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ICMR-MRC Joint Initiative: Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Research Funding

This call is now closed for applications and is available for reference purposes only.

If you have been invited to submit to the full scheme, please apply using the Je-S system. See Transfer to Je-S for more information.


Call for Proposals: specification




The world is facing a new health crisis: a rapidly increasing epidemic of chronic disease which is no longer restricted to high income countries. Today four out of five deaths from these conditions are occurring in low and middle income countries and at younger ages. Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, diabetes and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) became the principal causes of death and disability in the UK during the twentieth century and continue to present a huge health burden. With changing demography, i.e. economic development, urbanisation, nutrition transition etc, there is also now a growing epidemic of these diseases in the Indian population.


To help address the causes of this epidemic, in November 2009 the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) jointly hosted a workshop in New Delhi. Experts from India and the UK reviewed the current disease burden in their respective countries in cardiovascular disease, diabetes (especially the contribution of obesity and early-life under-nutrition in the aetiology of disease) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (in particular the role of smoking and indoor pollution in its development) together with the strengths, weaknesses and unmet needs of the existing research landscape in these areas. As a result of these discussions a number of research priorities were identified which form the basis of this call which will be jointly funded by the two agencies.


The full report of the workshop can be freely downloaded from the MRC website:


This call is in accordance with the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding between ICMR and MRC for collaboration in areas of medical research relevant to both countries.


Objectives and remit

The partnership between ICMR and MRC aims to combine the strengths of the Indian and UK chronic disease research communities. The guiding principles for the call will be:

  • The proposed research programme should have relevance to the burden of chronic disease in both countries and in addition, outcomes should ideally be meaningful to a wider international audience.
  • The research should involve collaboration and co-leadership between Indian and UK researchers/groups and encompass work in India and the UK.
  • Programmes of work should either involve implementation research or applicants should make clear how the outputs of their investigations could be implemented at scale i.e. they must be feasible and cost-effective to apply on a large scale. It is expected that the scaling-up would be addressed through other programmes and would not be part of this call.
  • Applicants will be encouraged to take a multidisciplinary approach (including health economics, social science, bio-statistics, data management, other allied health and non-health disciplines) where appropriate and to involve clinical and non-clinical (community) health workers, other elements of civil society, industry, policy/decision makers and patient groups/families in study designs.
  • The research collaboration should foster the sharing of methods, tools and research materials, encourage the exchange of researchers and ensure the effective dissemination of results.
  • Applicants will be expected to build in an appropriate monitoring/evaluation process (with agreed milestones) from the initiation of the programme.

Funding available

Each joint proposal must include requests for funding from both India-based and UK-based Principal Investigators (please see Eligibility section below for details of eligible institutions).


ICMR will provide funding to Indian researchers for research based in India. Approximately 5-10 million Indian Rupees (50 to 100 lakhs) will be available per project for its entire duration for the ICMR-funded portion of the costs. The funds are to be utilized in India only. Funding will be provided as per the usual ICMR Terms and Conditions.


MRC will provide funding to the UK applicants. Approximately £500,000 to £800,000 is available per project for the MRC-funded portion of the costs. Funding will be provided as per the usual MRC Terms and Conditions which permit UK institutions to spend MRC funding overseas when necessary.


The funders are expecting to support a small number (3-4) of multi-faceted joint India-UK programme proposals each with an expected duration of three to four years (the fourth year of funding will be subject to a successful review in the third year).


Scientific priorities

The call aims to promote collaborations between Indian and UK investigators in the area of chronic non-communicable diseases research, exploiting the mutual strengths of the two communities. Where appropriate, the work could build on existing partnerships/networks/cohorts.


All studies should aim to enhance our understanding of how interventions might most effectively be implemented to achieve a positive health impact.


Joint proposals addressing this question should incorporate one or several of the following elements:


  • Development of intervention strategies designed to impact on objectively measured lifestyle behaviours (diet, physical activity, tobacco use, indoor/workplace exposure to respiratory pollutants) and other modifiable risk factors. Studies may relate to child and/or adult populations. Studies should incorporate monitoring/evaluation of the effectiveness of these interventions in countering the development of chronic diseases, in particular diabetes, CVD, stroke and COPD (using standardised diagnostics).
  • Evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of interventions (as above) targeting high-risk individuals (for example diabetics, those with high blood pressure or those who are obese), versus family/community/population (public health) interventions.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions delivered by community (non-healthcare) workers, for example, 1) delivery of healthy lifestyle information; 2) non-invasive assessment of risk; 3) disease management; 4) referrals to hospitals.
  • Evaluation of strategies to improve the affordability of and accessibility to, chronic care interventions for non-communicable diseases.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of low-cost pharmaceutical interventions including “polypharmacy” for non-communicable diseases such as blood glucose-lowering therapies, secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease through better blood pressure control, low-dose theophylline for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Such studies might also address issues of adherence (any clinical trials undertaken should be conducted in accordance with the appropriate national guidelines and requirements).
  • Economic and policy interventions, such as effectiveness of advertising and social marketing, smoke-free policies, taxation and food labelling policies etc;
  • Large cross-sectional or longitudinal cohort intervention studies including prenatal studies.
  • Studies comparing effects of interventions in South Asian migrants to the UK compared with similar populations in India and/or those of European origin. This could include work looking at the effects of ethnic, cultural, regional and socially determined differences in responses to interventions.

