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Tackling AMR Theme 2: Accelerating therapeutic and diagnostics development

  • Status: Closed
  • Open date: 13 Apr 2015
  • Closing date: 04 Jun 2015 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Calls

Focus of the call

This is a broad theme encompassing the development, scale up and manufacture of new human and animal therapies and the diagnostics required to better target both new and existing therapies, and to monitor bacterial pathogen spread.

MRC, BBSRC, EPSRC and ESRC are supporting this call with the aim to:

  • refresh the pipeline for human and animal antibiotics;
  • develop new non-drug based treatments for bacterial infections (vaccines, immunotherapies, probiotics, prebiotics, phages, amongst others);
  • improve the efficacy of existing drugs through effective dosing strategies to minimise development of resistance and/or develop more targeted delivery methods;
  • accelerate the scale-up and manufacture of novel antibiotics and vaccines;
  • underpin the development of rapid, point of care diagnostics to enable the most appropriate therapy/intervention to be chosen;
  • develop innovative diagnostics data linkages for community settings to monitor spread; and
  • consider the real world issues that will affect the development and utilisation of new treatments and diagnostics

Applicants are now invited to submit proposals that will address one or more of these challenges in a multidisciplinary way. We would expect research proposals to incorporate relevant cross-disciplinary expertise spanning the remits of at least two of the Research Council partners. Disciplines that could be involved, but is not limited to include: bacteriology, drug development and delivery, chemistry, synthetic biology, materials science, informatics and computational modelling, mathematics, engineering and social science.

Partnership between industry and academia is actively encouraged to accelerate the translation of novel therapies and diagnostics. Where appropriate, the social and economic aspects of developing new antibacterials and diagnostics could be incorporated into a multidisciplinary approach.

Given the complexity of the research challenges and the need to develop new partnerships and collaborations, MRC - on behalf of the research councils - invited interested parties to a series of workshops. The purpose of these workshops was to encourage innovative thinking, networking and development of proposals amongst attendees with relevant experience, but who may not have previously worked in this area. The workshops took place in London (November 2014/December 2015). Outcomes from the workshops (reports to be available soon) fed into the development of this call.

Available funds and types of awards

Funds will be made available through two modes of support:

Collaborative grants:

Strategic Objectives

The objectives of the collaborative awards are to support proposals that would:

  • Address the aims of the call with interdisciplinary collaborations creating critical mass and expertise;
  • Provide novel tools, platform technologies and solutions for antibacterial therapeutic and diagnostics development for human and animal bacterial pathogens;
  • Create a world leading and fully connected national programme to pull together excellent discovery science to support translation of AMR therapies to address human, animal or zoonotic pathogens.

Collaborative grants will support high quality innovative research conducted by multidisciplinary teams of researchers to address the priority areas highlighted and add value by contributing to the overall strategic aims of theme 2 of the AMR initiative. Expertise could include bacteriology (both clinical and veterinary), drug development and delivery, chemistry, synthetic biology, material science, informatics and computational modelling, engineering and physical science as well as social science. Collaborative grants can address single pathogenic species or multiple species.

Collaborative grants may often need to involve research groups from more than one research organisation and should include researchers with a strong track record and expertise that add value to the proposed research. Collaborative grants should also involve strategic partnerships with other sectors such as industry, medical practitioners (both human and veterinary), policy makers, and the public, as appropriate. In addition to carrying out high quality research, collaborative grants will build research capability and capacity in addressing the AMR challenge by attracting new expertise to complement existing expertise. Training PhD students in interdisciplinary AMR research would be highly encouraged. 

Funds will be available to support research collaborations over a 4-5 year period at approximately £3m (80% fec), offering scope, breadth and flexibility to address the aims of theme 2.

Proposals would need to:

  • Articulate a clear hypothesis that addresses one or more of the aims of this call;
  • Be innovative and with clear potential to make a distinct contribution alongside what is already being pursued in industry and internationally;
  • Bring together multidisciplinary teams to address this hypothesis;
  • Collaborate with industry (animal and human pharma, biotech, diagnostics) including non-traditional industries such as med/vet tech, computing; or have the clear potential (in their scientific approach / visibility / structure) to attract new partnerships and investments from the relevant industry;
  • Collaborate with clinicians and/or veterinarians, and policy makers, to enable greater translation to product or practice;
  • Provide new scientific insights, novel tools, platforms technologies and engineering solutions needed for development of new therapeutic approaches;
  • Build on UK research excellence in a range of disciplines, for example bacteriology, drug development, chemistry, synthetic biology, material science, mathematics, engineering and physical sciences, and economics from both academia and industry.

How to apply

The submission process will be in two stages; an outline stage followed by a full application stage.

