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Research

Funding routes

We are keen to support high quality research into stem cells and regenerative medicine that:

  • improves our understanding of fundamental stem cell biology and regenerative processes
  • applies the emerging technologies to improve human health.

Research boards

Our four research boards fund science that enhances our knowledge of the biology of health and disease and new approaches to treatment, including fundamental or investigative research, for example hypothesis-led research seeking to:

  • understand developmental processes relevant to regeneration
  • understand the mechanisms of self-renewal or reprogramming, or understand the factors that drive differentiation of stem or progenitor cells down a particular lineage
  • characterise stem cell populations and their niche
  • explore the use of stem cells to probe mechanisms of disease
  • develop tools and technologies, for example for disease modelling or bioengineering
  • undertake early pre-clinical investigations into potential regenerative therapies, including tissue repair strategies or mechanisms to enhance endogenous repair

The choice of which board to submit to will depend upon the nature of the work and the disease being investigated. Basic stem/progenitor cell research of a more generic nature should be directed to the Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board. Regenerative medicine research that moves beyond underpinning biological mechanisms and focuses on particular organs or tissues and associated dysfunction or disease, other than haematology, are more likely to align with one of the other Research boards:

Biomedical Catalyst: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme

The Biomedical Catalyst: Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) is a key part of our Translational Research Strategy and supports the translation of fundamental discoveries toward benefits to human health. It funds the pre-clinical development and early clinical testing of novel therapeutics, devices and diagnostics, including “repurposing” of existing therapies.

 DPFS takes the lead on proposals relevant to regenerative medicine that are developing areas such as:

  • mature regenerative medicine approaches where more substantive funding is required to deliver a project with a clear pathway to product or clinical development, for example treatment using cell or small molecule drug-based approaches that stimulate regeneration
  • organ or tissue transplantation strategies
  • interventions targeting cancer stem cells
  • gene therapies
  • drug screening programmes using stem-cell derived assays to identify interventions that do not stimulate repair/regeneration processes
  • use of cells to deliver drugs, antibodies, etc.

    Biomedical Catalyst: Regenerative Medicine Research Committee​​

    ​The scope of the Biomedical Catalyst: Regenerative Medicine Research Committee (RMRC) is research that will establish the viability of an approach, through addressing focused research questions needed to unlock progress in pre-clinical development and/or early clinical testing of novel regenerative medicine therapies. The intention is to facilitate the transition from discovery research to mature translational development projects, supporting the application of such research to a stage where further funding can be found to continue development towards the latter stages of therapeutic or technological development. To deliver against this objective and to help scale proposals, successful applications are expected to be in the order of 1-2 years duration, with RMRC committing up to £2 million per year across ~10 awards.

    The scheme’s remit includes:

    • cellular regenerative therapies spanning stem, progenitor and differentiated cells
    • tissue repair strategies, including small molecule, gene therapy and biologics for the enhancement of endogenous repair
    • biomaterial interventions which actively engage repair and regeneration processes.
    The RMRC scheme will be discontinued following the final call deadline in November 2018. The UK regenerative medicine research field has matured significantly over recent years and, as described above, the research boards and DPFS panel have the ability to consider regenerative medicine research projects from basic discovery science to translational.

    If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposal or about funding mechanisms, please contact one of the programme managers:

    Board queries: Dr Megan Dowie – megan.dowie@mrc.ukri.org

    Programme Manager for stem cells, developmental biology, regenerative medicine and haematology

    Translational queries: Dr David Pan – david.pan@mrc.ukri.org

    Programme Manager for regenerative medicine, gene and cell therapies, vaccines and physical therapies, antibodies.

    Training

    Regenerative medicine research projects are eligible for all our training investments. More information about training grants is available, specifically with respect to fellowships and studentships.