How to apply - Letter of Intent (LoI)

This Call for Proposals is in two steps;

  • Step 1: Initially, investigators from India and the UK should submit a joint Letter of Intent (LoI) using a common format simultaneously by the due date and time to their respective funding agency. The Letter of Intent (LoI) form is available here.


The Indian Principal investigator (PI) should submit the LoI directly to ICMR and the UK PI directly to MRC:


UK partner LoI: PDF format to be submitted electronically to;


In addition the LoI must be accompanied by a signed copy of the Declaration and Signatories form (pdf format) and a CV for each investigator.


For general information about application submission to MRC, UK applicants should refer to the MRC Applicant Handbook. For scheme specific information, please refer to additional information on this call specification web-page and the Letter of Intent proforma.


Indian partner LoI: Submit to the ICMR a hard copy of the original Letter of Intent plus fifteen printed copies and a soft copy on a labelled Compact Disc (CD). In addition the LoI must be accompanied by a CV for each investigator. The hard copies and the CD should be sent to the Secretariat at ICMR, New Delhi:


Dr Bela Shah

Scientist G & Head

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases

Indian Council of Medical Research

Ansari Nagar, New Delhi- 110029


Envelope cover to be labelled as “ICMR-MRC Non-Communicable Disease Research Funding


The deadline for submission will be 21 October 2010 at 17:00 Indian Standard Time. For UK applicants this will be 12:30 on 21 October 2010. Letters must be received by both agencies by the deadline in order to be eligible for the scheme.


  • Step 2: The Principal investigators of the Letter of Intent applications which are selected after expert review will be invited to submit full proposals to ICMR and MRC. They will individually be informed about the details of procedures to be followed.


India Applicants

All Indian applicants must be working in a permanent position in a Medical College, Research Institute, or University, anywhere in the country including Government, Semi-Government and Registered bodies. Applications from non-governmental agencies and private organizations should provide documentary evidence of registration certificate for research with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Govt. of India previous track record etc. 


UK Applicants

All UK lead research organisations must comply with MRC’s eligibility requirements. Eligible UK institutions include UK Higher Education Institutions, Research Council institutes, and eligible Independent Research Organisations (IROs). All IROs listed on the Research Councils UK web page:


MRC units and institutes can apply to this call; usual rules for funding grants to MRC units and institutes will apply. If you are based at an MRC unit or institute please contact your local MRC research support office for further information.


Terms and conditions

All costs incurred by each principal investigator will be met by their country’s respective funding agency. Researchers must therefore abide by the terms and conditions set out by their home country’s research funder.


ICMR terms and conditions: The applications need to comply to the ICMR’s ad-hoc project format and should fulfill the requirements of International Collaboration (details available at


MRC terms and conditions will apply to the MRC funded portion of the grant.



ICMR and MRC will arrange for the Letters of Intent to be reviewed by their respective expert scientific panels independently. Their comments and scores will be used to match and prepare a shortlist of applicants who will be invited to submit a full proposal. The shortlisted applicants will be informed of the outcome by their respective agencies within one month of the decision point.


The panel’s decision is final and will not be open to appeal.


Letters of Intent will be assessed and scored using jointly agreed scientific and funding criteria. When assessing the outline proposals, panel members for this scheme will consider important questions such as:


  • Does the proposal fit well within the objectives and scientific remit set out in the call specification?
  • Is there a good medical or scientific rationale for pursuing the questions or gaps in knowledge that are being addressed? Is success likely to lead to significant new understanding?
  • To what extent will this project contribute, directly or indirectly, to relieving the burden of disease?
  • Is there added value in pursuing this work through UK-India researcher links?
  • Is there similar or complementary research underway elsewhere?
  • Has the individual or group established a high quality track record in the field?
  • How innovative are the proposals?
  • Are the proposed methods appropriate and feasible for the delivery of the research question?
  • Are the experimental plans realistic, given the aims of the research and the resources?
  • Are the methods and study designs competitive with the best in the field?
  • Have major scientific, technical or organisational challenges been identified, and will they be tackled well?
  • Is it feasible that the outputs of the research could be scaled up? For example (where appropriate) is the level of involvement of clinical and non-clinical (community) health workers, other elements of civil society, industry, policy/decision makers and patient groups/families adequate to increase the likely opportunities to scale-up the findings of the research?


Letter of Intent submission: 21 October 2010 at 17:00 Indian Standard Time. For UK applicants this will be 12:30 on 21 October 2010.


Panel decision: January 2011


We will inform applicants within one month of the panel decision whether they will be invited to submit a full proposal.


Approximately two months will be available for preparation of full proposals.


You will receive access to the full proposal application form and guidance if you are selected to proceed to the full proposal stage following review of your outline.


Contacts and guidance

Queries relating to Je-S should be directed to the Je-S Helpdesk


All other enquiries should be directed to: 

Indian applicants


Dr Prashant Mathur

Scientist D

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases

Indian Council of Medical Research

Ansari Nagar, New Delhi- 110029


Telephone: +91-11-26589544


UK applicants


Dr Mary Phillips

Medical Research Council

20 Park Crescent,

London W1B 1AL

E-mail address:

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7670 5443


Documents related to this funding scheme


Additional Guidance



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