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Stratified Medicine Initiative - call for proposals for disease-focused partnerships to stratify for patient benefit (invited applicants only)

  • Time remaining: 1m 3w 3d 5h 33m
  • Status: Open
  • Open date: 06 Mar 2017
  • Closing date: 22 Jun 2017 16:00 GMT+1
  • Type: Response Mode

Aim of the initiative

The overall aim of the Stratified Medicine Initiative is the discovery and understanding of clinically important disease subtypes. Whether described as stratified, precision or personalised medicine, the research will provide new insights into disease mechanisms, that will enable better tailoring of existing treatments, and pave the way for the development of new treatments, diagnostics and care pathways.

Through this Initiative we currently support thirteen consortia, in disease areas of high industry interest and/or scientific potential. Together the supported consortia have attracted over forty small, medium and large companies from across the UK and internationally and are partnered with thirty-four universities. Each consortium is a scientific discovery engine with a finely characterised patient population at its heart contributing to a deeper understanding of disease process as well as trialling new and existing treatments in stratified groups for real patient benefit.

Scope of the call

This call aims to support new consortia to address disease areas where there is a strong case for scientific advancement and major unmet clinical need.

For this call we have maintained stratification by response to treatment and have broadened the scope to include stratification by risk, diagnosis and/or prognosis. For example, proposals could focus on:

  • diseases with no existing treatment but a strong case for clinically important strata (e.g dementia) or
  • earlier disease states in which assessment of why some patients are more resilient than others to the onset and progression of disease. Whatever the stratification strategy employed, they should open up new therapeutic strategies and mechanistic understanding. Please note that this does not imply prevention studies.

Expected success factors for supported consortia are:

  • the definitive identification of distinct disease subtype(s) / stage(s)
  • mechanistic understanding of subtypes
  • with important clinical implications,
  • with the development / validation of associated measurements / markers, and
  • which are of high industry R&D potential

The consortia must:

  • build upon existing scientific and clinical expertise
  • utilise clinical research infrastructure, such as that provided by the National Institute of Health Research, Scottish Government Health Directorates, National Institute for Social Care and Health Research, Welsh Government and Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland
  • forge significant links with industrial partners.

Each consortium should provide a dynamic platform for research that will create future opportunities for further funding and collaboration.

A successful consortium must also address a number of key challenges presented by stratification such as methodology and study design, data handling, integration, and analysis, inclusion of potential new therapies, and application of clinical pharmacology. Furthermore, patient involvement is strongly encouraged at all stages of your application. You will need to have a comprehensive patient and engagement programme within your full proposal. You will also need to develop a strong consortium management programme.

Case for support for research consortia

Full applications need to clearly describe and justify why a particular disease area is likely to contribute important understanding of disease, whether employing stratification by response to treatment or by risk, diagnosis and/or prognosis. This justification should clearly articulate:

  • existing knowledge of failure of certain groups to respond to therapeutic intervention, or
  • existing evidence of the potential to distinguish clinically important subgroups by means other than response to therapeutic intervention (e.g. rate of progression of disease)
  • clinical insight into potential strata linked to molecular and / or phenotypic analyses
  • opportunities for major advance in mechanistic understanding
  • increased knowledge of these strata would be expected to have a positive effect on clinical outcomes
  • potential value to future industry Research and Development

Some evidence of economic benefit derived by stratification should also be included, but the MRC does not expect full health economic studies within the proposal.

Funding available

Up to £15m to fund consortia up to 5 years in duration will be available. There will be an opportunity for the MRC to leverage additional co-funding from potential funding partners, including Arthritis Research UK (ARUK), British Hearth Foundation (BHF), and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) for appropriate studies.

Full stage application process

The full stage application process will operate as follows:

1. Consortia Building Phase

Full stage applicants are invited to attend a voluntary MRC workshop on 28th February 2017, the purpose of which is to assist the development of high quality full applications. Whilst not compulsory, applicants are strongly encouraged to attend. Following this, each Principle Investigator will be provided with small seed funding (up to £15k) to enable them to:

  • hold consortia building workshops/meetings to further engage with potential partners and define consortium goals
  • engage professional project management to assist planning
  • engage with the lead institution Technology Transfer Office and key stakeholders to prepare the Consortium Agreement

The type of consortia we seek to support pose significant and novel coordination challenges that require careful project planning and management. To help ensure that consortia are well placed to address these challenges, we expect that some of the seed funding will be used to access appropriate project management expertise, to assist in the preparation of the full application.

2. Full application

Full application should be submitted via Je-S by 22nd June 2017, 4pm. Full stage applicants will be required to complete a bespoke case for support form. Please carefully consult the guidance when preparing your case. A detailed list of successful outline proposal abstracts can be found on our invited applications document.

All applicants are advised to refer to the guidance on MRC Industrial Collaboration Awards (MICA) and must submit a MICA form for each industrial partner, with their application. We strongly recommend that you and your potential industrial partners refer to the MICA guidance, so that all parties are aware of the MICA options and requirements. You should contact your Technology Transfer Office to assist you with this process.

Who can apply?

This call is for successful outline applicants only.

Assessment Process

Full proposals will be sent out for international peer review and then assessed by the Expert Review Panel. Full stage applicants will be invited to interview at the meeting on 2nd and 3rd November 2017 at MRC Head Office, One Kemble Street. Full details will follow in due course. Please note that this Panel will make the final funding decisions. The MRC also reserves the right to include an additional trial stage before the full meeting.

Key Dates

Je-S open for full applications

6 March 2017

Closing date for full applications

22 June 2017, 4pm

Full applications assessed, including interview

2 and 3 November 2017

Contacts and further details

If you have any scientific queries please contact:

Dr Rosie Start
rosemary.start@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk
0207 395 2246

For queries regarding preparation and submission of your application, in the first instance please refer to all documentation relating to the scheme, particularly the Je-S Help which will guide you through the standard processes for preparing a proposal and costing your proposals.

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