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Our science and contacts (PSMB)

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PSMB supports mechanistic and applied research to unlock the complexity of human health and disease across the life course. Its remit also encompasses population health and the impact of environmental factors, including the social environment. The PSMB scope includes the following areas:

  • Cardiovascular 
  • Respiratory 
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Renal 
  • Gastroenterology
  • Endocrinology and reproductive health
  • Maternal health and the early origins of health and disease
  • Nutrition, metabolic regulation, diabetes and obesity
  • Trauma, acute medicine and surgery
  • Inflammation in relation to disease processes and the resolution of the inflammatory response
  • Medical sociology
  • Lifestyle, socio-economic and behavioural impacts on health
  • Health inequalities
  • Population and disease-related cohorts  

Please, note that all applications for funding for new or existing population cohort studies are required to submit an outline for assessment by the Cohort Strategic Review Group (CSRG). Applications for funding for clinical (i.e. patient specific or disease-focused) cohorts need not follow this process).

Board opportunity areas

While continuing to support research that focuses on key organs and systems, as well as on population-based research, PSMB has identified key challenges that can only be met with a more integrated approach across our portfolio. These new emerging directions of research form our current Board opportunity areas, and we encourage the research community to submit applications that focus on:

  • Multimorbidities
    The growing burden of chronic disease brings the added challenge of co- and multi-morbidities. The study of multimorbidities in common disease areas and in ageing populations (who are particularly susceptible to polypharmacy-related issues) provides the opportunity to build a broad, bottom-up approach - breaking down the silos of specific disease areas through experimental medicine approaches but also taking a populations approach to provide the preliminary data for such experimental medicine studies. Addressing the complexity of multimorbidities requires integration of data from   multiple sources (e.g. primary care, health informatics, prescription, experimental studies) 
  • Mechanisms and models of human diseases 
    As well as discovering new therapies for debilitating diseases, the study of rare genetic diseases provides an opportunity for mechanistic insight into more common diseases which can, in turn, provide huge benefits for human health. Improvements in technology and a greater understanding of gene therapy approaches provide an opportunity for translation to new therapies and partnership with industry. Involving patients in the delivery of this research is essential, and PSMB is actively engaging with the charity sector to support this work.
  • Integrated population health
    The Board encourages broad multi-faceted approaches to problem-based research questions. Multimodal data integration from different sources – for example, genetics with metabolomics, data from animal and human studies – capitalises on technological advances in computational studies and ways to acquire, analyse and curate big data. This opens new ways to conduct multidisciplinary team science and may become a key driver of exciting advances in health sciences. The stimulation of research questions through interrogating big data is an essential link to the MRC Partnership Institute Health Data Research UK.
In addition to the Board opportunities, PSMB will prioritise for consideration submissions that meet the criteria of MRC-wide opportunities, which apply to all Boards:
  • 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.

Opportunity areas are assessed each year and individually may be refreshed in line with developments. Once new areas are identified they are expected to be retained for at least 3 years.

Details on how applications that fall into the scope of the Board or cross-Board opportunity areas are assess ed during the review process are explained at our Peer Review webpages.

Cross-Board research areas
PSMB also supports research in cross-board areas identified by the MRC as a high priority, with a current highlight notice:

The new PSMB opportunities sit alongside an ongoing opportunity in nutrition research (including links with global nutrition and NCDs). The MRC has identified three areas of urgent activity in order to revitalise nutrition research: build the UK research base; tackle global nutrition challenges; and work with  a range of stakeholders such as the food industry to improve nutrition and health. This follows a review of nutrition and human health research (PDF, 3.00MB) which the MRC conducted in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research. Read more information on the MRC priorities in nutrition and the Mechanistic research in nutrition.

Science contacts

If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal, please contact the programme manager shown below against your scientific area:

Programme Manager for Systems Medicine

Dr Tamsyn Derrick: tamsyn.derrick@mrc.ukri.org  

  • Population sciences and public health research utilising a “systems approach” and with generic health relevance including:
    • Longitudinal, population studies and cohorts, applications using ‘big’ data and data linkage
    • Socioeconomic impacts on health, health inequalities
    • The effects of lifestyle and behaviour on health outcomes
    • Maternal health and wellbeing, childbirth (excluding reproductive health/endocrinology)
  • Respiratory medicine (excluding lung cancer)

Programme Manager for Experimental Medicine and Clinical Sciences 

Dr Richard Evans: richard.evans@mrc.ukri.org

  • Precision medicine
  • Molecular pathology, tissue banking, dermatology
  • Experimental medicine, including existing Experimental Medicine Challenge Grants (please note that applications using experimental medicine approaches can be submitted in any of MRC’s science areas)
  • Rare diseases 
  • Inflammation (in relation to organ-specific disease processes), resolution of inflammatory response

Programme Manager for Nutrition and Gastroenterology

Dr Karen Finney: karen.finney@mrc.ukri.org

  • Nutrition (UK and global)
  • Obesity (where diet and food intake is being measured)
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatic function and disease

Programme Manager for Life Course and Ageing

Dr Richard Threlfall: richard.threlfall@mrc.ukri.org

  • Musculoskeletal health (including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, dentistry)
  • Trauma
  • Early origins of adult disease, paediatrics and child health (including foetal development)
  • Ageing

Programme Manager for Endocrinology and Metabolic Medicine

Dr Andrew Crawford: andrew.crawford@mrc.ukri.org

  • Metabolic medicine (including diabetes)
  • Obesity (with focus on cellular and molecular aspects)
  • Endocrine function and disease
  • Reproductive health
  • Microbiome

Programme Manager for Cardiovascular and Renal Medicine

Dr Ross King: ross.king@mrc.ukri.org

  • Cardiovascular medicine
  • Renal function and disease

Science Manager for Multimorbidity

Dr Jane Strom: jane.strom@mrc.ukri.org

Board Secretary and Lead on Multimorbidity

Dr Ivan Pavlov: ivan.pavlov@mrc.ukri.org

Head of Population & Systems Medicine

Dr Joanna Robinson: joanna.robinson@mrc.ukri.org

Other contacts

If you have a query about methodology research, please contact Dr Sam Rowley: samuel.rowley@mrc.ukri.org.

For general enquiries please contact PSMB@mrc.ukri.org.

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.

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