Outline phase

When creating your proposal in Je-S you will need to enter the following options to ensure that your proposal is considered under the correct funding scheme:

Select Council: MRC

Select Document Type: Outline Proposal

Select Scheme: Standard Outline

Select Call/Type/Mode: AMR Theme 2 Collaborative Outline Grants June 2015

You must submit your application to MRC via Je-S by 16:00 on 4 June 2015, having answered all mandatory sections and attaching the following items:

  • Case for support (PDF, 39KB) (maximum of 5 sides of A4, including references)
  • Justification of resources (maximum 2 sides of A4)
  • Gantt chart
  • 2 page CVs for each investigator (without publications)
  • 1 page list of publications for each investigator
  • Supporting documents and letters of collaboration

Please complete all sections of the Je-S application. General guidance can be found in the MRC Applicant’s Handbook, which will guide you through the standard processes for preparing a proposal, page limit for standard attachments, costing your proposals and any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research. Please refer to the following additional guidance (PDF, 39KB) on how to prepare your case for support for the outline phase.

Applicants should also refer to the MRC Guidance for applicants for general information about the MRC application process.

Full proposal phase

You will receive access to the full proposal application process and guidance if you are selected to proceed to the full proposal stage following review of your outline. You will be notified in September 2015. The time between invitation to full application stage and deadline for submission of full applications will be at least 8 weeks.

Applicants invited forward to the full stage will need to submit a full application via Je-S by 16:00 on 7 December 2015. As with the outline application stage, full stage applicants will be required to complete a tailored case for support form. Guidance on how to complete this form and make the full submission will be provided in due course.

 

Evaluation criteria

Applications will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Fit to the call - The application must address the focus and objectives defined by the call and demonstrate a level of innovation and originality.
  • Academic merit of the proposal – quality and novelty of the proposed research.
  • Relevance – importance of the research question to the field. Will the research potentially make a significant impact to advancing knowledge in the area above and beyond what is currently being funded?
  • Robustness and appropriateness of the study designs and methods.
  • Multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach – Does the study truly involve a range of research disciplines that are appropriate to the research questions posed? Does the team have the necessary range of expertise and experience to carry out the proposed study?
  • Suitability of the research environment - Are all the necessary requirements to carry out the study in place or available?
  • Management of proposed activities.
  • Feasibility and value for money.
  • Ethical and governance considerations - Have issues been adequately identified and addressed?

Assessment process

Outline phase

For collaborative grants, applicants are first asked to submit an outline proposal by 4th June 2015.  Outline collaborative grant applications will be reviewed by an expert panel in September 2015 and they will be assessed against the evaluation criteria above. The Panel’s recommendations will be confirmed by the AMR Steering Group. The outline application assessment will not draw on external referee comments and hence no response to such comments by principal investigators will be required.

The outcome of the outline application assessment process is that applicants will either be invited to develop a full submission or will be declined and feedback provided.

Please note that the decisions of the Panel and Steering Group will not be open to appeal and that the MRC reserves the right to amend the application process.

Investigator workshop

Successful outlines will be invited to attend an investigators’ workshop mid/end September 2015.  The workshop aims to provide support and advice on the development of full stage Collaborative grants.

Full proposal phase

Full applications will be reviewed by an expert panel and the AMR Steering Committee in early 2016. The Expert Panel membership will be published on the website shortly.

Full applications will be sent out for international peer review and principal investigators will be given the opportunity to comment on these ahead of the Expert Panel meeting. An interview stage with the principle investigators may be required in March 2016.

Please note that the decisions of the Panel and Steering Group will not be open to appeal and that the MRC reserves the right to amend the application process.

Key dates

The key dates are listed below:

 

AMR Theme 2 Collaborative grants

Task

Date

Launch call

13 April 2015

Outline application deadline

4 June 2015

Expert Panel & Steering Group to assess outlines

Mid-September 2015

Full application deadline

 7 December 2015

PI response to reviewers’ comments

15-29 Feb 2016

Interviews

March 2016

Expert Panel & Steering Group to make funding decision on full applications

March 2016

Innovation grants:

Strategic objective

Innovation grants will support untested, high risk/high reward research that will provide new insights, be transformative and stimulate creative thinking to tackle AMR. Studies supported by this award are expected to lay the groundwork for future avenues of scientific investigation.

The proposed research project should include a well-formulated, testable hypothesis based on a sound scientific rationale and study design.

No preliminary data is required but may be included if available.

The proposed research project should be novel, innovative and exploratory. Innovative research may introduce a new paradigm, challenge existing paradigms, look at existing problems from new perspectives, or exhibit other highly creative qualities. Interdisciplinarity is encouraged but not essential as the highly novel nature of these awards may initially focus efforts on a single question.

Research is expected to be high risk high reward that will lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or result in novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models or applications that will impact AMR research.

This award should be able to generate robust data that can be used as a foundation for future research to identify new innovative ways to treat and or diagnose AMR. Innovation grants are not intended to support a logical progression of an already established research project or other types of ongoing work; therefore, the nature of this award would be more exploratory.

