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UK-Thailand: Joint Health Research Call


Researchers planning to submit to this scheme are asked to submit an Expression of Interest by Friday, 1 May 

Objectives and scope


Thailand is presently in a period of epidemiological transition, reflected in key changes in the morbidity and mortality. Today, the major and rising causes of death among Thai citizens are non-communicable diseases. The number one cause of death is cancer. The prevalence rate of communicable (infectious) diseases, which used to be significant health problems have been declining, however drug-resistant and re-emerging infectious diseases are a growing challenge for disease control and prevention in Thailand. For further details please refer to the Thailand’s Health Profile prepared by Bureau of Policy and Strategy, Ministry of Public Health.

To tackle these important, evolving health priorities, key research funding partners in Thailand and the UK have worked together to support this new joint funding initiative, as part of the Newton Fund.

The MRC is working with NSTDA and TRF to support research within the remits of both Thai funders to tackle disease areas of critical importance to the Thai population.

The following areas have been identified by UK and Thai partners as highlight areas and eligible diseases for this call.

The research proposed must be specifically relevant to the Thai population. For example, this may include understanding the cause of disease or epidemiology in the Thai population, or development or implementation of interventions for resource-poor communities.

Scientific remit

Infectious Diseases (to be supported by the MRC and NSTDA)

  • Dengue: basic research related to dengue vaccine development
  • Malaria: research and development related to drug resistant parasites (in particular artmesinin), detection, diagnostic kits, etc.
  • Outbreak prediction systems using mathematical models and novel data management systems (IT): particularly to inform emerging infectious disease outbreaks
  • New solutions for important emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) of pandemic threats / endemic infectious diseases: basic research, diagnostic kits, etc.

Cancer, particularly those outlined below which are major causes of death in Thailand (to be supported by the MRC and TRF)

  • Lung cancer: basic research to understand the disease mechanisms, and research and development related to biological markers for disease detection, monitoring and treatment
  • Cholangiocarcinoma: basic research on early diagnostic markers, and potential new more effective therapies
  • Oesophageal cancer: basic research related to disease development mechanism, and biological marker for treatment

Research activities

The funders, MRC NSTDA and TRF, welcome proposals for research in these diseases across the spectrum of research activities, from basic discovery research, understanding the mechanisms of disease, novel detection and diagnosis to development of novel preventatives (vaccines) and therapeutics

Funding available

Funding will be provided by a partnership consisting of:

  • The National Science Technology Development Agency (NSTDA)
  • Thailand Research Fund (TRF)
  • Medical Research Council

The Medical Research Council will lead administration of this call in the UK. Funding from the Medical Research Council has been secured through the Newton Fund.

NSTDA, MRC and TRF have earmarked up to £2,889,000 for this call.

NSTDA area:

  • MRC – GBP 1million (in support to the successful UK applicants)
  • NSTDA – GBP 556k (THB 30 million) in support to the successful Thai applicants

TRF area:

  • MRC – GBP 1million (in support to the successful UK applicants)
  • TRF – GBP 333k (THB 18 million) in support to the successful Thai applicants

It is expected that this funding will support up to 4 joint projects infectious diseases, and 3 joint projects for non-communicable diseases

The Newton Fund

The UK contribution will be channelled from the Newton Fund. The Newton Fund is an initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies. It was launched by the Chancellor in April 2014, and will deliver £375 million of funding over the course of five years.

The Fund forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). ODA funded activity focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee list. Newton Fund countries represent a sub-set of this list. For more information please visit the MRC Newton Fund page.

The Newton Fund requires that the funding be awarded in a manner that fits with Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines. All applications under this call must therefore be compliant with these guidelines. 

Assessment criteria and decision making process

To be funded, proposals must be internationally competitive and at a standard equivalent to that normally expected to be supported by each funding organisation.

Key assessment criteria for the submissions will be:

  • Significance and Impact of the research
  • Scientific Rationale: novelty, importance and timeliness of the research;
  • Design and Feasibility of the Project Plan
  • Partnership: including strength and clarity of collaborations and opportunities provided, quality of the project management structure proposed;
  • Quality and suitability of the research environment and of the facilities;
  • Value for money for Thai and UK science;
  • Ethical considerations and governance arrangements.

Applications received and comments from all peer-reviewers will be assessed by MRC and TRF and NSTDA Review Panels in September. 

Researchers planning to submit to this scheme are asked to submit an Expression of Interest including the names of the leading UK and Thai investigators and a preliminary project title, by Friday 1 May. The deadline for full applications is Tuesday 2 June

Full applications must be submitted by UK PI’s to MRC via the Je-S application system by 4pm, Tuesday 2 June 2015.

Funding decisions will be made through a joint process. This will include:

  1. Joint Expression of Interest emailed to by Friday 1 May 
  2. Joint application from  the UK and Thai researchers by Tuesday 2 June via Je-S
  3. Joint peer review process including UK and Thai academic reviews (plus other international reviewers as appropriate);
  4. Joint panel meetings of academic experts for MRC, TRF and NSTDA
  5. Funds released

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

How to apply

In order to identify peer reviewers and convene assessment panels in advance, it is important that researchers indicate their intention to submit a proposal. Please email an expression of interest as outlined below (please use the expression of interest template (DOCX, 19KB)) by Friday 1 May 2015.

The deadline for full applications is Tuesday 2 June 2015.

Applicant Role



Principal Investigator (UK)



Principal Investigator (Thailand)



List of all Co-Investigators (stating whether UK or Thailand based)













Project Title


Summary of proposed project (maximum 200 words. Please note: this may be used when approaching potential reviewers in the first instance)


Full applications must be submitted by UK PIs to MRC via the Je-S application system by 4pm, Tuesday 2 June 2015.

UK applications will be submitted to and processed by MRC. Please see guidance (PDF, 252KB)for further information.


For further information, UK applicants should contact:

For further information, Thai applicants should contact: