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UK-China Stem cell partnership development initiative

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

The MRC and the National Natural Science Foundation of China invites proposals to the UK-China Stem Cell partnership development initiative from high quality research teams based in the UK and China. The initiative will provide funding for travel and consumables to help the development of collaborative links between stem cell scientists in the UK and China.



This scheme is launched following the visit of an MRC expert group to China, which explored the potential benefits of partnering with China in stem cell research. To further explore the opportunities for building successful collaborations, the MRC and the National Natural Science Foundation of China convened a bilateral expert workshop, held in Cambridge in September 2011. Details of the workshop can be found here The workshop clearly demonstrated the strength and breadth of stem cell research in both countries, and the potential for establishing fruitful collaborations.


Objectives and remit

The partnership development initiative aims to provide opportunities for scientists from China and the UK to develop enduring collaborative links in the area of stem cell research. The immediate objective of the partnership scheme is to provide funding to connect research groups to undertake small scale collaborative research as a basis for future and joint activity.


Projects funded under this scheme should have scientific outcomes of relevance to the longer term development of therapies for human disease and disorders. Research will be focussed on basic stem cell biology and preclinical research, for example addressing mechanisms of pluripotency, disease modelling, cell differentiation and maturation, and barriers to therapeutic development.


The initiative will provide funding for travel and consumables to provide a catalyst for the establishment of long term UK-China collaborations. A successful outcome would be for partnerships to have sufficiently well-developed links that they are able to prepare joint proposals for more substantial collaborative research projects.


Following the partnership development scheme the MRC and NSFC intend to launch full scale collaborative research grant funding. Groups that can demonstrate an established productive collaborative research partnership will be eligible to apply to MRC and NSFC funding to pursue their shared research interests.


Funding available

MRC will provide funding for the UK applicants. Up to £400,000 is available to fund in the region of 10 to 12 partnership projects. The grants will cover 100% of the UK researchers’ costs for travel and consumables.


NSFC will provide funding for the Chinese applicants and a total of 3,000,000 RMB is available.


The projects should last 12 months but the funding profile for the UK portion of funding will have a degree of flexibility and can be extended beyond 12 months if necessary.



For the UK participants the usual eligibility criteria as described in the applicant’s handbook will apply. In addition to the standard criteria, the Principal Investigator must have held MRC research funding within the past five years (ie. as PI or named co-applicant on an MRC grant or fellowship awarded since 1/1/2007).


MRC Units and Institutes are eligible to apply to this call.


The Chinese partners must be eligible to receive funding from the NSFC and should consult NSFC regarding their application.


How to apply

The UK and Chinese applicants should apply to their respective funding agencies but should submit a joint Case of Support written in English.


Applications from the UK Principal Investigator should be submitted to the UK Research Councils’ Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) System ( Guidance on setting up a Je-S account and on filling out the Je-S forms can be found at:


The Je-S system will be available for applicants to complete the outline proposal form and upload the case for support, from 17 January 2011.

When submitting your form please make the following selections on the Je-S:

Council: MRC

Document Type: Standard Proposal

Scheme: Research Grant

Call/Type/Mode: UK-China Stem Cell Research Initiative Apr 12


Case for Support

A joint Case for Support, written in English, should be submitted by the UK and Chinese applicants. For the UK applicants this must be attached as a PDF to the J-eS application. The case for support may be up to four A4 pages in length, including references, using Arial 11pt typeface with margins of 2cms on all sides. No annexes to the Case for Support are allowed.

In your case for support you should address each of the following headings:

    • Title
    • Abstract of proposed research
    • Importance of the research
    • Scientific potential and expected outcomes
    • People and track record
    • Research environment
    • Research plans and deliverables
    • Consideration of ethical, governance and IP issues around the project


Generic Guidance on content under each of these headings can be found in the applicant’s handbook.


CV’s and a publication list for each of the named investigator should be included and guidance on this can also be found in the applicant’s handbook.


A Justification of Resources and Pathways to Impact document must be attached to the Je-S application. For this call both of these documents should be limited to one paragraph.


Evaluation process

Applications received will be reviewed by a joint MRC and NSFC research panel, with funding decisions to be taken in June 2012.


Terms and conditions

In addition to the standard MRC and RCUK terms and conditions, applicants undertaking research involving human stem cell lines must adhere to MRC supplementary terms and conditions for MRC grants introduced in the context of stem cell research Medical Research Council - MRC Terms and Conditions, section AC24. All research involving the use of hESC lines must comply with the UK code of practice for the use of human stem cell lines.


Applicants should also consult the China – UK Research Ethics (CURE) Committee Report, in particular the section on Stem Cell Science from page 18.




17 January 2012

Je-s submission tool available

17 April 2012

Deadline for submission by 4pm

End of June 2012

Inform applicants of decisions

October 2012

Start of projects


Contacts and guidance

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


If you have a general enquiry about this scheme please contact the MRC International Strategy Section

Contact: Kate Sheedy



If you have a query about scientific aspects of your research proposals, please contact the programme manager below:

Contact: Dr Paul Colville-Nash



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