Young investigators are particularly encouraged to apply and would be urged to seek mentorship in writing their proposal. New Investigators Research Grant applications (NIRGs) can be submitted as part of this mode of funding pending eligibility.

Funds will be available to support research over 12-24 months period, and are expected to be around £200k (80% fec).

How to apply

Innovation grants will be submitted as full proposals with no outline stage.

New Investigators Research Grant applications (NIRGs) can be submitted as part of this mode of funding pending eligibility. New investigators should use the specific NIRG CV template to upload their CV. Also see FAQs for further guidance.

When you create your proposal in Je-S you will need to enter the following options to ensure that your proposal is considered under the correct funding scheme:

Select Council: MRC

Select Document Type: Standard proposal

Select Scheme: Research Grant or NIRG (as applicable)

Select Call/Type/Mode: AMR Theme 2 Innovation Grants June 2015

You must submit your application to MRC via Je-S by 16:00 on 4 June 2015 having answered all mandatory sections, and attaching the following items:

  • Case for support (PDF, 42KB) (PDF, 42KB) (maximum of 3 sides of A4, including references)
  • Justification of resources (maximum 2 sides of A4)
  • 2 page CVs for each investigator (without publications)
  • 1 page list of publications for each investigator
  • Pathways to Impact
  • Data Management Plan
  • Supporting documents and letters of collaboration

Please complete all sections of the Je-S application. General guidance can be found in the MRC Applicant’s Handbook, which will guide you through the standard processes for preparing a proposal, page limit for standard attachments, costing your proposals and any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research. Please refer to the following additional guidance (PDF, 42KB) on how to prepare your case for support.

Applicants should also refer to the MRC Guidance for applicants for general information about the MRC application process.

Evaluation criteria

Applications will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Fit to the call – The application must address the focus and objectives defined by the call and demonstrate a level of innovation and originality.
  • Academic merit of the proposal – quality and novelty of the proposed research.
  • Relevance and potential for impact – importance of the research question to the field. Will the research potentially make a significant impact to advancing knowledge in the area above and beyond what is currently being funded?
  • Robustness and appropriateness of the study designs and methods.
  • Does the team have the necessary range of expertise and experience to carry out the proposed study?
  • Suitability of the research environment. Are all the necessary requirements to carry out the study in place or available?
  • Ethical and governance considerations. Have issues been adequately identified and addressed?

Assessment process

Applicants must submit their proposals for high risk innovation grants by 4th June 2015. These will be reviewed by an expert panel in September 2015. Proposals will be assessed against the evaluation criteria above and scored using the standard 1-10 scoring system used by Board and Panels (for further information see Reviewers handbook). This Panel will provide funding recommendations to the AMR Steering Group. The application assessment will not draw on external referee comments and hence no response to such comments by principal investigators will be required, but the MRC may invite specialist members to join the panel depending on the applications received to this call.

Please note that the decisions of the Panel and Steering Group will not be open to appeal and that the MRC reserves the right to amend the application process.

Key dates

The key dates are listed below:

 

AMR Theme 2 Innovation grants

Task

Date

Launch call

13 April 2015

Application deadline 1

4 June 2015

Expert Panel & Steering Group to make funding decision

Mid-September 2015

 

Eligibility

This call follows standard RCUK eligibility criteria and is open to UK-based researchers who can show they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in carrying it through.

Eligible institutions include:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • Research Council Units and Institutes
  • Eligible Independent Research Organisations (IROs). See the RCUK website for information on eligible IROs.

Research proposals that are led by commercial entities are not eligible. However, it is the expectation that applications to this call will include industrial partners, at least by the full application stages.

In addition, the following conditions apply to this call:

  • Individuals may be the principal investigator on one Collaborative and one Innovation grant. Individuals can act as co-investigators on any number of applications. However, please note that the assessment will consider the level of engagement of co-applicants and partners with the research, and their capacity to meet these requirements.
  • There is no limit to the number of applications per higher education institution (HEI) or research institution, but capacity to conduct the study will be considered during assessment.

Contacts

For scientific queries please contact:

Dr Ghada Zoubiane: amr@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

Dr Sian Rowland: amr@bbsrc.ac.uk

Dr Victoria Marlow: healthcare@epsrc.ac.uk

Ms Naomi Beaumont: Naomi.Beaumont@esrc.ac.uk

For queries regarding preparation and submission of your application, in the first instance, please refer to all documentation referred to in the call text. Additionally, the Je-S Help text will guide you through the standard processes for preparing and costing your proposal.

If you still have a query, contact the Je-S helpdesk:

Je-S Helpdesk: Monday–Friday 9.00am–5.00pm

Telephone: +44 (0) 1793 44 4164

Email: JeSHelp@rcuk.ac.uk

Web: https://je-s.rcuk.ac.uk