to influence the international research agenda; and
  • to support global health research that addresses the inequalities in health which arise particularly in developing countries.

MRC and the GCRF

The MRC has a strong history of supporting global health research and of working with other funders in the UK and internationally.  The launch of the GCRF in 2016 has created new opportunities for the  Councils and researchers to further grow and diversify our contribution.

Beyond participation in the UKRI Collective Fund, MRC’s activities under the GCRF have so far included:

Global infections - Vision and strategy 2016 

Our strategy (PDF, 77KB) is to reduce the risk and burden of global infectious diseases, the MRC, working with partner councils, have launched a series of activities to harness and develop UK research strengths.

Phase I - A Foundation Call in Global Infectious Diseases: aimed to enhance the capability of groups to widen their research scope to tackle global infections of relevance to developing countries. This MRC led call, with contributions from AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC and NERC, will support teams in taking an immediate, short term, value-adding step towards global transformative change

Phase II - Build new capacity in strategically important sectors, with initial calls in vector biology (led by BBSRC, with MRC and potential other funder support) and vaccine R&D (aligned to the MRC, BBSRC and Department of Health UK Vaccines R&D network)

  • Catalyse the development of large scale global inter-disciplinary teams in anti-bacterial resistance (building on the cross-council AMR initiative), drawing on the experience of previous cross-council programmes such as Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases and Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems

Non-communicable diseases

Non-communicable diseases represent a major health challenge in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Over the last five years the UK research effort in non-communicable disease and health systems in LMICs has developed rapidly, but is still on a relatively small scale (for MRC it represents less than 25% of the global health portfolio). To catalyse further change to meet the emerging challenge we now need to increase the breadth and scale of UK research, and widen our international partnerships. A more complete global research approach to non-communicable disease will benefit research in developed countries as well as LMICs. Understanding wider and more extreme variation in diet, in environment, or in early life; and a more complete understanding of human biological social and cultural variability, will give new insights into universal processes in human health and disease

Phase I - The Foundation Call in Global Health Science – Beyond Infection

The aim was to support new research in any area of health. There are no areas of global NCD research which are so well developed that they are a lower priority for new funding. This MRC led call, with contributions from AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC and NERC, would support teams in taking an immediate, short term, value-adding step towards global transformative change

Phase II Pump-priming GCRF Mental Health and Nutrition

These two initiatives are part of our suite of activities under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The research supported through this funding opportunity contributes to the UK’s commitment to research for the benefit of Low and Middle Income Countries.

The purpose of these funding opportunities was to provide pump-priming funds that would lay the grounds for future large scale, multidisciplinary, cross-country global health research bids to address issues that are primarily relevant to LMICs. These funds provided an opportunity to define research questions, assess the viability of proposed approaches and the feasibility of collaborations with LMIC research institutions. It was expected that awardees would use preliminary data and established partnerships to inform more substantive research opportunities in 2018.

Increasing support for Global Health research in response mode:

You are also strongly encouraged to apply within one of our science areas through the response mode funding schemes. 

For further information on please refer to Increase support for Global Health research in response mode


Latest GCRF funding opportunities

For all UKRI open calls and recent announcements refer to UKRI's GCRF page.