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Delivery Plan

The mission of the MRC is to improve human health through world-class medical research, from fundamental science to early clinical trials and preventive medicine. For the good of society, we find better ways to treat and prevent disease and to advance the health of people worldwide.

The MRC works in partnership across UK Research and Innovation and with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and devolved administrations, the NHS, charities and industry. We are a dynamic organisation that is continually evolving and embracing new opportunities to achieve a mission that has remained the same for more than a century.

Four foundations are central to addressing our vision:

  • Discovery science: Investing in the best research to push the frontiers of knowledge, for example addressing biological complexity in real life and at different scales. Our research is investigator-led and inspired by clear health problems, knowledge gaps or opportunities for interventions.
  • Investing in people: Supporting outstanding researchers and strengthening diversity and mobility across sectors and disciplines; building capability, especially in clinical and quantitative research, and improving careers for team scientists and technology specialists.  
  • New technologies and infrastructure: Ensuring access to cutting edge technologies, data and computing infrastructure, and expert support; ensuring funds are available for renewal of day-to-day equipment.
  • Fostering collaboration: Refreshing our models of support for MRC centres and consortia to support new research challenges, and creating platforms for sharing expertise and equipment. 

We give particular emphasis to developing research and partnerships in our health focus themes:

  • Prevention and early detection: Fostering a whole systems approach, including ‘upstream’ environmental and social causes of ill health and close engagement with users to shift healthcare towards pre-empting disease in earlier stages. New insights from biological research into genetic risk and disease mechanisms, and new monitoring and diagnostic technologies, play an increasingly important role in targeting preventive work, and in enabling earlier diagnosis and action. 
  • Precision medicine: Moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach, to better target interventions to an individual. We support clinical-industry-academic consortia and capitalise on the UK’s strengths in deep experimental investigations in well-described clinical groups.
  • Multimorbidities: Understanding patterns of disease clusters, common underpinning mechanisms such as ageing and inflammation, and the wider determinants of multimorbidities.
  • Advanced therapies: Harnessing our strong biological and clinical research to develop research in advanced cell and gene therapies, and to explore new materials, synthetic biomolecules and implantable neurotechnologies.
  • Mental health: Improving understanding of the biological, social, and environmental risk factors of mental ill health with an emphasis on childhood and adolescence to enable early interventions.
  • Antimicrobial resistance: Developing a ‘One Health’ approach, building further on the cross-UKRI AMR Funders Forum to establish robust predictive models of the AMR threat and opportunities for intervention.
  • Global health: Widening and diversifying the research base to address changing needs in low and middle income countries, and working in partnership to maximise impacts and develop sustainable and efficient research capacity.

To translate the outcomes of our work, we develop partnerships for health and economic impact:

  • working with health departments, the NHS and charities to ensure that the UK can achieve its full potential in using routine health data for research, narrow the gap between research and clinical practice, and enhance the use of research evidence in policy development
  • supporting a strong pipeline of academic translation and innovative public-private partnerships with pharmaceutical, diagnostics, digital and technology sectors to de-risk and accelerate interventions
  • influencing international research agendas and providing leadership in international partnerships to ensure UK scientists can engage with the best minds, ideas and resources to address global challenges and attract overseas funding.

MRC's Delivery Plan forms part of a full set of Delivery Plans covering UKRI’s nine constituent councils, in addition to a plan covering cross-UKRI initiatives, see: UK Research and Innovation: Delivery Plans

Sun diagram for the strategy delivery plan


MRC Big Ideas

MRC has launched a pilot programme to encourage the submission of ambitious and exciting ideas that have the potential to transform the health research landscape and help us to achieve the strategy outlined in our Delivery Plan 2019. We’re looking to engage with the research and innovation community to identify ideas that will attract the enthusiasm of researchers, the public, industry and government, either by the nature of the science itself or the potential health and socio-economic changes these could offer in the future. Submissions will contribute to the development of a pipeline of ideas/cases that can be used to attract public investment should opportunities arise. 

“Big Ideas” are expected to be novel and adventurous and offer investment opportunities for new ways of working, infrastructure, or research that cannot be supported through our existing funding routes. They will be distinctive, compelling and have the potential to create transformational change. The ideas should appeal to the research and innovation communities that would be expected to play a central role in realising their potential. They can be fundamental or applied, UK-based or international partnerships and multidisciplinary ideas are particularly encouraged.

The MRC Big Ideas programme is not a call for proposals as there is no dedicated funding aligned to this activity. We are not looking for research grants that can be supported now but hope to capture visionary, community-led ideas to inform the development of our future research strategy.

How do I submit a big idea?

By completing the form below and submitting it to bigideas@mrc.ukri.org. Forms can be submitted at any time.

Submissions meeting the criteria for the Big Ideas pilot will be considered by the MRC’s internal Science Strategy Group (SSG) in the first instance. Ideas are expected to be considered in batches on a regular basis (approximately every 3-4 months). Informal feedback will be provided on any ideas considered by the SSG.

Submission template (DOCX, 27KB)

Who can submit a Big Idea?

We are inviting ideas from the research and innovation community and wider stakeholders including industry or charitable bodies.  We would recommend that you discuss your idea with a group of interested parties/stakeholders before submission.

How will the big ideas be used?

Ideas identified as having transformative potential will be considered as a part of MRC’s strategy development activities and may contribute to the development of cases to attract further investment.

Please note, that once an idea has been submitted you are giving MRC permission to develop the idea as it sees appropriate. If prioritised, this is likely to include further development with the submitter and may include inviting other people to be involved and/or lead the development of the idea.

Previous strategic plans

Our past strategic plans are in Publications.

Read about how we progressed against our commitments in the last strategic plan in Research Changes Lives 2009-14: Progress (PDF, 1.48MB).