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Funding

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  

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 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:

  • Multimorbidity
    Not only does the growing prevalence of chronic diseases bring the added burden of multimorbidity, but it is increasingly recognised that some chronic diseases cluster together and may share common underlying mechanisms. The traditional ‘one disease, one mechanism’ approach to disease categorisation and the development of therapies targeted to narrow regulatory therapeutic indications becomes inefficient when it comes to managing multiple conditions. While PSMB supports the broad range of challenges posed by multiple long-term conditions, this Board Opportunity seeks to catalyse research on multimorbidity at all ages as a new field that identifies disease clusters and targets interventions according to shared mechanisms and underlying pathologies. An important element of this research involves studying clusters of conditions and the interactions between their trajectories throughout the life course; in this respect, this Board Opportunity aims to build upon MRC’s investments in longitudinal studies. PSMB will support research on multimorbidity that uses approaches ranging from population and experimental medicine studies to characterisation of models. PSMB particularly welcomes underpinning mechanistic studies that generate evidence in support of interventions that could successfully target multiple long-term conditions.
     
  • Rare diseases
    Despite being individually infrequent, each occurring in fewer than 1 in 2000 people, rare diseases collectively have a major health impact, affecting 1 in 17 people in their lifetime. This Board Opportunity aims to support the UK Rare Diseases Framework by encouraging research on rare diseases. Particular emphasis is on proposals likely to:
    • lead to better diagnosis and treatment, including development of advanced therapies for affected patients; and/or
    • yield mechanistic insights that extend beyond the particular rare disease being studied into fundamental human biology, or a wider range of pathologies/diseases; and/or
    • address cross-cutting issues that are hampering progress in multiple diseases/groups of diseases, for example platform approaches to the prioritisation or functional interpretation of genetic data.
    Suitable partnerships, including in the UK and internationally, with patient groups, health and care providers, research consortia, industry, and data resources, are encouraged.
     
  • Innovative data integration
    Since 2017, PSMB has supported ‘Integrated population health’ and as a result of this and other developments, significant advances have been made through the integrated analysis of large population datasets, e.g. combining genetic with metabolomic and phenotypic data. This Board Opportunity now seeks to extend this approach to support innovative data integration across methodologies and scales when it is required to address research questions. This might include (but is not limited to) analysis and modelling using existing or new data from multiple species, or ‘omics platforms, and/or from real-world, environmental, imaging, social and behavioural measurements. Responding to this opportunity is likely to involve interdisciplinary team science, so applications that include researchers from a wide range of disciplines are particularly welcome. This Board Opportunity also aims to maximise the impact of the MRC’s portfolio of large investments in population health science and build on our principles of data sharing and accessibility.
     
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 Ross King: ross.king@mrc.ukri.org

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

Programme Manager for Endocrinology and Cardiometabolic 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
  • Cardiovascular medicine
  • Microbiome

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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