Discipline hopping grant
This grant scheme is now closed for applications and is available for reference purposes only.
This grant scheme provides short-term support to pump-prime interdisciplinary research, with the aim of fostering longer-term collaborations between engineering and the physical and life sciences.
- What is a Discipline Hopping Grant?
- Who can apply?
- Financial support
- How to apply?
- The assessment procedure
- Previous Discipline Hopping Grants
- Panel membership
- Contacts and guidance
The MRC Discipline Hopping Grant scheme enables established researchers in the engineering or physical sciences to apply for funding to investigate and develop ideas, skills and collaborations in biological, clinical and population health research. Alternatively, established life science researchers can apply for funding to develop ideas, skills and collaborations with physical scientists or engineers. The scheme is run in partnership with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Additional funding is also provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), whenever successfully awarded proposals fall within their remit.
The scheme is designed to encourage researchers to develop imaginative ways of using techniques or expertise from the engineering and physical sciences to tackle biological, medical or natural sciences research questions. It provides contact time between engineers, physical scientists and life scientists by awarding them funds to effectively ‘buy out’ their own time and allow them to immerse themselves in a new discipline. This can include the time of the principle investigator or other researchers.
The remit of the scheme is deliberately very broad and the emphasis is on the hopping activity itself. Please see the list of previously awarded discipline hopping grants for examples of the breadth of topics eligible for funding.
Discipline Hopping Grants are not intended to support fully formed research proposals or interdisciplinary training programmes.
Grants can last from three months to a year. Our aim is to promote future collaborations and larger-scale interdisciplinary research through the scheme and we do not expect that a Discipline Hopping Grant will necessarily lead to publications or to specific objectives being met within its duration.
Discipline Hopping Grants follows standard MRC eligibility criteria with respect to individual applicants and the scheme is open to any UK-based researcher who can demonstrate a proven track record in their own scientific field and are working in a UK research institution. Please see the applicants handbook and Frequently Asked Questions for further details.
These grants are flexible, and awards will be made for periods between three months and one year. It is preferable for the principle investigators themselves to carry out the discipline hop. Where this is not feasible, it is possible to apply for funding for a suitably experienced post-doctoral researcher or support staff. However, applicants should be careful to justify the appropriateness of the hopping activity and demonstrate how this has the potential to lead to a long-term legacy of interdisciplinary working.
The MRC will usually fund on the basis of 80 per cent of the full economic cost of your research to your institution, so your proposal must show 100 per cent of the full economic cost throughout. It is expected that requests for funding will have an 100 per cent FEC value in the region of £125,000, i.e. awards will be made at 80 per cent value to a cost in the region of £100,000. It is MRC’s policy not to apply indexation to grants where the duration is 12 months or less. All costing shall be at current prices (as determined by TRAC) inclusive of VAT and other taxes where applicable, with no allowance for inflation.
Funding may be awarded for:
- Salary support to enable applicants to be released from teaching/administrative/clinical/other duties in order to personally develop the interdisciplinary activities.
- Support to second an existing post-doctoral physical scientist or engineer into an appropriate biological research laboratory for up to a year to work in partnership with life science researchers, or a postdoctoral life scientist to a physical science or engineering laboratory.
- Salary support to recruit new, appropriately experienced, post doctoral or support staff
- Funding for the consumables, equipment and travel that are necessary for developing the interdisciplinary activity.
- Focussed workshops to enhance networking between disciplines.
- The Discipline Hopping Grant scheme has been managed, across the Research Councils, as an annual competition since 2007.
- The Research Councils have jointly decided to temporarily suspend the 2010/11 competition. It is expected that the Research Council allocations will be reported by the end of the year and we hope to review this position in 2011.
- Read the MRC applicants handbook, which will guide you through preparing a proposal, including eligibility, costing your proposal and any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research.
- There are additional requirements for Discipline Hopping Grant applicants. These are listed in a separate Discipline Hopping Grants Annex that should be read in conjunction with the applicants handbook. Please ensure that you also look at the terms and conditions governing MRC grants.
