What is a research grant?
MRC research grants are suitable for focused research projects that may be short- or long-term in nature. In addition, they can be used to support method development or development and continuation of research facilities and may involve more than one research group or institution.
A research grant can be awarded for any period of up to five years, but those of two years or less are for proof of principle or pilot work only. Applications seeking support of greater than three years should provide a clear justification as to why a longer timescale is needed, for example due to specific research deliverables, or the need for prolonged data collection or follow-up.
The budget for research grant awards will not typically exceed £1 million.
Research grants do not cover programmatic approaches or research involving randomised trials of clinical treatments. If your proposed research will lead directly to a separately funded clinical trial, please contact an MRC research board manager to discuss its eligibility.
The proposal success rates page shows the number of research grants awarded each year.
Who can apply?
Any UK-based researcher who can demonstrate that they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in carrying it through.
The minimum academic qualification required is a graduate degree, although usually a PhD is required. Less experienced researchers should apply in collaboration with a more senior colleague.
The applicant(s) must demonstrate that they will direct the proposed research and be actively engaged in the work.
Applications can include an industry partner(s). Applicants with an industrial partner(s) will need to include MICA: as a prefix to their project title, complete the Project Partner section in Je-S and submit a MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) Form and Heads of Terms as part of their Je-S application.
Please refer to the MRC web site for further guidance on MICAs.
Under the research grant scheme you may request support for a period of up to five years, which can include:
- The salary of the principal investigator and co-investigators
- Support for additional posts - research, technical or other consumables
- Travel costs
- Data preservation, data sharing and dissemination costs.
Applicants who are preparing a Research Grant, Strategic or DCS grant that may include an early phase trial as part of their research proposal should include the cost of the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) registration fee in their application. Please refer to the Trial Grant Annex for further detail.
The MRC will usually fund on the basis of 80 per cent of the full economic cost of your research to your institution. Your proposal must show 100 per cent of the full economic cost throughout.
Please note that the MRC does not provide funding for use as a ‘bridge’ between grants under any of its grant schemes.
Please note that costs for PhD studentships cannot be requested within MRC research or programme grants.
How to apply?
- Check which of the MRC’s four research boards awards grants in your scientific area and check its application deadlines dates.
- You may also wish to look through our highlight notices to see if your proposed research falls within any of the MRC’s scientific priority areas and if so to highlight this in your proposal.
- Read the MRC applicants handbook (PDF, 830KB), which will guide you through preparing a proposal, including eligibility, case for support, costing your proposal and any ethical and regulatory requirements that may apply to the research. Please also ensure that you read the terms and conditions governing MRC grants.
- Your completed proposal must be submitted through the RCUK Je-S (joint electronic submission) system.
- To ensure that your application reaches us in time, please give your administrative department at least two weeks’ notice of your application and the MRC Research Board deadline date.
Application deadlines are usually in January, May and September. All proposals are assessed by external experts before they are considered by the MRC research boards at their meetings in May/June, October/November and February/March.
The assessment procedure
Your proposal will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts from the UK and overseas. The MRC also sometimes consults other specialist referees in the UK and overseas. This peer review is the first part of a two-stage process, which helps the MRC research boards to decide which proposals to consider at their funding meetings.
You will receive anonymous copies of the reviewers' assessments. If your proposal is shortlisted, you will have the opportunity to comment on them before your proposal is considered by the relevant research board. You will also receive feedback on the board’s final decision.
The research boards use similar criteria to those of the referees and also identify any ethical issues or risks to human participants that need further attention.
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.
Contacts and guidance
To discuss your eligibility for a research grant, or if you have other non-scientific queries:
Research Funding Policy and Delivery
If you have a query about scientific aspects of your proposal, please contact the relevant MRC programme manager on the research boards contacts page.