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Global issues from health to humanitarian crises to be tackled in ambitious research programme

21 Jul 2017

Leading experts from the UK and in developing countries across the world are joining forces to tackle some of the most serious global challenges in a new multi-disciplinary research programme launched today.

In one of the most ambitious international research programmes ever created, £225 Million has been invested across 37 interdisciplinary projects overseen by the Research Councils UK, including the MRC. The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Councils UK Collective Fund is supporting projects in the range of £2 – 8 million over four years.

The projects aim to address challenges in fields such as health, humanitarian crises, conflict, the environment, the economy, domestic violence, society, and technology. 

It aims to build upon research knowledge in the UK, and strengthen capacity overseas, to help address challenges, informed by expressed need in the developing countries.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding today highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.

“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.”  

Projects consist of UK and developing-country researchers, working together as equal partners - for full list of projects see the Growing research capability to meet the challenges faced by developing countries brochure. Projects led by the MRC include:

  • GCRF-Crick African Network, led by Professor Robert Wilkinson, The Francis Crick Institute
  • Increasing eye research capacity and capabilities to tackle the burden of blindness in India, led by Professor Sobha Sivaprasad, Moorfields Eye Hosp NHS Foundation Trust
  • Partnership for increasing the impact of vector control, led by Professor Hilary Ranson, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • Improving pregnancy care across sub-Saharan Africa, led by Professor Peter von Dadelszen, St George's University of London
  • Assisting Bangladesh in lifestyle and environmental risk reduction, led by Professor John Danesh, University of Cambridge.
  • Reducing tobacco-related harm in low and middle income countries, led by Professor Linda Bauld, University of Stirling
  • South Asia self-harm research capability building initiative, led by Professor Catherine Robinson, Bangor University
  • A global network for neglected tropical diseases, led by Professor Graham Sandford, Durham University
  • Ensure value for money health care – developing theory, changing practice, led by Professor Mark Sculpher, University of York

Andrew Thompson, RCUK GCRF Champion, said: “The 37 projects announced today build research capacity both here in the UK and in developing countries to address systemic development challenges,  from African agriculture to sustainable cities, clean oceans, and green energy, to improved healthcare, food security, and gender equality.

"The ambition is to lay the foundations for a sustained and targeted research effort to address the most intractable challenges faced by the world today, climate change, disease and epidemics, food insecurity, rapid urbanisation, and forced displacement and protracted conflict.”

Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive designate of UK Research and Innovation, said: “In the same way that facing these global challenges requires a multi-national response, finding the solutions to them requires researchers from many disciplines to work together. The Global Challenges Research Fund makes that possible, and means that the UK’s world-leading researchers are able to get on with the job of working with each other and partners across the globe to make the world and society more sustainable.”


  • Categories: Funding
  • Health categories: Eye, Infection, Mental Health, Reproduction, Other
  • Strategic objectives: Mental health and wellbeing, Life course perspective, Lifestyles affecting health, Environment and health, Engagement, International partnerships and shaping the agenda, Global health, Capacity and skills, Research environment, Aim: Picking research that delivers, Aim: Research to people, Aim: Going global, Aim: Supporting scientists
  • Locations: Cambridge, London
  • Type: News article