- Your completed proposal must be submitted using the pleased to announce that this funding opportunity is available for application through the Research Councils UK Joint e-Submission (Je-S) System. This is done by your research institution’s administrative department, after they have completed their section of your Je-S application form.
- To ensure that your application reaches us in time, please give your administrative department at least two weeks’ notice of your application and check they have sufficient time to complete their parts of the proposal before the MRC deadline date.
Your proposal will be peer reviewed by members of the Discipline Hopping Grants Panel, who follow a similar two-stage process as for reviewing other MRC proposals.
The Discipline Hopping Grants Panel assess all proposals received and, based on this assessment, shortlist the highest quality proposals to assess in more detail at the panel meeting. You will be advised of the panel’s final decision but we regret that we are unable to give applicants detailed feedback from the panel meeting.
The panel uses bespoke assessment criteria to reflect the aims and objectives of the scheme and also identify any ethical issues or risks to human participants that need further attention. Assessment of discipline hopping proposals therefore focuses on:
- Uniqueness of application of physical sciences/engineering to life sciences and valuable collaboration to be established;
- Importance of research question and/or demand for technique or application in the life sciences;
- Potential for long-term multidisciplinary collaboration;
- Appropriateness of the expertise available to support the work.
For further information on the assessment criteria please see the Panel scoring system in the Discipline Hopping Grants Annex.
Please note that applicants must not lobby MRC staff, referees, or members of peer review panels and boards, nor submit additional information in support of an application after the original submission date. To do so may result in the application being withdrawn by the MRC. More information on the assessment procedure.
Successful applicants in the competition have involved physical science disciplines, from engineering and chemistry to mathematics, and covered a range of biological and medical applications. Among the recent successful applications were:
- Astronomical Image Handling - Application to TMA Analysis: Exploiting AstroGrid/CancerGrid Systems Employment of a systems software engineer to support the transfer of information technology and image processing techniques developed in the context of astronomical image processing and Virtual Observatory programmes in the UK to the CancerGrid programme.
- Application of micro-electronics to in-vitro culture systems
Support for an existing post-doctoral neurobiologist to hop to a micro-systems engineering laboratory to investigate the possibility of developing a micro-electrode system to incorporate into a neuronal culture system.
- Crossing the shell-bone divide
Applicant from geographical & earth sciences to hop into clinical biochemistry to investigate the transfer of the technique of electron backscatter diffraction to the study of bone disease.
- Novel Bio-synthetic Matrix For Ocular Surface Reconstruction
Applicant from clinical ophthalmology to hop into a tissue engineering group to investigate the design of artificial matrices that could aid production of a tissue construct for use in wound healing and tissue regeneration in the cornea.
- Panel member, Institution
- Professor Saul Tendler (CHAIRMAN), University of Nottingham
- Dr Angus Bain, University College London
- Dr Paul Barker, University of Cambridge
- Professor Mark Chaplain, University of Dundee
- Dr John Colyer, University of Leeds
- Professor Jonathon Cooper, University of Glasgow
- Professor Ben Davis, Oxford University
- Dr Lynne Macaskie, University of Birmingham
- Dr Seb Oliver, University of Sussex.
- Professor David Russell, University of East Anglia
- Professor Gavin Screaton, Imperial College
- Professor Irene Tracey, Oxford University
- Professor Peter Weightman, University of Liverpool
- Dr Xue-feng Yuan, The University of Manchester
For further information or guidance please read our Discipline Hopping grant FAQ
If you have a query about scientific aspects of your proposal:
Contact: Dr Adam Babbs
To discuss your eligibility for a Discipline Hopping Grant, or other non-scientific queries:
Lead contacts in partner Research Councils:
Contact: Dr Colin Miles (BBSRC)
Contact: Dr Katie Finch (EPSRC)
Contact: Dr Dominique Balharry (NERC)
Contact: Dr Sue Fuller (STFC)